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From: "Rex Brown" <rbrown@ecs.co.sz>
To: "Swazinews" <swazinews@list.iafrica.sz>
Subject: SWAZINEWS: African states plan "red cards" on coups
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 22:57:47 +0200
Message-ID: <003301becd72$5c7fd580$49e80fc4@rex>
Sender: owner-swazi-net@list.pitt.edu

African states plan "red cards" on coups

By Nicholas Phythian, Reuters
13 July 1999

ALGIERS, July 13 (Reuters) - Africa's leaders, some of whom seized power in coups themselves, have decided at the final OAU summit of the century to ostracise any future African leader who takes power by force, an OAU spokesman said on Tuesday.

A spokesman for host Algeria said that the plan was for the Pan-African organisation to follow the sports world in introducing a system of political red and yellow cards for any leader who failed to respect the principle that power can only change hands through the ballot box.

But the measures, adopted by the leaders meeting in closed session, will not apply to the current summit, which is being attended by the governments of Guinea-Bissau and Niger, whose elected presidents were toppled by force earlier in the year.

"If we have a meeting tomorrow and there's a coup d'etat somewhere (there's) no way for the leader of that coup to sit with us or to come to us or to be received by us. Finished. The position is now very clear," OAU spokesman Ibrahim Daggash told a news conference.

Niger, which has sent its transitional prime minister, and Guinea-Bissau, represented by its transitional president, were being allowed to attend "in the African spirit", he said, confirming that some leaders had questioned their presence.

Daggash said that future coup leaders would be shunned. "There will be no dealing with them, there will be diplomatic isolation as well. There are sanctions that can be put on them as well," he added.

Algerian spokesman Boualem Bessaieh told reporters that there was widespread support for a suggestion from Nigeria's newly elected President Olusegun Obasanjo for 2000 to be declared the year of peace and security in Africa.

"It is no longer acceptable for African leaders to come to power by any other means than elections," he said, likening the planned OAU response to red and yellow cards in soccer.

But he cautioned against what he called imported models for democracy.

African leaders, who have turned out in force for the summit, are focusing on the twin goals of ensuring that their continent can embrace economic globalisation on its own terms and find home-grown solutions to its wars, officials say.

Obasanjo, who last addressed an OAU summit as his country's military ruler two decades ago, set the tone at the start of the three-day meeting on Monday. "The goal is to create a resurgent Africa which is at peace with itself," he said.

Algerian officials say that conflict resolution has been at the heart of discussions.

U.N. refugee chief Sadako Ogata welcomed fledgling peace deals to end the wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone but expressed concern about the plight of civilians caught up in the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Ogata told a news conference that Congolese President Laurent Kabila, whom she met on Monday, appeared confident that a ceasefire deal he signed in Zambia on Saturday -- and which his rebel foes still have to sign -- would eventually take hold.

"He was reasonably confident that this would be put into practice," she said, praising a new desire on the part of Africa's leaders to involve themselves in finding solutions.

Kabila said in a radio interview on Tuesday there was still fighting in his Central African country despite the peace accord, but played down the rebels' refusal to sign up to it, saying this "is not a problem as long as the rebels' masters, those that created them, have signed it."

Ogata took a bleak view on developments in the Horn of Africa, where the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has driven an estimated 600,000 people from their homes. "There are no solutions. I'm very concerned about the situation of the war there. We are very worried about it," she said.

Kabila and the presidents of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Chad, whose troops fought for him, were at the summit with presidents of Rwanda and Uganda, whom Kabila accuses of invading.

Sierra Leone's elected president, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was at the summit. His rebel foe Foday Sankoh was on the sidelines.

The president of Eritrea and the powerful prime minister of Ethiopia, former allies whose countries have been at war since May 1998, were both at the summit.

Angola's Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who sent troops to fight for Kabila but whose country has slipped back into civil war after a five-year lull, was notable by his absence.

The summit has attracted a record turnout -- 42 of the OAU's 53 members represented by their head of state. Host President Abdelaziz Bouteflika welcomed this as an expression of confidence that Algeria was emerging from a seven-year nightmare in which 100,000 people have died in an Islamist revolt.