- As the President of São Tomé and Príncipe, Fradique de Menezes, leaves for the African Union (AU) summit in Maputo, he will not be able to vote there. São Tomé has failed to pay its contributions to the AU.
President Menezes was forced to admit that he would not be able to participate in the AU's voting process when meeting the press in São Tomé, the capital of the island state. Nonetheless, he was heading to the AU summit, which is to start in the Mozambican capital Maputo tomorrow.
São Tomé and Príncipe is a small islands nation with widespread poverty and en enormous debt burden. Therefore, the government had not been able to comply to its membership fees in various international organisations, as President Menezes could confirm before departure.
- There is almost no international organisation where our country is member, which has its accounts settled, Mr Menezes was quoted by the national daily 'Téla Nón'. "It's the same here in the sub-region to the United Nations, where we don't have voting rights, because it has been difficult for our country to settle its accounts with all these institutions."
The São Toméan President however added that "the fact that one country doesn't pay its fees doesn't mean that it doesn't participate in the functions of these organisations." Therefore, and to show solidarity with the fellow Portuguese-speaking country Mozambique, now heading the AU, President Menezes was going to participate in the AU summit.
As such, the São Toméan representative to the AU summit will be met with all honours and participate in all forums. Only when the final moment of voting comes, Mr Menezes will have to look to the floor.
The African Union on 1 July moved its Presidency from South Africa to Mozambique, following a rotation scheme. Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano thus now acts as President of the Union.
The permanent Commission of the AU is however also looking for a new President, and had, until today a São Toméan candidate. Ex-President of the archipelago, Miguel Trovoada, according to the news agency PANA, now has been disqualified because he had presented his candidacy too late.
With Mr Trovoada out of the race, Malian ex-President Alpha Omar Konaré now is headed for the important post. Also Amara Essy, the AU Commission's Interim President, is reported to have withdrawn his candidacy.
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