Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) converged and began holding their 36th Ordinary Session today, 18 February 2023, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During the official opening ceremony, the President of the Union of Comoros H.E Azali Assoumani was elected by his peers to manage the destiny of the Organisation for the next one year.
Key speakers during the official opening ceremony which took place in the Mandela Hall of the AU Conference Centre, included H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission; H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; the Secretary General of the League of Arab States; H.E. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations; the Prime Minister of Palestine, H.E Mohammad Shyyyeh; the outgoing Chairperson of the Union, H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal in the presence of the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, H.E. Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa; AUC Commissioners and Staff as well as invited dignitaries and partners of the AU.
Addressing the Assembly, H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat began by paying tribute to President Macky Sall of Senegal, for his numerous achievements during his mandate as Chair of the Union. He stated that the 36th AU Summit is taking place at a time when the international context is marked by worrying uncertainties, fueled by geopolitical conflicts, fragmented economic governance, with unforeseeable consequences for Africa. “Over the past three years, global economic growth has lost momentum and inflation is rising higher rates…. Faced with such a situation, it is imperative that our Member States decide, with determination, in their economic and development choices. The activation of various mechanisms of internal resilience, intra-African solidarity, rapid implementation of African financial institutions, all supported by virtuous governance seems in my view to be the way to salvation,” underscored the AUC Chairperson.
Mr. Moussa Faki went further to call on the need for Pan-Africanism of the Member State and avoid “the paradigm in which we see, arms folded when the house of the neighbour burned… This paradigm is a form of collective resignation of conscience that has nothing to do with our culture and even less with our civilization, both of which are based on mutual aid. The shocking example of these realities is given today by the countries confronted with terrorism, which fight, often alone in general indifference.
Where is our Pan-Africanism? Where is our solidarity? Where is our brotherhood…?” questioned the AUC Chairperson. Hence the need to accelerate with determination the economic integration project, by operationalizing the AfCFTA, which is the theme chosen by the AU for the year 2023.
Chairperson Moussa Faki, however, expressed regrets with the recent resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government, accentuating political instability and the weakening of States. These, he said, has led to violent extremism, terrorism, the inherent conflict in electoral processes, inter-community conflicts and climate change. Meanwhile, on a more positive note, AUC Chairperson expressed satisfaction with the progress made to “Silencing the Guns” in the continent over the decade as the Union has invested itself fully in the resolution and mitigation of several crises.
Finally, the AUC Chairperson announced the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to be celebrated this year, the benefits of the twentieth anniversary of the AU that was commemorated in 2022, and the first decade of Agenda 2063. He urged the Member countries to endeavour and complete with tenacity and fervour the work begun by “our founding fathers in the sixties”.
Welcoming his peers to Addis Ababa, H.E. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia thanked African countries for their continuous support and contribution to help finding lasting solution to the peace efforts in Ethiopia. He emphasised on the principle for African solution to African problems calling on Member States to show solidarity with one another in times of crisis. PM Abiy announced that Ethiopia is proud to leverage its exportation of goods to other countries with the view to mitigate the problems of hunger in the continent. “One third of the hungry people in the world are in Africa,” noted the Prime Minister while urging the Member countries that now that COVID-19 pandemic is almost over, Africa needs to put themselves in the growth trajectory. Prime Minister Abiy also acknowledged the fact that because Africa is now leading as key player in the international scene, it is but normal that it be recognised with at least a permanent seat in the UN General Assembly Security Council. Finally P.M Abiy reiterated the need for the Union to have a continental Media House as Africa needs to tell its own story rather than relying on external media.
UN Secretary General, H.E. Antonio Guterres, stated that the African Union is taking inspiring steps to help realize the enormous potential of “this great continent…. Africa is poised for progress”, he said, highlighting Agenda 2063, the Decade of Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion, the continent’s abundance of natural resources, and its greatest advantage of all — its people, representing a diverse range of cultures and languages.
“In particular, I’m pleased to see your strong focus on job-creation and the enormous
potential of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” stated the UN Secretary General, saying that this represents a truly transformative pathway to job-creation and new sources of prosperity for Africans, especially for the youth. “The United Nations is proud to be your partner and to work together… The ties between the African Union and the United Nations have never been stronger. But I also recognize the enormous tests that Africa — and indeed our world — is facing on virtually every front.”
Taking the floor outgoing Chair of the Union, President Macky Sall, presented to his peers some of the achievements during his mandate as Chair of the African Union for the year 2022. He highlighted some challenges which Africa had to overcome such as the effects of global warming, climate change, unprecedented health crisis, terrorism on the continent, the persistence of old or new conflicts, and the resurgence of coups. He informed the Assembly that he was successfully involved on dispute resolution and supporting transitions policies, with the support of the Commission and the RECs, among others. He said he was very happy with the outcome of the 2nd Dakar Conference on Agriculture and food security (Dakar 2), co- organized by Senegal and AfDB from January 25 to 27, under the theme “Feeding Africa, Food Sovereignty and Resilience”, geared towards action, for an Africa that finally gives itself the means to feed itself and help feed the world.
“It would also be appropriate to integrate into the same process the follow-up to the Joint Declaration on Food Security from the United States-Africa Summit last December. To this end, I have set up a task force led by the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who is already working with the Commission and the American side on the implementation of the objectives of the Declaration. In the short term, this means ensuring our countries’ supply of cereal products and fertilizers to normal market conditions.” Underlined President Macky Sall before adding that on the other hand, with regard to economic governance and financial world, “I am pleased to report that the Africa’s accession process as a full member of the G20 is on the right track, following the steps that I carried out in this direction immediately after taking office”.
For two days, the summit will examine among others the strategic status report of their session such as the Report on the Institutional Reforms of the AU to be presented by H.E Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; the Report on the activities of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the state of peace and security in Africa; the Report on global political, financial and energy policy governance, to be presented by H.E Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; and the Report on global food crisis.
Reports of Heads of State and Government committees of the Assembly notably, the Reports of the forum of Heads of State and Government participating in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) by H.E. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Chairperson of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); the Report of the AUDA-NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee; and the Report of the AU Committee of Ten (C-10) Heads of State and Government on the Reform of the UN Security Council will also be considered during the summit.
Reports of the Leaders on specific thematic issues such as the Annual Report of the AUC Chairperson including the Champions reports; the report on the African Union response on COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, by H.E Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and AU Champion for the COVID-19 pandemic response; Report on the evaluation of the First-Ten Year Implementation Plan (STYIP) by H.E Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire; and the report on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by H.E Mahamadou Issoufou, former President of the Republic of Niger and leader on AfCFTA; including the report of the Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), will also be discussed during the summit, before concluding on the adoption of the date and venue of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union and the date and venue of the 5th Mid-Year Coordination meeting.
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