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Cablegate: Oau Hiv/Aids Summit in Abuja

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O.12958: N/A

1. Thirty-five African heads of state attended the
Extraordinary OAU Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Other Related Infectious Diseases held in Abuja April 26-
27. Featured guest speakers included UN Secretary General
Koffi Annan and former President Bill Clinton. Jerry
Rawlings, former President of Ghana, was also there. The
purpose of the Summit was to forge a common African
understanding of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the form of the
so-called Abuja Declaration and to approve an OAU Action
Plan two months in advance of the worldwide AIDS Conference
at the UN General Assembly.

2. After emotive speeches by individuals representing
persons living with AIDS, TB victims and African youth,
Secretary General Annan mounted the podium and called for a

"Marshall Plan" to combat HIV/AIDS. He sketched the broad
outlines of a proposed five-point program and announced the
establishment of an international AIDS fund that would, if
fully funded, make available USDols 7 to 10 billion per
year to fight AIDS world-wide. Former President Clinton
acknowledged the need for such a fund, but warned that it
could only be effective if every African Head of State
began immediately to put systems into place to ensure that
money from the fund would be effectively utilized in
national HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Clinton recalled
how President Obasanjo embraced a woman living with
HIV/AIDS when the two Presidents attended a symposium in
Abuja in August 2000. He said that simple act sent a
powerful message throughout Nigeria, and challenged other
leaders to follow Obasanjo's example. The former
President also praised the efforts of Angola and Ghana to
de-stigmatize the disease.

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3. The five-member official American delegation was headed
by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Nancy
Powell. Other members included Acting Assistant
Administrator of USAID Valerie Dickson-Horton, Special
Adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Willis Morris, Director of the US Pulic Health Service
Office of HIV/AIDS Dr. Eric Goosby, and Timothy W. Smith of
State/OES. Acting AFR/AA Dickson-Horton presented a paper
on Sustainable Resource Mobilization to Fight HIV/AIDS in
the third of four Heads-of-State panels, this one chaired
by a relatively restrained Col. Muammar Qadhafi.

4. The "Message of Hope" Ambassador Powell was to deliver
on behalf of Secretary of State Powell and Secretary of
Health and Human Services Thompson was bumped from the
opening ceremony. This appeared to have been an
intentional snub by lower-level conference organizers who
were disappointed at the level of U.S. representation and
that Secretary Powell did not attend. Embassy intervention
with senior Nigerian and OAU officials succeeded in getting
the "Message" back on the program in the time slot
originally envisioned -- during the signing of the Abuja
Declaration. The "Message" received prominent press
coverage, as did speeches by Presidents Obasanjo, Moi,
Kerekou, Eyadema and Bouteflika and former Ghanaian
President Rawlings.

5. In the Abuja Declaration, participating Heads of State
committed themselves to take personal responsibility and a
direct leadership role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in
their respective countries. Most dramatically,
participants pledged to "set a target" allocation of 15
percent of their annual budgets for "improvement of the
health sector," while "scaling up" HIV/AIDS education. The
Declaration urges increased foreign assistance to Africa,
as well as outright debt forgiveness for the Continent,
which participants agreed to devote to "investment in the
social sector."

6. The Abuja Framework for Action set forth concrete
objectives for arresting rates of HIV, TB and other related
infectious diseases. The Action Plan's objectives call on
African leaders to: (1) adequately fund primary health
care, (2) develop national policies to combat these
diseases and to control their socio-economic side-effects,
{3) establish "sustainable mechanisms" for funding HIV
prevention and treatment, and (4) attend to the needs of
women, children, and other vulnerable segments of the
population. The "Framework" envisages a strong role for
the OAU in monitoring individual states' progress in
implementing their own country-specific plans, and calls on
the OAU to develop a continent-wide action plan to be
presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2001.

7. The only sour note in the Summit came during the "Vote
of Thanks" in the closing ceremony. Conference organizers,
in an incredible lapse of judgment, assigned the task of
thanking the Nigerian hosts and the OAU sponsors to Col.
Qadhafi. After five minutes of murmuring appropriate
sentiments for the occasion, the Libyan leader launched
into an anti-US diatribe, in which he accused the CIA of
developing the AIDS virus to debilitate the developing
world and create markets for US pharmaceutical "profit

8. When it became apparent that Qadhafi planned to sustain
his diatribe, the official US delegation walked out, as did
the official Japanese delegation and former President
Rawlings among others. President Obasanjo, who chaired the
closing session, appeared genuinely miffed at Qadhafi's
conduct. When the Libyan President finished, Obasanjo
said, "Well, our friend and brother has made a statement;
he has made a l-o-n-g statement; and somewhere in that
statement there was also a vote of thanks." We later heard
from numerous sources that President Obasanjo, OAU
Secretary General Salim A. Salim and many of the African

delegations were livid about Qadhafi's antics, which they
felt was a blight on an otherwise milestone Summit.

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