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The only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence from Britain in 1980 assumed the largely ceremonial role when he was handed the AU flag and gavel at a summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. In his acceptance speech, Africa's oldest head of state spoke of the need to guard against foreigners exploiting the continent's mineral wealth and called for more assistance for African farmers. "African resources should belong to Africa and to no one else, except to those we invite as friends. "Zimbabwe is an important member state, a very committed country," Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra told Reuters on the sidelines of the summit.