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AU summit

Feb 1, 2010, 2:09 PM

The 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union yesterday kicked-off in Addis Ababa, on the theme "Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Prospects and Challenges for Development."

The meeting started with a call by the outgoing AU Chairperson Brother Leader Muammar El Gaddafi, leader of the Libyan Revolution, Great Socialist People's Libyan Jamahiriya and Chairperson of the African Union, for a minute silence in memory of the victims of the Ethiopian airlines plane that crashed off Beirut on 25 January.

The theme of the summit is relevant and timely, considering the prospects of Information Technology.

In his speech, the AU Commission Chair Jean Ping delved into the activities of the African Union Commission, namely peace and security, development, integration and cooperation, shared values and institution and capacity-building. He gave an overview of the successes, challenges and setbacks that characterised 2009.

The Chairperson noted that the situation on the continent was mixed. As he put it, there had been notable successes and challenges.

Among the successes in peace and security, Mr. Ping highlighted is the establishment of governments of national unity in Kenya and Zimbabwe during 2009.

He applauded the move to democratic rule in Guinea where elections are due to take place.

In Somalia, Mr. Ping noted a new dynamism towards peace.

He also expressed gratitude to Burundi and Uganda for their commitment to peace by sending troops to Somalia.

The Chairperson appealed to AU Member States to contribute further by sending troops to support the 5500 that are now in Somalia to protect its institutions, which have not existed for the past 20 years. He applauded the resumption of relations between Chad and Sudan. The Chairperson also recalled that 2010 was declared Year of Peace and Security in Africa.

Turning to the challenges, Mr. Ping expressed concern at the persistence of conflicts and return of coup d'etats, as they affect stability on the continent. In this respect, the AU has adopted a firm attitude against coup d'etats, he stated as a matter of principle. He called for vigilance in protecting and building peace in Africa. He also appealed for vigilance against human and drug trafficking, and organised crimes.

Under the pillar of shared values, the Chairperson observed that legislative elections in some countries are consistent with values that have been adopted by the African Union. He went further to report on the adoption of the African Convention for Assistance and Protection of Displaced Persons in December 2009, which will help protect displaced people. This is the first such instrument in the world.

We challenge the AU commission to redouble its efforts in tackling Africa's numerous problems.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon thanked Africa for its assistance to Haiti. The UNSG also announced the creation of the MDG advocacy group, comprising eminent persons from all walks of life, who will raise awareness and emphasise Africa's MDG priorities. He commended Africa for declaring the Year of Peace and Security in Africa and pledged UN's full support.

The Spanish President Mr. Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapattero commended the AU's search for peace, and its efforts to reduce conflict. He reiterated his country's firm commitment to peace and security, and to the fight against trafficking.

To Spain, we thank them for supporting Africa in the areas of education, health and agricultural development.

We encourage the African leaders to come out with tangible resolutions and strategies to move the continent's IT industry.

We also say kudos to the out going AU Chair Libyan Leader Muammar El Gaddafi for the efforts he made during his tenure of office and welcome the new Chair Malawi's Bingu Wa Mutharika to the new seat.

The seat is not for fun but challenging, thus the call for total commitment towards addressing the challenges facing the continent such as wars.