Alleged violations of human rights in Sudan and Zimbabwe have cast a shadow over African Union ambitions to form what some call a United States of Africa.
At an AU summit in Accra, Ghana, African leaders in closed session Sunday and Monday focused on the unification plan, which has been championed by president Robert Mugabe as well as Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
But Ghanaian President and AU Chairman John Kufuor and Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, a former president of Mali, in opening remarks urged the African statesmen to deal with human rights issues before raising their sights to unity.
On the summit sidelines, South African President Thabo Mbeki was expected to brief the leaders of the Southern African Development Community on his efforts to mediate a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe, and take the matter up later with Mr. Kufuor.
Zimbabwean officials, meanwhile, were said to have embarked on a public relations campaign led by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa. On Monday, Chinamasa charged that broadcasts by the Voice of America’s Studio 7 program to Zimbabwe was being used by the government of the United States to topple Mr. Mugabe.
Studio 7 broadcasts news reports to Zimbabwe five evenings a week.
The Zimbabwean government also organized protestors to counter demonstrations by human rights activists who were demanding that African nations take Mr. Mugabe to task over his administration’s alleged human rights violations, including state violence against members of the political opposition and civil society organizations.
Cape Town-based analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it is imperative for AU leaders to address human rights.