Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2003

African nations set up peer-review panel

May 29, 2003

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— 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.

It includes Chris Staals, the former central bank governor; Mandela's wife, Graca Machel; Nigerian economist Adebayo Adedeji; former Kenyan diplomat B.A. Kipglaat; Senegal's former U.N. official Marie-Angelique Savane; and Cameroon's Dorothy Njeuma.

Some nations have expressed doubt the board would have the clout to effectively police abuses.

Earlier Wednesday, Obasanjo said African leaders "should assure our developed partners ... of the African resolve" to make peer review effective.

In return, he said, the Group of Eight richest nations should honor the commitment they made last year in Canada to increase aid to Africa, the world's poorest continent.

"It is high time the implementation of this plan took off in earnest," Obasanjo said.

Unless Western nations fulfill their commitments, Africa will remain unable to meet goals set at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000 to dramatically improve education and health care.

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