Ethiopia: African Ambassadors meet ahead of AU Summit
African Ambassadors accredited to the African Union (AU) Monday kicked-started a preparatory meeting ahead of this month’s AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, outlining priorities that include building on strategic partnerships to advance continental trade in the wake of the global economic slowdown. The Ambassadors, who constitute the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), also plan to find a way to intensify intra-African trade, the subject which dominated most of the debate in 2012, and to review the continental security in the wake of the fresh conflicts in several member states.
“By presenting a grim picture of the continental security, we mean to show the negative consequences they have had on the economic growth of Africa,” said PRC Chairman Ferdinand Montcho of Benin.
Montcho said dealing with the massive human rights violations taking place as a result of the conflicts and reviewing the security situation would constitute the key outcomes of a successful AU Summit.
AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma played down the security situation, insisting that a majority of the countries enjoyed relative peace and that progress was made in dealing with the crises in Madagascar, Somalia as well as Sudan and South Sudan.
“We are registering steady progress in the management of these conflict situations,” she said in her first address to the PRC since taking over as AUC Chairperson three months ago.
She expressed regret at the re-emergence of conflict in Eastern DR Congo, Mali, Guinea Bissau and the Central African Republic (CAR).
“We must continue to join forces towards achieving sustainable peace in Africa, without the assistance of the international community,” Dlamini-Zuma pleaded.
Apart from the security issues on the agenda, the Ambassadors are discussing a plan for the integration of the continent’s 54 states through what they call a “minimum integration plan.”
They are also debating a plan to give the PRC more powers to handle conflict situations, under the review of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) to give the membership enhanced chances of participating in the decision-making process.
Montcho said the proposal would help accelerate the search for solutions to Africa’s conflicts.
The other key issue on the agenda is the review of the procedures for electing the members of the AUC, following the acrimony witnessed during the last electioneering process that saw the emergence of Dlamini-Zuma.