AU Summit opens in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The 16th ordinary session of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit opened here Sunday, with a closed-door session preceding the official opening ceremony, PANA reported from the Ethiopian capital.

As expected, the crisis in Cote d’ Ivoire and the planned transformation of the organization into an authority are top on the agenda.

The African leaders are expected to clear the final obstacles to the formation of an African Union Authority, to replace the Commission, but the structure of such an Authority has been a hot subject of debate.

A proposal to hand over all the executive powers of the AU to the AU Authority has been fiercely opposed by a number of African leaders, who claim that such a step would affect the sovereignty of their nations.

The AU Commission has hired several consultants to try to work out a possible middle course for the Heads of State and Government, who advocate for immediate creation of the Authority, and those opposed to the idea, which is expected to lead to the formation of the United States of Africa.

Dozens of African leaders, including South African President Jacob Zuma and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, are in for the Summit.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, the incoming Chair of the Group of Eight, is expected to address the Summit later Monday.

Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obieng Nguema is expected to take over the leadership of the Summit from Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who made the subject of a food sufficient Africa his topmost priority during his term.

The summit will also discuss the report of the Committee of Heads of State and Government on Climate Change. The members of the Committee include Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.  

Also included on the agenda of the 16th AU Heads of State and Government summit is the consideration of the report of the Chairperson of NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.

One of NEPAD’s programmes is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), an African self-monitoring instrument.

Other issues that will be debated by the leaders are reports on the United Nations Reforms.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, speaking last night during a High-Level mini-Summit of the AU to discuss the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, called for a unified African position on the demand for incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to go.

“Our first duty is to the people of Cote d’Ivoire. We have an obligation to remain firm and united, and signal to Africa’s peoples that our commitment to our principles is real,” Ban said, in his strongest signal so far, of the need to push Gbagbo out of power.

AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping has ruled out the possible use of force to oust the incumbent Ivorian President, saying “The use of force is that last thing after everything. The use of force could be a cowardly move.”

Ban has called on President-elect Alassane Ouattara to immediately assume control and form a national unity government to include Gbagbo supporters.

“We must preserve a unified position, act together and stand firm against Mr. Gbagbo’s attempt to hang on to power through the use of force,” Ban said.

The AU Summit is also expected to announce the full composition of the panel of five African leaders who are to help resolve the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 30Jan2011

30 january 2011 07:51:04




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