New head of African Union, Libyan leader Col. Gaddafi, pledges to resolve Darfur crisis
Libyan leader pledges to resolve Darfur crisis
February 04, 2009 Associated Press report by Anita Powell - excerpt:
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Wednesday that the crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur is his personal responsibility now that he has been elected to head the African Union. [...]
In recent months, Darfur rebel groups believed to be supported by Chad have taken key positions in the region, prompting counterattacks by Sudanese forces. In December, Chadian rebel groups signed a unity pact in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
"It is my duty to step in and try to solve this," Gadhafi said during his first news conference as AU chairman. On Monday, he was elected to the post, which is a rotating position held by heads of state for one year. It gives the holder some influence over the continent's politics but carries no real power.
Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya since he seized power in a coup in 1969, warned the two nations not to violate the AU's rules, which forbid members or rebel groups from overthrowing other governments.
"In my capacity as chairman of the African Union, we should make sure that Sudan and Chad apply this constitutive act," he said, referring to the AU's charter. "Any country that violates the constitutive act will be penalized."
He did not elaborate on the possible penalties, but the AU usually punishes offenders first with censure and then, if there is no change, suspension from membership. The latest countries to receive such treatment are Guinea and Mauritania after their respective militaries staged coups against elected governments in recent months. Both nations remain suspended. [...]