The 36th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) opened last week, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the transfer of the organisation’s rotating presidency to the Head of State of the Comoros, Azali Assoumani.
It is the first time that an island state has assumed such a position, in a ceremony witnessed by the President of the Republic of Angola, João Lourenço.
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The 64-year-old Statesman of the Union of the Comoros succeeds in the rotating presidency of the AU Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, who today completed his mandate for the year 2022.
In his speech, the new AU president set peace, security, inter-African trade, energy transition and good governance as priorities.
He also made a commitment to work together with all member countries during his tenure and paid tribute to the AU founding fathers.
He congratulated his country for the trust placed in the rotating presidency of the continental organisation, noting that, with this act, it was clear that all countries, regardless of their size, have the same rights and duties.
He highlighted the work carried out by his predecessor, fundamentally in creating conditions for Africa to soon join the G20 group.
President Macky Sall, in his closing remarks, wished his successor a successful presidency and thanked AU Member States, as well as the AU Cabinet, for their support during his tenure.
The President of Senegal listed, even so, “some achievements” under his presidency of the Union, namely, the economic empowerment of women and young people, the strengthening of democracy and good governance, pacification of conflicts on the continent, among other development under Agenda 2063.
The outgoing President of the AU hailed, on the occasion, the efforts that the President of the Republic of Angola, João Lourenço, has made towards the pacification of the conflict between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
He expressed concern about the advance of terrorism in the continent, the persistence of conflicts (old and new) and the resurgence of unconstitutional changes.
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He said that during his tenure he has striven to support conflict resolution and accompany political transitions with the support of Member States, regional economic communities and regional mechanisms.
According to the Senegalese statesman, the continent’s pacification is still an unachieved objective, calling for the implementation of the commitments of the Extraordinary Summit of Malabo, held in May 2022, which defined the operational of the African Force in State of Alert, as well as the creation of a counter-terrorism unit.
Macky Sall also spoke of the need for reforms in the United Nations Security Council, noting that this issue “is not evolving as expected.
In turn, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, welcomed the progress of the African Agenda 2063 and the acceleration towards the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
He understands that developing countries must have a greater voice in global affairs, including in financial institutions.
He recognised that, at the UN Security Council level, this is where Africa is frighteningly underrepresented.
“We need a new debt architecture that can pressure debt relief and restructuring to vulnerable countries, including middle-income countries while also waiting for debt suspension to the most affected countries”, he pointed out.
António Guterres made a commitment to continue to press G20 leaders for further domestic stimulation of the sustainable development goals to support the southern hemisphere.
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“It is important that we reform this financial system and I will always be on your side in this fight (…)”. For the UN secretary general, Africa needs climate action, underlining that there is a brutal injustice of climate change as floods, drought, famine, heat waves that affect the continent.
The opening ceremony of the African Union Summit was also marked by the speeches delivered by the President of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as well as the Secretary General of the League of Arab States and the Prime Minister of Palestine.
The 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, which takes place at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the motto “Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)” elected the composition of the new Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union to 2023. DC/AL/ADR