African foreign ministers were to begin their twice-yearly conference in Nairobi on Friday (23 February) to implement their task of promoting unity on a continent riven by national, racial, ideological and religious conflicts.
African foreign ministers were to begin their twice-yearly conference in Nairobi on Friday (23 February) to implement their task of promoting unity on a continent riven by national, racial, ideological and religious conflicts. The ministerial meeting of the forty-nine-members Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U.) is officially meant to concentrate on budgetary and administrative matters, with political issues left until the summit meeting in July. But, in the past, politics have always intruded into the early session, and conference sources expect it will happen again this year.
SYNOPSIS: Before the conference started, an O.A.U. mediation committee met at the Kenyatta Conference Centre. Their brief was to try to stop the present war between Tanzania and Uganda.
The mediation committee was called together because earlier attempts by the O.A.U. to stop the fighting, as well as missions by Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiri, had failed to end the seventeen weeks of sporadic fighting between the two neighbours of Kenya. O.A.U. Secretary-General Edem Kodjo, addressing the meeting in French, knew before the started that only two issues have ever drawn the forty-nine members states together. These were the battle against South Africa, and support for the Palestinian guerrillas.
Before talks began, the Ugandan and Tanzanian delegates withdrew. The Ugandan delegate, Mr. Matiya Lubaga, spoke to newsmen: