Annan embarks on five-nation tour of Africa prior to UN sustainable development forum
Wrapping up his personal holiday today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is set to kick off a series of official visits to African countries, culminating with his participation at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, which gets under way next week in South Africa.
Tomorrow, in response to a long-standing invitation, the Secretary-General is scheduled to visit Cote d'Ivoire, where he is to have lunch and a meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo, a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in New York.
Then on Sunday, on the first leg of a visit to five African countries, the Secretary-General will arrive in Angola, where he is expected to address the Angolan Parliament and meet with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, among other senior officials.
Mr. Annan's visit comes after the Security Council earlier this month approved the establishment of a UN Mission in Angola, which is to provide a more coordinated response to the changing atmosphere in the country following the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi and recent peace efforts between the Government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
Later next week, the Secretary-General is slated to also visit Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique, before arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa on 1 September for the start of the Summit's high-level segment.
During the past week, the Secretary-General visited development projects in his native Ghana to see firsthand how people can take charge of improving their own living conditions, spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
Last Sunday, the Secretary-General and his wife, Nane, visited the Nwodua Community project in the north, which is supported by the Ghanaian Government as well as the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other donors.
There, they saw a vocational training centre, a day care centre, a water system and an agro-forestry project. The Secretary-General also received a smock and cap from the local people, whom he praised for trying to take the lead to improve their own conditions. "Without that initiative and that determination to improve your economic and social conditions, I don't think you'll be where you are today," he said.
On Monday, the couple visited the Sirigu Women's Organization for Pottery and Art, a group devoted to helping women by encouraging them to weave baskets and make pottery. They also visited a water project at Salvelugu, in the north.