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Marking Africa Day, UN hails continent's efforts to overcome conflict, poverty

Marking Africa Day, UN hails continent's efforts to overcome conflict, poverty

Observing Africa Day, which marks the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the United Nations Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced their support for African leaders' efforts to tackle the continent's problems and stressed the need for international assistance in reaching that goal.

In a message on the occasion of the Day, which is observed on 25 May, the Secretary-General praised African leaders for their resolve in moving the continent steadily towards democratic and economic empowerment, and showing courage, determination and responsibility in lifting countries out of war and poverty.

"Indeed, the struggle for democracy, development, human rights and good governance in Africa may well be reaching what has been called a 'tipping point,'" Mr. Annan said.

This year's commemoration was occurring at a crucial juncture, the Secretary-General added, noting that the African Union was launched this year and that a new initiative, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), was taking shape.

"Africans are addressing the conflicts in their midst by coming together as African leaders determined to solve their own problems," Mr. Annan said, pointing to the successful elections earlier this month in war-torn Sierra Leone and the effort to confront the scourge of AIDS with innovative programmes and relentless campaigns of public education.

"And with initiatives such as the NEPAD, they are deepening the process of political and economic reform and building productive ties with each other and with the international community," he added.

Supporting these efforts has never been more vital to the interests of the developed world, the Secretary-General said, urging the international community to do all it could "to help millions of men and women to improve their lives, so that a continent so rich in human and natural resources can truly fulfil its great promise."

Meanwhile the President of the Security Council for the month of May, Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore, addressed a special meeting of the Africa Regional Group at UN Headquarters in New York to commemorate Africa Day.

On behalf of the Council members, Ambassador Mahbubani expressed the Council’s solidarity with Africa. He also reiterated the Council’s strong message of support as well as its backing for the continent in managing the challenges and opportunities it faces.