By Barbara Among PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has reiterated that he supports the idea of regional political federation before an African political union. In a speech read by foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa to heads of state attending the Africa Union conference in Sirte, Libya, Museveni argued: Since 1963, I have always belonged to the latter school the school of regional political federations. He said at the regional level there was more potential for cohesion and compatibility than at the continental level. Museveni did not attend the summit that opened in Libya yesterday to deliberate on issues relating to agriculture. Irans hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, both of whom had been invited by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, cancelled at the last minute. Gaddafi is the chairman of the African Union (AU). Press reports said Gaddafi wanted to use the summit to pressure African nations into accepting his vision for a greatly empowered AU executive. Gaddafi wants to bring all African Unions organs under a single federal authority, as part of his campaign for a United States of Africa. However, many countries, especially in the eastern and southern Africa, favour a more gradual approach to integration, according to press reports. This is the third time Museveni is expressing his stand against the formation of a United States of Africa at an AU meeting. In February, in Ethiopia, he clashed with Gaddafi after the two disagreed over the direction of the formation of a single government for all African states. Museveni calls for the strengthening of regional blocs. I would not like to miss this historic opportunity by undertaking more complicated tasks that, in our view, have little viability. He said Uganda supports a three-tiered-integration process: regional political federations, a common market for the whole of Africa and areas of joint or common action. As far as Uganda is concerned (and we already have a rough authorisation for this through consultations throughout East Africa), we are prepared to transfer sovereignty only to the regional federation level, the speech read. He pointed out that his position since 1963 has been in support for African political integration through regional federations. Giving an example of East Africa, Museveni said the shared borders, languages and cultural linkages make it acceptable to all the groups of the region, Congo and parts of Mozambique, to federate. Museveni said one of the obstacles to continental political unity is lack of a common language. You cannot have a country without a common language indigenous or borrowed. USA uses English; India uses English, their own huge linguistic groups (Hindu, Gujarat, Tami and Bengali) notwithstanding; Soviet Union used Russian and Brazil used Portuguese. Museveni added that lack of a common language could also be a source of tensions and even conflict. He also pointed out that there is almost no infrastructure; rail and road linkages. Economic integration does not demand the same degree of cohesion as political integration. A federated East Africa could eventually be a very cohesive part of Africa, using Kiswahili enriched by Bantu and Nilotic/Cushitic dialects. Such a cohesive African state would become the strategic backbone of the African peoples, he explained. Museveni said the AU Committee of seven, which was set up to look into the matter, also identified areas that cannot easily be handled at either the national or regional levels even when regional federations are formed.  The areas of concern include trade negotiations with foreign countries, dealing with the desert (the environment) and inter-state security issues.