In Summary
  • The Egyptian President will work with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa as the first vice-chairman and the DR Congo’ Felix Tshisekedi as the second vice-man.
  • President Kagame expressed confidence that his successor would take the AU to greater heights while Dr Mahamat said the Rwandan enhanced the AU’s progress towards autonomy and accountability.
  • President Sisi is expected to focus more on security, peacekeeping and post-war reconstruction, issues closely tied to the AU's 2019 theme.
  • Like other regional heavyweights Nigeria and South Africa, Egypt is not keen on a powerful AU, an African diplomat told AFP.

ADDIS ABABA,

Rwandan President Paul Kagame Sunday handed over the African Union chairmanship to his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The ceremony was the climax of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) heads of State and government summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Egyptian President will work with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa as the first vice-chairman and the DR Congo’ Felix Tshisekedi as the second vice-man.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou will also be in the executive, representing West Africa, while East Africa will be represented by President Kagame.

For the Congolese leader, the AU post could not have come at a more appropriate time; he was making his debut at the continental summit just weeks after being installed following a highly disputed election.

The theme for this year’s summit was "Refugees, Returnees and the Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa".

CONFIDENCE

President Kagame expressed confidence that his successor would take the AU to greater heights.

Earlier, AU Commission Chairman, Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamat, commended President Kagame’s stewardship of the AU, saying the continent learnt a lot during his tenure.

Dr Mahamat said the Rwandan enhanced the AU’s progress towards autonomy and accountability.

The meeting was also addressed by the UN Secretary-General Antonnio Guterress, who noted that though Africa had opened its doors to everyone in need, the same had not been reciprocated by the rest of the world, particularly the more affluent West.

“Africa’s generosity to those in need is unmatched,’’ said the UN chief.

FREE TRADE

While multiple crises on the continent will be on the agenda of heads of State from the 55 member nations, the summit will also focus on institutional reforms, and the establishment of a continent-wide free trade zone.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) was agreed by 44 nations in March 2018, but only 19 countries have ratified the agreement, with 22 needed for it to come into effect.

The single market is a flagship of the AU's "Agenda 2063" programme, conceived as a strategic framework for socioeconomic transformation.

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