April 01, 2004 03:50 PM

Michael Jackson has been invited to take his show on the road, this time to Africa, where ambassadors from that country believe the pop star’s cachet can make a difference in their nation’s fight against AIDS.

At a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington on Wednesday, a handful of lawmakers endorsed a plan in which the beleaguered singer would travel to Africa for a tour with proceeds going to fight AIDS, the Associated Press reports. “This man is going to lead the global effort” against AIDS, said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., as Jackson stood next to him.

But the logistics of the plan seemed suspect, especially because Jackson was forced to surrender his passport after being charged with child molestation in November. Any effort to leave the country on Jackson’s part would require the okay of the California court.

Jackson has pleaded innocent to seven charges of committing a lewd act with a child under the age of 14 and two counts of administering alcohol to a minor. A grand jury is currently meeting in Santa Barbara, Calif. – the county in which Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is located – to determine whether to indict the pop star. Regardless of the decision, it is likely the case will go to trial.

Wednesday marked the second day in Washington for Jackson, who initially sought a meeting with the 38-member Congressional Black Caucus. The entire group refused to meet with the singer, although a few representatives did grant him an audience. In the hallway of a House of Representatives office building, Jackson supporters screamed and chanted his name and clapped as bodyguards moved him along, AP reports.

At a hastily convened news conference announcing the tour, Jackson’s only words were “That wasn’t loud enough,” when the proposed shows met with only a smattering of applause.

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