Mandela Says African Rebirth Crucial For New World Order

Paul Ejime

DURBAN, S. Africa (PANA) - September 2: South African President Nelson Mandela opened the 12th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement Wednesday, describing African rennaisance as key to the establishment of a new world.

''The greatest challenge we face which will say that we are serious about the remaking of our world is the obligation to ensure that the objective of the rebirth of the continent of Africa should and must succeed,'' he told the summit of the 113-nation organsisation.

''Without this, all declarations of the emergence of a new world will be without meaning,'' added the African leader after he was unanimously chosen as chairman of the movement for the next three years, taking over from Andre Pasrana-Arango of Colombia.

With 52 members, Africa has the largest membership in NAM set up in 1961 to advance the interests of developing members, including 14 countries from Asia, four from Europe and 20 from Latin America and the caribbean.

Mandela, who praised the movement for supporting his country's liberation struggle, dwelt on development challenges, insisting that the world ''has to ensure that Africa, recognised as the weakest link in the development chain, itself becomes an example of the new world whose time has come.''

To ''remake our common world anew,'' he said, ''the violence we see all around us, against people who are as human as we who sit in privileged positions, must surely be addressed in a decisive and sustained manner.''

He said the ''violence'' included hunger, homelessness, joblessness, malaria and HIV/AIDS and trade in narcotics.

He also spoke of ''the violence of war, whether in the Democratic Republic of Congo or in Kosovo and whether in Afgansitan or in Sri Lanka and of the freightening threat which hangs over all humanity that is posed by the huge arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, and especially nuclear weapons, which remain in the stockpile of a few contries in the world.''

Mandela said the industrialised North and the poor South must together tackle the problem of ''an excess of wealth in one area of the world which contributes to the creation of poverty in another.''

''The question,'' he said, '' arises naturally as to whether wealth in one corner of the globe can be preserved where deprivation thrives in another, as to whether the time has not come for us to take such steps as would ensure that the development agenda of the Non-Aligned Movement informs the development agenda of the whole international community.''

Mandela, who also touched on the implications of the globalisation of the world economy and the political and socio-economic problems facing NAM members, paid tribute to Nigeria's new leader, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, for opening ''the way towards the restoration of democracy in and the regeneration'' of Nigeria.

He also expressed concern at the escalating crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but said the governments of southern, central and east African countries were working with the UN and the Organsiation of African Unity to mediate the crisis and restore peace to the entire Great Lakes region.

The surprise presence of the Congolese President Laurent Kabila and the planned sub-regional mini-summit on the fringes of the NAM forum could reward the efforts of the mediators.

The South African leader also urged the summit to address Libya's dispute with the US and Britain over the 1988 bombing of a Pan-Am flight, the Middle East crisis as well as the problem in Cyprus and the dispute between India and Pakistan.

According to him, NAM ''must defeat the hostile offensive which seeks to present this glorious movement representing billions of people as mere talk shop and an anachronism in world politics.''

The two-day summit is being attended by more than 100 delegations, including some 50 heads of state and government and the secretaries general of the UN, Kofi Annan, and OAU, Salim Ahmed Salim.