|Kagame opens the AU Summit. Photos @UrugwiroVillage|
The African Union will support peaceful political changes in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, President Paul Kagame has said.
"As a Union we stand with the peoples of Ethiopia and Zimbabwe in their pursuit of peaceful political change. We condemn the violent attacks and convey our condolences for the lives that have been lost," Kagame said while opening a meeting of the supreme organ of the African Union, the Assembly, which comprises Heads of State and Government of all the 55 African countries.
He was stating the African Union's stand following assassination attempts on the Presidents's of Zimbabwe and Ethiopia last month.
A hand grenade was thrown at Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he left an election rally. Two people were killed, while Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri were injured.
Mnangagwa is attending his first AU meeting in Mauritania.
President Kagame of Rwanda, who is the current chair of the African Union, also hailed efforts to return peace in South Sudan, and the thawing relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The AU chair said the 31st ordinary session were also "heartened by the strides made by the leadership of Eritrea and Ethiopia toward the normalisation of relations. You have the African Union’s unwavering support."
Video: President Kagame chairs the 31st #AUSummit of Heads of State and Government. pic.twitter.com/0LD5Y0DXWt— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) July 2, 2018
South Sudan also had special mention in Kagame's opening speech. South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar have met twice in the past month.
"I also wish to acknowledge the encouraging steps in the South Sudan peace process thanks to the mediation of the IGAD-mandated Heads of State. The African Union expects the parties to fully abide by the agreements," Kagame said.
He assured the heads of state that as a direct result of the growing confidence in the AU finances the African Union is in a position to work toward a long-term partnership with the United Nations Security Council for stable funding for peacekeeping operations in Africa.
"Through this process, the 2019 budget presented to the Assembly for consideration has even been reduced by 12 per cent compared to 2018. At the same time contributions to the Peace Fund have never been higher," he said.
On day one of the AU meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania, five more countries joined 44 who have signed the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.
South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Burundi, and Namibia signed the agreement at the AU Summit. while Eswatini and Chad deposited their instruments of ratification in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
The AU agenda
The supreme organ of the African Union, the Assembly, which comprises Heads of State and Government of all the 55 African countries, has begun its 31st ordinary session. The Assembly meeting is the culmination of the statutory meetings and was preceded by the meetings of the Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee.
Among the responsibilities of the Assembly are to, receive, consider and take decisions on reports and recommendations from the organs of the Union; monitor the implementation of policies and decisions of the Union, as well as ensure compliance by all member states; and give directives to the Executive Council on the management of conflicts, war and other emergency situations.
In this regard, the Heads of State and Government will receive several reports including the status of the implementation of the AU Institutional Reforms to be presented by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda who is the current chair of the African Union and the champion for the AU Institutional Reforms process; President.
Mamadou Issoufou of Niger will report on the status of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which has been signed by 44 countries.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission MMoussa Faki Mahamat will present reports on the issue of Western Sahara as well as a report on the African Common Position Post 2020.
Reports on Peace and Security on the continent will also be presented to gauge the progress made in reducing armed conflicts on the continent in line with AU master roadmap of practical steps towards Silencing the Guns which is one of the key projects of Africa’s Agenda 2063.
On his part while speaking on the issues peace and security, the AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat noted that the question of peace, security and stability remained a major pre-occupation on the continent saying “The attack on the headquarters of the G5 a few days ago, highlights the need for increased mobilisation in support of the region, if necessary.”
The Summit is being held under the 2018 theme of the year “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation. The Mauritanian President, Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz underscored the importance of the theme, saying, “Winning the fight against corruption is a prerequisite for our progress and prosperity”. A panel discussion led by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the champion of the 2018 theme will take place at the Summit and it aims to evaluate the progress made in fighting corruption and developing new strategies to curb the vice.
The Assembly was addressed by the UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed who remarked that the AU and UN are working together successfully across the continent with Africa firmly in the lead and there was a need to do more to strengthen the partnership.
The Assembly was also addressed by Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League and Dr. Riad Malki Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine who made a statemen on behalf of the President of PalestineMahmoud Abbas representative of the leader of the State of Palestine.