Delegates from across the African continent gathered in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Thursday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Organization of African Unity, the alliance that later became the African Union.
In a statement, the AU said the ceremony — held at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa — commemorates May 25, 1963, when the heads of state from 32 independent African states gathered in the city to sign the charter that created the OAU, which the AU said was the first post-independence continental institution.
In its charter, the OAU said its main objectives included ridding the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid; promoting unity and solidarity among African states; coordinating cooperation for development; safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states; and promoting international cooperation.
In 1999, OAU leaders meeting in Libya decided the organization needed to refocus its goals to focus more intensely on cooperation and integration of African states to drive the continent’s growth and economic development. They issued a declaration calling for the establishment of the African Union, which was officially launched in 2002.
In opening remarks to the delegates Thursday, AU Commission Chairman H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat called it an important day in the history of Africa, as it honors the organization’s founders, who laid the groundwork for “the African renaissance and its socioeconomic and political development.”
In his comments, Mahamat, the former Chadian prime minister, warned against interference by world powers in the continent’s affairs in what he called a "hegemonic struggle between the great powers" playing out internationally.
Mahamat said this threatens to make Africa the battleground of a “new version of the Cold War.” He called it a “zero-sum game where the gains of others would translate into losses for Africa.” He did not elaborate.
Some information for this report was provided by Agence France-Presse.