Aidoghie Paulinus, Addis Ababa
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has assumed the leadership of the African Union (AU).
The change of baton took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
El-Sisi took over from Rwanda President Paul Kagame who assumed the position of the Chairperson of the AU on January 28, 2018.
The AU also launched its 2019 theme: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa.”
Kagame, in his remarks, said the agenda for the summit reflected the capacity of the AU to address an increasingly complex range of challenges and priorities.
Kagame added that the AU’s objective during his one year leadership was to continue building a stronger and more capable African Union that is able to deliver on the pillars of Agenda 2063 and better represent Africa’s interests on the global stage.
Kagame added that the steps forward that were achieved, reflect the long-standing commitment and aspirations of Africa’s leaders and citizens.
“The Continental Free Trade Area was signed, and now, less one year later, it stands only weeks away from entry into force, thanks to the accelerating pace of ratification.
“We commend Guinea Bissau for signing the instrument during this summit, and encourage those signatories who have not yet ratified to do so at the earliest opportunity,” Kagame said.
Kagame added that in 2018, the AU under his leadership strengthened its partnerships with other regions, both in substance and tone, assuring that the trend will continue.
Kagame recalled that the re-launched Peace Fund currently stands at $89 million, with 50 member states contributing.
“This demonstrates the force of our collective resolve and ability. We will continue to work with the United Nations towards a sustainable mechanism for funding African-led peace support operations,” Kagame further said.
Kagame also said in order for Africa to secure its place, Africa must face the world as a unified bloc and work closely with other regional organisations and the private sector, to ensure that the interests and rights of Africans in their own data are guaranteed.
“This urgent task is yet another reason why it was necessary to strengthen the African Union’s capabilities. To fulfil our political objectives, we require an organisation that is agile, healthy and effective.
“What remains is to pass the baton to the next Chairperson of the Union, my friend and brother, His Excellency, Abdul Fatthah Al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt,” Kagame stated.
In his acceptance speech, the Egyptian President noted the negative effect of terrorism on the African continent, which he said, remained a cancer affecting Africa.
He said the continent must deal decisively with the trend by combating those behind terrorists’ activities.