Muabrak gives assurances to Amr Moussa about third term as Arab League Secretary General

May 23, 2010
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Egyptian president Hosni Muabrak has given assurances to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa that he would be a candidate for a third five-year term, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported.

“Cairo has already started coordinating with Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to ensure Arab support for the nomination, particularly that several Arabs countries, mainly in the Western part of the Arab world, have openly expressed their keenness on seeing another secretary general,” Al Jareeda daily said on Sunday, quoting unnamed Egyptian sources.

According to the Kuwaiti daily, Moussa, whose second term ends in May 2011, said in remarks following his meeting with the Egyptian leader about his possible nomination, that “there are arrangements being discussed.”

“There is still ample time to discuss the matter and we are currently working on it,” he told reporters.

The sources said that Egypt would soon start consultations with several Arab countries, including the Gulf countries, in a bid to ensure there is no candidate competing with Moussa, 74, for the position.

Algeria has been spearheading a move within the Arab League to rotate the position, arguing that it was unfair to limit it to Egypt, the headquarters of the pan-Arab alliance.

An initial move was launched in 2005, but was aborted just before the Arab League summit in the Algerian capital.

However, Algeria this year resumed its efforts to win support for the rotation, a move that is causing a rift between supporters and opponents.

Earlier this year, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, the personal representative of the Algerian president, said that the rotation of the post of Arab League secretary general among the member countries was a perfectly sensible move that should be adopted by the Arab states.

“The nature of regional and international organizations comprised of several national members is to rotate posts,” Belkhadem said. “This is a matter of logic and common sense. All Arab states should discuss it. If there is a consensus that the Secretary General should be an Egyptian national, so be it. However, if the member states agree on rotating the post among them, then the agreement should be implemented. Either way, we should ensure that logic and law prevail over tradition,” he said.

According to Belkhadem, the rotation can be based on casting ballots by the states or on clear agreements between the members.

“Rotations happen in the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and others. There is no reason it should not happen in the Arab League,” he said.

In its 65-year history, the Arab League has had six secretaries general, five of whom were from Egypt. Chedli Kelibi, a Tunisian national, was in charge of the League when its headquarters were moved to Tunisia in 1979 following the suspension of Egypt after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visited Jerusalem and paved the way for signing a peace treaty with Israel. Egypt was readmitted into the Arab League in 1987 and the headquarters were moved back to Cairo. A Lebanese national, Assad Al Asaad, held the post in 1990 for a short interim.

Egypt has often had to put up with charges that the Arab league was in fact a department of Egypt’s foreign ministry. The Egyptians have however regularly denied the claims, saying that they were malicious.

The Arab League, founded in 1945, is an association of 22 member states. Even though it has primarily political aims, membership in the league is based on culture rather than geographical location.

The main drive of the League, founded in 1945, is to “draw closer relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.”

However, it has so far failed to achieve a significant degree of regional integration and has no direct relations with the citizens of its member states.

 

Side bar: Arab League secretaries general:

 

Abdul Rahman Azzam 1945 to 1952

 Abdul Khalek Hassouna 1952 to 1972

 Mahmoud Riad 1972 to 1979

 Chedli Klibi 1979 to 1990

 Assad Al Assad 1990 to 1991 (interim)

 Ahmad Esmat Abd al Meguid 1991 to 2001

 Amr Moussa 2001 -Present

 

 

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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