African leaders urged to halt food crisis, violence on continent

African leaders have been urged to commit more resources to agriculture development to reverse the escalating food crisis and  renewed violence in parts of the continent.
Dr. Jean Ping, President of the African Union (AU) Commission, said that the continent had the means, coupled with enough external support, to overcome the food crisis and regain her position as a continent that mattered.
He was opening the 13th Ordinary Session of the General Assembly, presided over by the AU Chairman and Leader of Libya, Muamar Al-Gadafffi, in Sirte, Libya.
Dr. Ping noted that the economic growth of some African countries in the last five years, before the global financial problems, gave hope that African leaders could reverse the crisis.
He expressed the determination of the AU to initiate measures to address the crisis and satisfy the daily aspirations of the people.
President of Ghana, Professor John Evans Atta Mills was attending the three-day summit that was on the theme: “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security.”
He attended the 11th Summit of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Sirte on Tuesday.
The UN estimated that about 625 million people were currently going hungry in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, UN Deputy Secretary- General, the already appalling situation, was expected to get worse, as UN projections indicated that economic growth in Africa would sharply decrease from 4.9 per cent in 2008 to 0.9 in 2009, and poverty whole would rise by 1.2 per cent in 2009.
She stressed the importance of investing in agriculture to create jobs.
Dr. Migiro said investing in agriculture could help improve economic growth and increase food and nutritional security in Africa.
She called on African countries to have a national strategy for agricultural development and live up to the pledge to increase agricultural spending by 10 percent of their budgets.
The African leaders were expected to discuss means of strengthening the role of the AU in the prevention, management and resolution of election disputes and violent conflicts in Africa, according to the draft agenda of the summit.
They would also explore ways to prevent unconstitutional changes of government and to strengthen the capacity of the AU to deal with such situations.
The summit in Libya is expected to focus on the implementation of a decision made in the Ethiopia Summit of AU in February to transform the AU Commission, the executive arm of the pan-African body, into a new AU Authority.
A number of hot regional issues, such as the security situation in Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan’s Darfur region, were also expected to be discussed by the African Heads of State and Governments.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Premier Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who will host a Group of Eight summit next week, were present at the meeting.
The 13th AU Summit, was previously scheduled to take place in July in Madagascar, but membership of that country was suspended in March due to political stalemate.
The AU, established in 2002, replaced the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that was founded in 1963.
The AU is aimed at preserving and promoting peace and stability in Africa, carrying out reforms and poverty reduction and realizing the development and renewal of Africa.

Source: GNA

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