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Tanzania: Country Vows to Provide Strong Leadership

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Addis Ababa — Tanzania on Saturday welcomed its election to the membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) and vowed to provide a strong, bold and committed leadership in resolution of conflicts and other challenges the continent was currently facing.

“We have been highly excited to join the council at this particular moment. “The continent now needs keen, principled and committed leadership which Tanzania can effectively provide,” the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mr Bernard Membe, said here on Saturday.

He said Tanzania and Djibouti were among ten members elected to the council for a two-year period (2012 – 2014). They are representing Eastern Africa. Also elected were Angola and Lesotho (Southern Africa), Ivory Coast, Gambia and Guinea (Western Africa), Cameron and Republic of Congo (Central Africa) and Egypt (Northern Africa).

The council is composed of 15 countries, of which five are elected to a three-year term and ten to a two-year term. Countries are immediately eligible for re-election upon the expiration of their terms. Five countries elected for a three-year term in the council in 2010, are Zimbabwe (Southern Africa), Kenya (East Africa), Equatorial Guinea (Central Africa), Nigeria (West Africa) and Libya (North Africa).

The Peace and Security Council is the organ of the African Union, which among other things, is responsible for resolution, management and prevention of conflicts on the continent. Mr Membe said many countries in other parts of the world including the most powerful nations have their eyes on Africa because of the continent’s vast natural resources and huge economic potential.

He said among the challenges facing the council included protection of the continent from any type of exploitation by countries with political and financial prowess. The minister urged the African Union and the Peace and Security Council in particular to ensure that they become independent and self-reliant in terms of resources.

“It is not possible for an institution that is not self-reliant to maintain its independence,” he said. The minister also listed other achievements that Tanzania has so far made during the 18th AU Summit, which started on January 23, at the diplomatic and ministerial level include establishment of the African Union Secretariat for Anti-Corruption activities in Arusha as well as the AU International Law Institute in the same city.

Meanwhile, Mr Membe said aggressive campaigns were underway ahead of the election of the chairman of the AU Commission following the expiry of Dr Jean Ping’s tenure. The race is between Dr Ping, a veteran Gabonese diplomat who is seeking re-election and South African Minister for Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is also a seasoned diplomat.

Mr Membe said Tanzania, all Southern African Development Community member countries and Portuguese speaking nations back Dr Zuma. He said West Africa and Francophone Africa is behind Dr Ping. “Geo-political interests are now going on here,” he said.

Meanwhile, the new African Union Conference Centre and office complex was inaugurated here yesterday as leaders rose in turns to hail Sino-Africa shared development goals and partnership that started over six decades ago. Equatorial Guinea Chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema described the new beautiful imposing AU headqurters building as a bold symbol of China’s rapidly changing role in Africa.

AU officials say the building is 99.9 metre-tall and was wholly funded by the Chinese government at a cost of $200m. Even the furnishings were paid for by the Asian powerhouse, and most of the construction material was imported from China. The sleek edifice — Addis Ababa’s tallest — will host the 18th African Union Assembly which starts on Sunday.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi paid glowing tribute to the Chinese government and described the building as the significant symbol of Africa’s transition from hopelessness into a rising continent. He told the over 1,500-plus audience that the new complex has been built on a spot that used to be a notorious maximum security prison. “It was a place that represented desperation and hopelessness,” he said.

The Ethiopian leader said the building symbolises China’s major stake in Africa. Total bilateral trade volume between the Asian nation and the continent reached over $120bn last year, a steep rise from less than $20bn 10 years ago, according to UNCTAD. Construction of the building started on February 26, 2009, following a pledge by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the China Africa Forum in Beijing in 2006. It is said to be the biggest Chinese aid project in Africa after Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA).

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