Ethiopia: Gambia's power transfer dominates AU Summit opening session

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -The peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia and the role played by the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) dominated the opening session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Monday.

African Union Chairperson Alpha Conde, who is the President of Guinea, presented an award of recognition to ECOWAS Chairperson and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which had messages of appreciation to the AU and the ECOWAS leaders, for working towards the peaceful transfer of power in Gambia after years of dictatorship.

"The unity of our continent propelled our continent," said President Conde, who has just taken over the AU chair.

Conde was instrumental in ensuring the peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia by personally convincing former president Yahya Jammeh to bow out of office.

"Africa is one individual state and its leaders are capable of speaking with one voice. The stronger we are, the more we will be heard all over the world. Under our outgoing AU Chairman, President Idriss Deby, we have demonstrated that we cannot be indifferent," Conde said in his acceptance speech.

President Deby described his mission as the AU Chair during the past one year as a challenging mission which required a "huge commitment and sacrifice."

"I worked passionately in the accomplishment of this task, dedicating it to the delicate task of security, stability and peace which formed my mantra," President Deby said.

The 28th Summit of the AU, which has a list of urgent issues to discuss, kicked off with a closed-door session, where the re-admission of Morocco into the continental body and the financing of the AU were discussed.

Conde kicked off the Summit deliberations by recognizing the election of Gambian President Adama Barrow, the new Ghanaian President Nana Akuffo Addo, Sao Tome and Principe, President Ernesto Alvaros and Seychelles newly elected President James Alix Michel.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made his maiden international appearance in Addis Ababa since taking over the world body early this month, praised the African leaders for their pursuit of democracy and good governance.

"I want to work with you to break the cycle of conflict and violence triggered by marginalization and violent extremism. You have been consistent in your stand against the unconstitutional changes of government and the principles of good governance. You can count on the UN support to promote good governance and prevent violent extremism," the UN Chief said.

Guterres pledged to raise the level of engagement between the UN and the AU to a higher level, and to work with African leaders to press for greater financial and technical support for development.

The UN Chief said the implementation of his vision has already seen him appoint Nigeria's Amina Mohamed as the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.

"I see several areas to raise the level of our strategic partnership," he added.

The opening session also saw the African leaders welcome the election of Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister, who until his appointment to head the UN was UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

During the opening session, the outgoing AU Chair briefed the Heads of State on the progress in the negotiations towards an end to the political crisis in Libya, which has been unstable politically.

"We have been able to rise up although we have not been able to restore stability in Libya. We have tried to help them wriggle out of their current challenges," President Deby said.

He also requested the new UN Secretary-General to consult with African leaders on a priority and permanent platform of engagement.

The Summit is set to discuss the readmission of Morocco into the AU-fold, investments required to assist the youth in job-creation and poverty eradication; and the creation of a single free trade area for Africa, known as the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

-0- PANA AO/AR 30Jan 2017

30 january 2017 16:41:16

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