Deep divisions were reported between member countries of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) after a meeting of their Foreign Ministers ended on Saturday (3 July).
Deep divisions were reported between member countries of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) after a meeting of their Foreign Ministers ended on Saturday (3 July). The differences were also expected to be apparent at a summit of OAU Heads of State which immediately followed the first meeting.
SYNOPSIS: Both meetings took place in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius and differences between some countries lead to heated exchanges at the Foreign Ministers' meeting. As African leaders arrived for their summit, they faced a threat by Mauritania to walk out. The Mauritanians have been disputing the sovereignty of the Western Sahara with Algeria. This has led to violent clashes between the two countries and Mauritania's threat to leave the OAU conference.
James Mancham, President of the newly independent Seychelles, was in a happier mood. His country has just become the 48th member of the organisation. Mr. Mancham was given a special welcome by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the incoming Chairman of the OAU and Prime Minister of Mauritius.
The Heads of State summit coincided with Israel's commando raid on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda, to free over 100 hostages held there by pro-Palestinian hijackers. The raid was immediately condemned by the Arab and African leaders as they met in closed session. They called on the United Nations Security Council to take action against Israel. But the raid also caused tension between Uganda and its neighbour Kenya, after reports that the Israeli aircraft refuelled at Nairobi before returning home. Relations between Uganda and Kenya have been strained for some time but President Idi Amin, the Ugandan President, said that despite what he called provocation, his country would not attack its neighbour. Kenyan Vice-President, Arap Moi, strongly denied allegations that Kenya had assisted the Israelis.
Mauritania's dispute with Algeria and Uganda's with Kenya were not the only divisions between member states. Sudan accused Libya of masterminding an abortive coup last week against the Sudanese President, Jaafar El Nimeiry. But divisions were forgotten for a short while as the leaders joined in a tough resolution calling for the unleashing of armed struggle in southern Africa.