Friday October 17, 2003 09:15 AM



Bismilahi Rahmani Rahim,

Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister, Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Chairman of the l0th Islamic Summit,

Your Majesties and Highnesses,

Your Excellencies. Heads of State and Government.

Your Excellencies, Ministers and Heads of Delegations,

Mr. Secretary General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. Chairman

On behalf of the African group, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the warm welcome and generous hospitality extended to us since we arrived in Malaysia.

Consistent with the established reputation of the friendly Malaysian people, you have indeed taken all the necessary logistical and organizational steps to ensure our personal comfort and the successful conclusion of our proceedings.

I know for sure that I am just conveying the profound feelings of our delegation as I say "terima kassi" (that is, thank you)

By hosting this 10th Islamic Summit, Malaysia is simply reaffirming a commitment which has never been put in doubt in the defense of the causes of the Ummah.

As early as 1969, Malaysia offered our Organization its first Secretary General in the person of your eminent predecessor, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra A1 Hadj.

To crown it all, the representatives of our Ummah are now meeting in this beautiful city of Putrajaya springing from its green valley like a bud in the Spring as it is overlooked from a distance by two striking symbols of modern Malaysia, I mean, the Twin Towers of Petronas.

Brushing aside all diplomatic niceties, Malaysia is for us a source of pride and a model of development. Your great achievements, including this majestic and future-oriented site where we are now holding our deliberations, constitute an example worth emulating, all the more so because man and nature seem to have concluded a pact satisfying the requirements of modern development while protecting the environment.

Through its creative genius, Malaysia clearly demonstrates that there is no fatality confining us to a permanent state of underdevelopment.

It is gratifying to note that the Ummah

is now convening in Malaysia, a cradle of ancient civilizations, a haven of peace, and a melting pot of cultures and religions in a world fraught with hostilities and turmoil.

Mr. Chairman,

Departing from the usual general discussions, our Ministers, maybe inspired by the "Putrajaya spirit", broke new ground on October 13, with a rich debate on "Knowledge. Morality, Unity and Dignity for the progress of our Ummah".

The flame of change is lit. It is now up to us to keep it alive to show the way forward.

It is true that the road ahead will remain a long one until Palestine, one of the reasons for the existence of our Organization, has been completely liberated.

The African Group solemnly reiterates its solidarity for the triumph of the just causes of our brothers and sisters of Palestine under the leadership of our brother President Yasser Arafat.

The absence of President Yasser Arafat should mobilize our energies for the peaceful settlement of this conflict.

Mr. Chairman,

There have been some positive developments in Africa since our last ordinary Summit: democracy is gaining ground, the African Union has been launched, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) has been born.

True, there are some hot-beds of conflict alive. We have successfully addressed the cases of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and more recently Guinea Bissau. However, a few others remain unsolved. But we hope to be able to resolve them with international cooperation.

We shall come back to this point in greater depth later in our proceedings.

Allow me, before I conclude, to express our gratitude to His Highness Emir Sheikh Hamad Ibn Khalifa Al Thani, the host of the 9th Islamic Summit, for the distinguished services he rendered to the Ummah.

We also pay tribute to Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz who accomplished, with faith and selflessness, the task we entrusted him with at the head of our Organization. He discharged his difficult and delicate duties as Secretary General of the OIC with commitment, determination, efficiency and skill.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to conclude by recalling your own words when you said that our States "have a duty to ensure that the ongoing globalization does not lead to the marginalization of their countries as was the case with the industrial revolution".

We shall remember this message as a legacy to the present and future generations, as you prepare to leave your eminent post as Prime Minister after many years of hard work at the service of your country and the cause of the developing world.

The world is presently entering the e-civilization into the forefront of which you ushered Malaysia. We shall follow your footsteps with confidence so that for the first time Africa (and the Ummah) can be among those who make history and not those who suffer it.

We wish you the best of health, long life and personal well-being.

Wassalamou Alaikoum Wa Rahmatouliahi.