Libya Tops Agenda at African Union Summit

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 10:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The current head of the African Union is calling for less foreign intervention in African affairs.

Speaking at the start of an African Union summit Thursday, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said foreign moves to defend human rights in Africa have only deepened problems on the continent.

Mr. Obiang also said the AU is suffering financially and needs to find its own funding to stop outsiders from having to step in.

He did not specifically mention Libya, but the AU has come out against NATO airstrikes in that country.

The two-day summit in Equatorial Guinea is expected to be dominated by the conflict in Libya.

A panel of five African presidents is working on a plan for ending the crisis that they will present to the summit for approval.

The proposal includes a call for a cease-fire in Libya and a transition to democratic elections. Libyan rebels also want it to include a call for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to immediately resign.

Representatives of both the rebels and Mr. Gadhafi's government are attending the summit.

African leaders will also discuss the situation in Sudan. South Sudan is set to declare independence from the north on July 9, but the sides have engaged in deadly fighting at locations along their border.

Human Rights Watch strongly criticized Equatorial Guinea's government ahead of the summit. It says the government spent more than $800 million to construct a luxury complex for the conference while most of the country's citizens live in dire poverty.

It says authorities have also sharply limited public dissent and critical reporting.

Equatorial Guinea's president has faced similar criticism before. Mr. Obiang has ruled the small country with an iron fist since seizing power in 1979.