Ethiopia: Guinean President assumes AU Chairmanship

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Guinean President Alpha Conde has assumed the rotational Chairmanship of the African Union (AU) during a Summit dedicated to the election of a new Bureau of the Union and the leader of its Addis Ababa-based AU Commission, PANA reported on Monday.

The Guinean President, who played a critical role in managing the recent political transition in The Gambia, assumed the Chairmanship of the 28th Summit of the AU in the Ethiopian capital, dedicated to the discussions about the youth and the steps required to promote youth investment.

The AU Summit is attended by the newly-appointed U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has dedicated his time since arriving to the conflict and the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

President Conde was handed the AU flag by the outgoing Chairman, President Idriss Deby of Chad, who chaired the Summit during a period of relative progress in democracy and peaceful political change of power, witnessed in Ghana, The Gambia, Benin, Sao Tome and Principe, Ghana and Uganda.

However, the progress in democracy was also marked by drawbacks, including the shutdown of the internet in some countries, including the hosts, Ethiopia, where a state of emergency remains in place.

The AU Summit launched the theme of this year, Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in the Youth, which is expected to dominate discussions throughout the year.

Before arriving at the Summit room, named the Nelson Mandela Conference Hall, the leaders met during a closed session to discuss the formation of a new management bureau, which decides on the work programme of the Summit and to take a decision on how to finance the organization.

Earlier, the leaders held a closed session to discuss proposals on how to manage the affairs of the organization and the internal reforms that are required.

The leaders received a report from Rwandan President Paul Kagame on what should be reformed.

Sources told PANA the Rwandan President has proposed a raft of measures, including reducing the number of the AU Commissioners to just three, who would be appointed by a powerful AU Commission Chairperson, who is due to be elected during a closed session on Monday afternoon.

There were fears the adoption of the Kagame proposal would lead to the postponement of the election of the new AU Chairperson and the Commissioners.

The proposal to postpone the election of the Commission officials pending a review of the organization was, however, defeated, according to a source.

President Kagame’s proposals include reforming the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), made of ambassadors accredited to the AU, who are felt to overpower the Secretariat in the decision-making processes, sometimes leading to a form of paralysis of the Commission.

The Rwandan leader argues the PRC has assumed too much power than it was originally accorded.

The other issue on the Summit agenda is the admission of Morocco into the AU as the 55th member.

The proposal has been opposed by the Saharawi Arab Republic, whose foreign minister, Mohamed Salem Salek, argues such a move would be against the AU Constitutive Act, because it makes Morocco the last official colonizer in the continent, which is against the Constitutive Act.

“There has been a proposal to appoint a Presidential panel to look into Morocco’s request for admission. If this is accepted, the process may take some time, but it does not require a layman to tell that this request is against the Constitutive Act. Morocco must leave its occupation of Western Sahara,” said a diplomat.

At least 50 candidates have also applied for election to the positions of Commissioner.

The reform measures being proposed by President Kagame suggest the AU should retain just a few areas of expertise and competences on peace and security, regional integration and trade and devolve all other issues to the regional economic blocs, which would pay closer attention.
-0- PANA AO/MA 30Jan2017

30 january 2017 11:52:57




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