By Kemo Cham – The head of the African Union (AU) has presented a new Africa that is poised to take a leading role in ridding itself of the scourges of hunger, disease and poverty.
Bingu Wa Mutharika who is also President of Malawi told the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly annual debate on Thursday that Africa was ready for a new beginning. He said the continent was striving to transform itself politically and economically for the benefit of its people.
“I want to present to you another Africa. This is the Africa of new hopes and new possibilities; Africa of industrial, mineral, and agro-processing opportunities; Africa with new jobs creation prospects; and Africa that can produce enough food to feed its people,” Mr. Mutharika said.
The AU chair dismissed the old idea of Africa being poor and blamed the media for portraying the image of a region of conflicts, diseases, poverty and despair, “ignoring any positive developments on good governance, peaceful multi-party elections and strong microeconomic growth.”
“I have come to inform this world body that Africa has decided to shift from ‘Afro-pessimism’ to ‘Afro-optimism,” he stated.
While reiterating the need for support from both the AU and UN towards implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, President Mutharika conveyed African leaders’ concerned over the recent indictment of Sudanese leader, Omar el-Bashir, on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He argued that that could undermine peacebuilding efforts in the Sudan.
“The African Union therefore strongly appeals to the United Nations General Assembly to amend Article 16 of the Rome Statue to enable it to assume the powers of the Security Council to defer the case against President Omar Hassan el-Bashir for one year to allow ongoing negotiations and dialogue to succeed.”
Greater African participation at UN
The AU chair used his speech at the General Assembly to push forward Africa’s continued demand for a greater participation at the United Nations. He said the AU was proposing that the continent be given two permanent seats and five-non permanent seats in the Security Council.
“The African Union should have the right to determine the selection of Africa’s representative in the Security Council,” he said.
According to Mr Mutharika, the AU is looking for a UN as an instrument for international consensus and global governance, and stressed the need for the Organization to strengthen its institutions to make the decision-making process more equitable.
“African leaders,” he said, “believe that the United Nations, with its universal membership, is well placed to build political consensus for global governance.”
And he added, “I believe this time, more than ever before, the United Nations needs to strengthen its institutions to enable it to promote peace and stability and facilitate balanced growth and prosperity between developed and developing countries.”