African trade bloc sounds warning over global crisis

African countries must work together so that the global economic crisis does not crush them, African trade bloc the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) said on Monday.

“Although it may appear as if it is far from us, the truth is that recession is knocking on our door,” Swaziland’s King Mswati III, who takes over leadership of Comesa in 2010, said after the group held a two-day summit.

“If we fail to work together, the economic crisis will crush us. We can expect a fall in foreign direct investment. For far too long, we have been sending our raw materials abroad and buying finished products at a higher price,” he said.

Global slowdown has brought an abrupt end to the African expansion of the last five years, tipping some mining-reliant economies into recession and others towards marginal rates of growth.

Military intervention
Comesa also called for a return to democracy in Madagascar and said military intervention could be an option to restore democracy to the Indian Ocean island.

In a resolution at the end of the summit, the 19-member organisation condemned the military-backed opposition revolt that ousted Madagascar’s President Marc Ravalomanana in March.

Ravalomanana, who is exiled in South Africa, was at the summit in Zimbabwe to drum up more support after winning the backing of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU).

“We welcome and agreed, as pronounced by the AU, to support SADC as they take a lead in efforts to restore constitutional order in Madagascar by examining all options, including the possibility of military intervention,” Comesa said.

The SADC and the AU both suspended Madagascar after President Andry Rajoelina took over from the elected leader with the help of renegade soldiers, and called the former disc jockey’s seizure of power “a coup”.

Several donors, including the International Monetary Fund, have suspended non-emergency assistance to Madagascar.—Reuters

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