By Godfrey Olukya 28-1-2013
The newly elected AU chairman who is also the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn has hailed Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni for his peace efforts as the chairman of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in ensuring that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not escalate. He called for more assistance to the regional ICGLR initiative in order to address the complex security situation in the Democratic republic of Congo.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn was speaking during the ongoing AU summit under the theme ‘Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance’, that is also attended by President Yoweri Museveni and various other heads of state and governments.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, was elected Chairman of the AU for the next one year representing countries in the Eastern Africa Region. He replaced outgoing President Boni Yayi of Benin who was from West Africa.
In accordance with the rotational formula, the Republic of Mauritania took the post of the 1st Vice-Chairman of the AU representing Northern Africa; 2nd Vice-Chairman of the AU went to Mozambique while Chad was elected 3rd Vice-Chairman of the continental body representing West Africa. The post of Rapporteur of the AU went to Benin.
In his acceptance speech, the Ethiopian Prime Minister pledged unswerving commitment to serving the continental body.
‘As the AU marks its golden jubilee in May this year, we must pay tribute to the generations of Pan Africanists and founding fathers of the OAU who strived to promote unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among the peoples of Africa and African States,’ he said, stressing that Africa can only unleash its potential for development and prosperity of her people in the prevalence of durable peace and stability on the continent.
He said that while the continent in the last decade had made significant headways to find peaceful solutions to the different conflicts such as in Somalia, South Sudan and her northern neighbour the Republic of Sudan, there had emerged serious concerns of the emergence of new conflicts in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic where the situation had drastically worsened since last month.
Outgoing AU Chairman, Boni Yayi thanked France for taking the lead in Mali to wrest that country from the threat of terrorists, a task he said could have been undertaken by the African continent using the ECOWAS force to restore democracy there.
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya who announced that he was addressing the assembly for the last time as a sitting head of state, noted that Africa still faced challenges of peace and stability and he said that these must be addressed through the AU to ensure benefits for the people of Africa.
The newly elected President of Somalia Hassan Skeikh Mohamud thanked the African Union for the ardent support to his country to bring back peace and stability. “Thank you Africa. Somalia is now with you not as a liability but as a partner,” he said.
Others that addressed the summit included the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, who lauded Africa for its efforts in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic but decried the effects of the global climate change that have caused untold suffering to the continent. He also said the UN was would like to have a peace-keeping group with regard to the DRC conflict. He also addressed himself to the conflicts in Mali, the uneasy relationship between South Sudan and Sudan and Somalia. He also praised the efforts of the African continent in its resolve to fight corruption.
The 20th ordinary session of heads state and government of the member countries of the African Union (AU) started on January 26th in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and ends today against a back drop of concerns over the numerous conflicts on the continent such as the situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali in West Africa, the issues plaguing South Sudan and her northern neighbor the Republic of Sudan, among others.