by Julien Randriamasivelo
head of Africa Section, P.S.

In this year' commemoration of Africa Day, attention has been focused on the new developments of the general situation in Africa in many aspects. Greater expectations are stirred up over the performances of the African Union

(AU) ) in the years to come. This political entity has the immense task to meeting the genuine aspirations of African peoples for political, economic and social unification in order to ensure its success. AAPSO has hailed the significant steps made so far in creating within the AU different political, legislative, security organs as a meaningful first achievements in order to deal with the enormous challenges that the AU is facing.

Nonetheless, other  most disturbing realities should deserve due attention.  Human and humanitarian rights of refugees and displaced persons have caused growing concerns; racism, xenophobia, inter-ethnic and inter-religious confrontations are rife...Along with a number of fragile settlements of politico-military problems in the post-conflicts situation in some African countries, Africa faces immense challenges in terms of its development.

These facts form part of the realities prevailing in the life of African countries. The situation in Sudan where the long-lasting war  has brought Sudanese people into deaths and more sufferings, has caused frustration all over Africa about the future outcome of the repeatedly delayed peace agreement, not to mention the dimension reached by the developments of what is happening  in Darfur.

The attention of the peace-loving world should be focused on parts of Africa which are still put in hostage by looming conflicts, or where  natural resources are being extremely coveted  with hidden complicity of corrupt Africans and transnational corporations. World is witnessing that African development is being  tailored to fit the vested interests of great powers with the international financial and trade institutions playing the main actors in the world economy. As a political tool of international financial and monetary institutions and other donors countries, the systematic indebtedness has kept entire African populations in hostage indefinitely. The starving people by famine has caused vulnerability of some categories of populations. The fight against the spread of diseases like AIDS requires strengthned efforts in order to reverse the unbearable situation being caused. Despite the fact that democracy has put root in Africa, nonetheless, using the pretext of the fight against terrorism, some African leaders have been engaged into gross violations of human rights and other inhumane treatments like tortures which are routinely practised.

Meeting the challenges put before the African Union and the African people in general needs strong political will and determination to avoid the repetition of mistakes or other setbacks in dealing with the African process to development, peace, progress and prosperity.

All eyes are now focused on the new African Union. The question is now, whether it is strong and determined enough to face the  challenges  laid ahead. In this connection, the African Union, the African civil society and NGOs should form a genuine partnership in fulfilling common task, reinforcing the principle of participatory democracy on the national, regional and continental levels, giving all categories of African people the opportunity to deploy their own efforts in building a new Africa confidence in its future.

The Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organisation wishes African Union all success it deems to deserve in its highly respectable and   devoted   responsibility and task.