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Published On  Feb 12,  2012
   
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THE FINE LINE
 

 

The summit by African heads of state last week was about China and Chinese presence as much as it was about the African Union (AU). A generous gift of a 200-million dollars headquarters on Roosevelt Street, from construction to furnishing, has been a symbolic gesture to win China an unavoidable presence at the AU last week. The largest delegates did come from any other African country but China, led by not its president who declined at the last minute and sent the fourth man in the rank of its communist party. So did the largest media contingent come from China.

But if anything the summit tells about, it ought to be a reflection of the AU itself, claims gossip. The summit was in mess and disorganized, several western ambassadors stationed in Addis Abeba and accredited to the AU spent the whole session of the inaugural standing, for the commissioners of the AU took the seats behind the heads of state. If there were any reserved in their name, staffs of the AU and entourages of leaders ripped it off and placed their own instead, gossip disclosed.

Now the AU, with all its alleged inefficiency, has one of the largest conference halls (2,500 seats) in the world, even the China Digital Times asked if it is a “Trojan Horse”. Gossip too wonders how it will be maintained, with cash strapped continental body having difficulties to run a 20-storey tower with 1,400 offices spaces.

To bad that leaders like the late Gadaffi, who was known to have paid three million dollars for his stay in hotels in Addis, were missed to make the inaugural more colorful than it was.

The summit has had expanding inter-Africa trade as its main topic, while what took the limelight was the unsurprisingly failed elections to its highest offices, including the chairman. Nonetheless, there was more interesting conversations behind closed doors among heads of state and ambassadors whose leaders were not here gossip disclosed.

It has now become almost customary to see a tug of war with words between an American accented Eritrea’s Ambassador to the AU, Girma Asmerom, who makes his his business to blame Ethiopia for everything that is messy in Easy Africa, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose delight to rip him apart is much evident, claims gossip. So was this the case last week, where Meles was seen calm and composed taking on Girma but blunt in characterizing the regime in Eritrea as egomaniac and stuck with rebel mindset, according to gossip.

Meles appeared to have been prepared for the accusations from the Ambassador who blamed him for masterminding all the sanctions againts his country, "without AU's deliberation", and Ethiopia for "doing the bidding for the United States", a country he described as an enemy, gossip claims. 

Djibouti's President, Ismael Omar Guelleh, who said Eritrea’s claims of 23Km inside his small territory leaves little for his country to call home, was the first to respond to Girma characterizing the regime in Asmara as paranoid, gossip disclosed. Meles followed on him, firing back that an egomaniac regime has two types of countries it has not aggrieved: those whose reach is far from Asmara and others it has no capability to attack, gossip revealed. Meles mentioned Saudi Arabia in the latter category.

However, the most interesting statement came from the new Tunisian leader, Moncef Marzouki, who told leaders he happen to meet for the first time that failure to listen to the youth in their respective countries is a recipe for revolutions such as happened in his country, gossip disclosed. He told them that the lid is off the bottle that ambivalence to embrace change and surrender power to the younger generation would make revolutions al a carte Tunisia the realities of each country in Africa.

His prophetic warning was received with accolade from the heads of state, many of whom chose to cling to political power no matter what, while some of them tinkered with their constitutions to live or die in presidential palaces. Even Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was among those clapped his hands, joined of course by Prime Minister Meles, claims gossip. Another interesting statement, although not clear whether it was a demand or plea, came from the Prime Minister of Libya. Re-enforcing the statement made by Marzouki, and that Libya is today “a totally free country” he told the heads of state that Libyans are aware of the many investments their deceased leader made in Africa, according to gossip.

He repeatedly asked African leaders to return Libya’s money allegedly stashed in their respective countries, claims gossip.

 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 

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