Monday, July 03, 2006

Africans invite AntiAmerican leaders to African summit

....The role of West-baiting once fell at AU summits to Libya's colourful leader Muammar Gaddafi but he has now been welcomed into the Western fold and Libya is soon to be taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

So why were outsiders Chavez and Ahmadinejad invited?

The striking presence of such anti-Western figures, particularly the Iranian leader, raised eyebrows among the large number of foreign envoys observing the summit, diplomats said.

One non-aligned ambassador who asked not to be identified said the invitation to Chavez was more understandable than that to Ahmadinejad since Venezuela has AU observer status.

He said the Ahmadinejad invitation was apparently extended unilaterally by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, and provoked criticism from some countries in the 53-member AU.

But Western diplomats suggested the two invitations may also have been intended to underline Africa's breakaway from the influence of former colonial powers in Europe.

"At one time the links with Europe were still strong. But in the 21st century Africa wants to show that these links have finally been broken," one European ambassador said....

But he added that it was easier for Africa to assert its independence from the West when meeting in the AU than as individual countries, many dependent on Western funding.

Translation: They want to bite the hand that feeds them to show their independence...

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