22 February 2018

Rwanda: President Lungu Backs AU Reforms, Calls for 'Urgent' Implementation

Photo: New Times
President Paul Kagame and Edgar Lungu.

Visiting Zambian President Edgar Lungu has expressed support toward African Union reforms spearheaded by President Paul Kagame.

He was speaking at a State banquet hosted in his honor at the Kigali Convention Center, Wednesday evening.

The African Union reforms were adopted in January 2017.

The reforms adopted sought to ensure that the African Union focus on key priorities with continental scope and empower Regional Economic Communities to take lead on regional issues.

The reforms also aim at realigning the AU institutions to deliver on its key priorities as well as connect the union more to its citizens for them to have a stake in its work.

"There is need for the African Union to work collaboratively and mostly so take heed of the reforms proposed by Kagame as they will go a long way in delivering Africa to the desired transformation", President Lungu said.

Lungu urged continental leaders to work together towards giving Africa what he described as the long awaited.

Lungu arrived in Rwanda on Wednesday morning for a two-day state visit.

"At global level the African continent and its people continue to receive negative perception; this calls for an urgent need for all Africans to unite and address the challenges that we face as a people. It's upon us Africans to rise to confront the challenges that face us as Africans," Lungu said.

"I am very confident that you (Kagame) will change the agenda of the African Union," he added.

This is President Lungu's second visit to Rwanda in the span of seven month. He was last in Kigali last August, where he attended President Kagame's inauguration ceremony.

According to Lungu, his trips to Kigali have offered him an opportunity to realise what he said was "remarkable progress" of Rwanda and Rwandans, a success story fellow Africans are proud to relate too.

Lungu is accompanied by a delegation of government officials and business leaders.

Kagame, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union noted that there is indeed a need for African leaders to build a stronger and efficient union able to deliver quality services.

"We are also united by our commitment to building a stronger, and more efficient African Union, able to deliver quality services to the citizens of this continent. This is a continuation of Africa's liberation, and all of us are stakeholders, in working towards this goal," he said.

Kagame also observed that Rwanda and Zambia share similar aspirations, "of prosperity and dignity for our people, and a common vision for our continent."

Rwanda and Zambia are linked by membership in regional organisations such as COMESA and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

Kagame believes these are key for the realisation of common objectives, foster regional trade, plus peace and security.

"Rwandans and Zambians are more connected than ever before. Our national carrier, RwandAir, has regular flights to Lusaka. We can take advantage of this opportunity, to increase visits and do more business," he added.

Lungu's visit follows a two-day visit to Zambia by President Kagame in June last year.

Kagame's visit to Lusaka has since opened room for "even more collaboration both in quality and in quantity," according to Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.

On the first day of his visit, President Lungu visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to pay tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, before visiting the Kigali Special Economic Zone.

The Zambian leader will conclude his State visit after addressing a joint press conference with President Kagame on Thursday.

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