28 January 2013

Ethiopia PM Is New AU Chief

Addis Ababa — ETHIOPIAN Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has been elected chairperson of the African Union (AU), taking over from Benin President Boni Yayi.

Mr Dessalegn was elected during the 20th Ordinary session of the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government being attended by President Michael Sata.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Dessalegn affirmed his determination to do his utmost in discharging responsibilities bestowed upon him.

He said there were a number of priority issues, which deserved the attention of the AU this year as the continental body was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, the precursor of the AU.

"This year we have a lot of work to do to mark the Golden Jubilee of our organisation, sustain Africa's growth momentum, strengthen our partnership with the rest of the world, adopt the strategic plan for our union for the periods 2014-2017," he said.

He said the theme of the summit entitled "Pan Africanism and African Renaissance" was fitting for the continental body as it celebrated the Golden Jubilee.

"It affords us the opportunity to take stock of our achievements and challenges over the last 50 years and chart a way forward to realise our vision of creating a peaceful, democratic, prosperous and United Africa taking its rightful place in the world," he said.

Mr Dessalegn said there was no doubt that Africa could sustain the growth momentum that it had achieved over the last decade.

Meanwhile, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says Africa has the experience to come up with solutions to its challenges and contribute to global goals of inclusive growth and social justice.

In his address to the AU 20th Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State and Government yesterday, Mr Ban said some of the world's fastest-growing economies were in Africa.

"Many countries have made important gains towards the Millennium Development Goals. More African children are in schools, especially girls.

"More clinics are helping more women survive childbirth. More African women sit in Government and key decision-making positions," he said.

Mr Ban, however, said he was concerned about the hundreds of millions of Africans living in poverty.

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