Libyan leader Gaddafi vows to create ‘United States of Africa’

February 2, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Moammar Gadhafi of Libya was elected Monday as leader of theĀ  53-nation African Union, a position long sought by the eccentric dictator. Gaddafi, 66, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, having taken power in a coup at the age of 29 in 1969, lobbied hard for the post, flying to numerous African capitals to campaign for his election. Gadhafi, once ostracized by the West for sponsoring terrorism, wants to push his oil-rich nation into the international mainstream after years of isolation.

The chairmanship of the African Union is a rotating position held by heads of state for one year and gives the holder some influence over the continent’s politics but carries no real power. Gadhafi’s agenda seems to be sponsoring efforts to spread Islam on the continent and pushing for the creation of a single African government. Dressed in a gold robe and cap, he made clear his intention to push for an alternative “USA” – a plan he has outlined before and that has met with resistance among fellow African leaders.

“I hope my term will be a time of serious work and not just words,” he said in his inaugural speech.

“I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa,” he said, admitting that African leaders were “not near to a settlement” on the issue.

“We are still independent states. It is your decision to respond to the call for unity, to push Africa forward towards the United States of Africa.”

Diplomats who attended the closed-door meetings in which Gadhafi was chosen said several countries vigorously opposed him, seeking alternatives from Lesotho and Sierra Leone. However, the AU’s chairmanship rotates among Africa’s regions, and a North African had not been chaired the continental body since 2000, when Algeria held the chairmanship.


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