Libya to host CEN-SAD summit in Sirte

Mar 03, 2002 01:00 AM

The five-year Sahel-Saharan States' community (CEN-SAD) set up under the initiative of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, is about to welcome three new members --Benin, Liberia and Togo -- during its fourth summit in Sirte (450 km away from Tripoli). The 16-member organisation started with six members -- Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan and Chad. The first CEN-SAD conference in 1999 was marked by the membership of Eritrea and the Central African Republic.

The Chadian capital city of N'djamena that hosted the second summit in 2000 saw three other countries become members of the organisation. These were Senegal, the Gambia and Djibouti. The third summit in Khartoum saw the membership of five new countries -- Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria and Somalia. Since it was created in 1998 under the initiative of Colonel Gaddafi, CEN-SAD has endeavoured to set an economically progressive community relying on peace, security, states' stability, free circulation of goods and persons as well as right for work and property.
In order to achieve these goals the organisation has created five main institutions: a heads of states' summit, an executive council, a general secretariat, a development bank and an economic, cultural and social council. Four ministerial committees (health, security, finance and economy committees) have been set up to back the work of those institutions. They hold meetings in various member states. Since it was created the health committee has organised a number of medical teams to tour throughout the community in order to struggle against potentially epidemic diseases.

The Economy and Finance committee has carried out a common policy for food security, environment protection, energetic resources protection, trade strategy between the member states and development of the means of transport between them. The ministerial community in charge of security, has made it possible through its Tripoli, N'djamena, Bamako and Khartoum meetings to implement decisions taken by heads of states for the free circulation of goods and persons throughout the community.
The states decided in March 2001 to lift visa requirements for all officials who were granted diplomatic passports or envoys in charge of special official missions in all the member countries. As for ordinary passports, there is a project on a possible convention which is still on examination, presented by Chad during the second CEN-SAD summit.

The ministerial committee in charge of finance and economy has taken charge, since its first 1999 meeting in Benghazi, of seeking ways to bring operational the African Development and Commerce Bank (BADC). The bank was created in 16 April 1999 and was inaugurated on 26 June 2000.
Its objective is to meet the needs of the development projects launched in the community. According to its General Manager, Libyan Hedi Ourfalli, the bank has increased its capital from EUR 100 mm to EUR 250 mm and is about to open its first subsidiaries in Khartoum, Asmara and Bamako in the current year. A popular project on the Oubangui water dredging into the Chad Lake, and the linking up of the Benoue and Chari Rivers decided in the N'djamena summit are still under study.
Central African president Ange-Felix Patasse still finds it hard not only to gather the necessary funds to the project but also the endorsement of the two main countries where the Oubangui passes through (Congo Brazzaville and DR Congo). CEN-SAD is much interested in integration, and since the Khartoum summit in 2001, it has deployed many efforts to meet the conditions necessary for the effective setting of an economic, cultural and social council.

The Khartoum conference mandated Sudanese president Omar El Bashir, current chairman of the CEN-SAD, to oversee the setting up of the council which, according to reports from the organisation's secretariat, will be claimed during the coming Sirte summit. Since it was created, the CEN-SAD has always considered economic development as a priority and the heads of states decided to achieve food security throughout their community by applying well thought-out agricultural projects.
According to Libyan diplomats, the Sirte summit will try hard to intensify efforts on the struggle against epidemic diseases trough the creation of common projects in cooperation with international institutions and civil society organisations. The summit will also examine the crisis in the Central African Republic as well as the action plan on energy, communications and environment.

According to Libyan diplomats, the action plan will deal with the necessary measures to take in order to facilitate power, oil and gas exchanges between the member states. Other technical steps will have to be taken to make communications easier between the members of the community, which spreads from the horn of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
According to observers, the CEN-SAD has become a major political, economical and social movement in a fast changing world of the new millennium where new relations are set in accordance with new big blocks.

Source: Financial Times Limited
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