Monday, July 26, 2010

Africa to end isolation of Cuba

By Angelo Izama July 27 2010 at Kampala

“I urge the AU to issue a strong statement to end the isolation of Cuba,” said Namibian leader Hifikepunye Pohamba shortly after African Union Chairman Bingu Wa Mutharika invited some leaders to speak at the AU Summit opening ceremony on Sunday. He was supported by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. “I stand up in support of Namibia,” President Zuma said to a round of clapping.
Mr Mutharika then concluded that from the generous handclapping the proposal had been accepted in principle. Many countries including Nigeria, Angola and Libya had also expressed support for an end to Cuba’s status as a pariah in the West and asked that they get together to word a statement on Africa’s position.

Weeks to the conference, Libyan Leader Muammar Gadaffi invited 13 ‘African Diaspora’ states from the Caribbean region, among them Cuba, to the summit. Yesterday the group was represented by Makerere University-trained Prime Minister of St. Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves.

Citing the influence on him by Ghana’s iconic independence leader, Nkwame Nkrumah, and Nelson Mandela, Dr Gonsalves said Cuba had made heroic contributions to Africa’s liberation. He said Cuban armed forces fought selflessly in Angola and elsewhere. “When the soldiers left, then came doctors and nurses”. In a veiled attack of Africa’s experience with Europe and America, he then added that the Cubans did not leave with “gold or oil”.

“I am not making an ideological point. I simply speak the truth” he said. The decision to support diplomatic efforts to end Cuba’s isolation, including decades of US sanctions against the communist nation, is a coup for Cuba at the summit. Havana dispatched its foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez to Kampala.