RealNews

African Panel to Press Nations to Halt Regional Wars

Nelson Mandela’s wife and South Africa’s last white central bank head were among six people named Wednesday to Africa’s first peer-review body, charged with pressing the continent’s leaders to end war and corruption. The Panel of Eminent Persons is part of a new program developed by South Africa, Senegal, Algeria and Nigeria to steer $6 billion in aid to countries whose governments are certified by the board as honest and accountable. Nigerian officials said the program’s goal was to put quiet pressure on African leaders to ensure peace and good governance. The panel was selected during a meeting of heads of state in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on the eve of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo’s inauguration to a second term. The presidents also agreed to reinforce a multinational peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast with an unspecified number of troops and to create a standby force to respond to civil wars and other emergencies in the region. The statement said the leaders also resolved to crack down on the trade and manufacture of light weapons and to ban the recruitment of mercenaries and disarm existing militias. The regional bloc pledged to work with the United Nations on creating an international contact group to help bring peace to Liberia, a country wracked by civil war. International leaders have imposed sanctions on President Charles Taylor’s government, which is widely accused of fomenting conflicts at home and in neighboring Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast. African leaders are trying to show a commitment to good government in order to strengthen their case for increased aid when they meet with donor nations next month in France. Full Story

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