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Africa is ready for a ‘new beginning,’ Malawi tells UN debate

Africa is ready for a ‘new beginning,’ Malawi tells UN debate

President Bingu Wa Mutharika of Malawi
Africa is striving to transform itself politically and economically for the benefit of its people, the chairman of the African Union (AU) told the General Assembly today, saying leaders in the continent were working to eradicate hunger, disease and poverty.

“I want to present to you another Africa,” said Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who currently holds AU’s rotating chairmanship, in his speech to the opening day of the Assembly’s annual General Debate.

“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.

Speaking of a “new beginning” in Africa, the President said he wanted the UN to “share our belief that Africa is not a poor continent; rather it is its people that are poor. I have come to inform this world body that Africa has decided to shift from ‘Afro-pessimism’ to ‘Afro-optimism.”

He said the media has long portrayed Africa as a region of conflicts, diseases, poverty and despair, ignoring any positive developments on good governance, peaceful multi-party elections and strong microeconomic growth.

On Sudan, Mr. Mutharika said that the country presented a special challenge to both the AU and UN in their support of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of civil war between the north and the south.

He said that African leaders were concerned that the indictment on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide of Sudan’s President Omar el-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could undermine peacebuilding efforts in 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.” The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC.

Mr. Mutharika said AU the supported the 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 believe that the United Nations, with its universal membership, is well placed to build political consensus for global governance,” said Mr. Mutharika.

“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,” he said.

The Malawian leader said the AU was proposing that Africa 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 the Africa’s representative in the Security Council.”