|Habib Ben Yahia new Secretary general of UMA [08/01/2006]
The council of ministers of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) has confirmed the appointment of Tunisia's former foreign minister Habib Ben Yahia as new secretary general of the five-nation sub-region grouping that brings together Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia with effect from 1 February 2006.
The UMA foreign ministers, who started their 24th session here on Saturday, also discussed several issues related to the promotion of economic integration in the Maghreb, especially the creation of the proposed Magreb Bank for Investment and External Trade and launching a Magreb free zone.
They also examined draft projects on the creation of a Maghreb economic community, formation of a refection group on the Maghreb strategy as well as cooperation in food security.
The ministers commended the Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Kadhafi, the current UMA chairman for his efforts to consolidate the sub- regional grouping and revive its institutions.
The foreign ministers affirmed that since Kadhafi assumed the UMA chairmanship, he has used his wisdom an experience to give the union greater dynamism and a new impetus to its organs, which have resumed their periodical meetings.
They reiterated their respective countries' commitment to the UMA as a strategic option for the achievement of complementarity and integration.
The foreign ministers also affirmed their support for ongoing efforts to ensure the functioning of UMA organs and institutions so as to strengthen is performance to meet the population's legitimate aspirations.
On his part, the Mauritanian foreign minister underscored the importance of the visit to Libya last December by the chairman of the ruling Military Council for Justice and Democracy (CMJD) and Mauritania's President, Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall.
He said that the objective of that visit was to expose Mauritania's new political outlook and its desire to maintain strong fraternal relations with Libya.
Libyan foreign affairs and international cooperation minister, Abderrahman Chalgham, the current chair of the UMA council of ministers, as well as his counterparts from Tunisia, Abdelwahab Abdallah, Algeria (Mohamed Bejaoui), Mauritania (Ahmed Ould Sidi Ahmed)and the secretary general in the Moroccan foreign ministry, Omar Hilal, as well as the outgoing UMA secretary general, Habib Boularès of Tunisia, attended the 24th UMA council of ministers.