29 January 2013

Africa: AU Summit Wraps Up

Addis Ababa — The 20th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) ended its two-day meeting on Monday in the capital of Ethiopia, concluding extended discussions about issues concerning the peace and development of the continent.

The newly-elected chairperson of the African Union (AU) and Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said the state of peace and security of the continent were among the issues most extensively discussed at the summit, including the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia.

Desalegn said in his one-year term, he would focus on addressing poverty while taking care of peace and security on the African continent.

"We [will] focus on economic transformation on the continent. This is the basis for all, even for conflict resolution and peace and stability, on the continent.

"Africa is emerging and becoming the next growth pole and out of the 10 [fastest growing] economies in the world, six are in Africa. That shows Africa is on the rise; but, we have to expedite, deepen what we have already started.

"In the meantime, we have to take care of peace and security, which is emerging in some of our member states. There are technical issues that we are going to address in this one year to pacify our continent. So, we will focus on the peace and security issues," said Desalegn.

The AU Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said she saw a brighter future for the continent based on the achievements made so far in the last decade.

She cited economic growth surpassing 10% annually in some countries as an indication that indeed the continent was on a growth trajectory. The discovery of new wealth like oil and gas would also help the continent generate new revenue.

The year 2013 will be about consolidating the gains and planning the next medium term development goals.

"A long-term African Union-wide strategic framework is under development. Similarly, the four-year AU Commission Strategy (2013-2017) is being finalised," she said.

On Monday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Africa to make further efforts to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He has commended African leaders for their endeavour to improve conditions for African people.

He also called on them to strengthen efforts towards achieving the MDGs.

During the summit, African leaders agreed to contribute US$50 million, nearly 10% of the total budget, required to fund the peacekeeping mission in Mali.

With regards to the conflict in the DRC, a Neutral International Force proposed by Africa's Great Lakes region to eliminate all rebel groups in the eastern DRC will work under the UN peace keeping force (MONUSCO) deployed in the vast central African country.

Ntumba Luaba, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), said member countries - including those belonging to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - agreed that the force will be integrated into MONUSCO, but operating separately.

However, discussions between the UN and some African states on the resolution of the DRC crisis hit a snag on Monday when member countries declined to sign a political and security framework proposed by the UN to resolve the conflict that has left hundreds of thousands of Congolese homeless.

The 50th anniversary of AU will be celebrated in Addis Ababa on May 25 under the same theme of this summit "Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance". - SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua

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