Heads-of-state in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) met in Mauritius on Friday night (2 July) to begin their thirteenth summit meeting amid a major row between members and confusion over a coup in Sudan.
Heads-of-state in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) met in Mauritius on Friday night (2 July) to begin their thirteenth summit meeting amid a major row between members and confusion over a coup in Sudan. President Jaafar Nimeiri of Sudan was a notable absentee following reports of a rebellion against him, and although he was later reported safe and well and still in control of his country, at the time the meeting opened, officials had no idea of his whereabouts. The row aligned Mauritania and Morocco against Algeria in a dispute over administration of the Western Sahara.
SYNOPSIS: The airport at Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, was decorated with banners and flags to welcome the visiting Heads-of-state. Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta was among the first to arrive for the conference. Like all the Heads-of-state, he was greeted by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Mauritian Premier, who is to succeed President Amin of Uganda as Chairman of the OAU for the coming year. The Angolan Prime Minister, Mr. Nascimento, was representing his country at the conference.
Among the problems to be discussed at the talks will be Rhodesia, the New Zealand rugby tour of South Africa, and whether black Africa should boycott the Olympic Games. The Ethiopian Head-of-state, Mr. Tafari Benti, will also be involved in some tough negotiating over the fate of Djibouti after its independence.
He wants Djibouti and Somalia to sign treaties guaranteeing Djibouti's independence, but Somalia is refusing. The President of Senegal, President Senghor arrives for the conference.
President Idi Amin of Uganda wasn't expected to attend the opening, although he is the outgoing Chairman of the OAU. President Amin has been leading negotiations with pro-Palestinian hi-jackers who are holding about 100 passengers and airline crew hostage at Entebbe Airport in Uganda.
Commenting on a event attempt on his life, President Amin said the attempted assassination was the work of men sent into Uganda by South Africa.
The row over administration of the Western Sahara, which led to Morocco and Mauritania walking out of a preliminary meeting, looked as though it would become one of the stumbling blocks at the conference. Algeria is backing the Polisario Independence Movement in the area, but Morocco and Mauritania are fighting a guerrilla war against Polisario and say the subject' shouldn't have appeared on the agenda.
At the opening session the outgoing Chairman, President Amin, and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kurt Waldheim, heard an address from the new Chairman, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.