A delegation led by the Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo, was present at the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) which was held from 18 to 19 February 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The AU Summit was attended by several Heads of State and Government, and dignitaries, including, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril M. Ramaphosa; the President of the Republic of Nigeria, Mr Muhammadu Buhari; the President of the Republic of Senegal, Mr Macky Sall; the President of the Republic of Rwanda, the President of the Republic of Angola, Mr Paul Kagame; the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Andry Nirina Rajoelina; the President of the Union of Comoros, Mr Azali Assoumani; the President of the Republic of Kenya, Mr William. S. Ruto; and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr António Guterres.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU Assembly) endorsed the AU theme of the Year 2023 – “Acceleration of African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation”, which coincides with the 60th commemoration of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity.
The implementation of the theme of the Year will be accompanied by a roadmap which will consist of the implementation of other flagship projects such as the African Commodities Strategy, the African Passport and Free Movement of People, the Single African Air Transport Market, and the Continental Financial Institutions.
Deliberations during the Assembly
The Assembly deliberated on the issue of peace and security in particular crisis, conflict, and post-conflict situations on the Continent as well as on positive outcomes such as the recent peace truce in Ethiopia.
Thematic issues also included good governance, climate change, financing, and the renewal of mandates of AU Peace Support Operation missions. The AU Assembly unanimously agreed on the need for continued African unity and solidarity in order to achieve lasting peace and security on the continent.
Moreover, the Assembly expressed its appreciation to the Republic of Kenya for coordinating the work of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change and congratulated the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting a successful Conference of the Parties (COP) and delivering critical decisions to advance climate action and implementation. It agreed on the development of a broad based and participatory process for the development of Africa’s common position on climate change and took note of the implementation of the AU Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032).
The Assembly also considered the progress made on the institutional reforms of the AU, a process led by the President of the Republic of Rwanda, which is crucial given the role the AU is expected to play in driving and achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063 vision of inclusive economic growth and development.
The Assembly was also briefed on the progress made by the Committee of ten Heads of State and Government on the reform of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. It was again highlighted that the historical injustice to the Continent must be addressed urgently by increasing Africa’s representation in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of the UN Security Council.
Furthermore, the Assembly considered the report on the Global Food Crisis, exacerbated by the Russia/Ukraine conflict and the need to address a sustainable solution for the continent.
The Union of Comoros was appointed as Chair of the Assembly of the Union for the year 2023, succeeding the Republic of Senegal. Furthermore, the Union of Comoros submitted its Instrument of Ratification to the African Union Commission, making it the 47th and latest Member State to ratify the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In his address, Minister Ganoo congratulated Mr Azali Assoumani for assuming the post of Chairperson of the AU and assured him of the full support of Mauritius during his tenure. Mauritius, as Dean of the East Africa Region, was instrumental in facilitating consultations between Kenya and Comoros and resolving the candidature issue for the Chairmanship of the AU.
He further conveyed the full support of Mauritius to the AfCFTA and called for the quick conclusion of all outstanding works for an effective implementation of the agreement. He also reiterated the commitment of Mauritius towards the AfCFTA. He recalled that Mauritius was among the first seven countries selected to trade under the Guided Trade Initiative, in a trial phase under the AfCFTA framework.
As regards the issue of Climate Change, Minister Ganoo highlighted the challenges that Africa and Small Island Developing States are facing and proposed that the draft resolution by Vanuatu at the UN General Assembly for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on climate change be considered and endorsed by the Union.
Bilateral meetings and discussions
Minister Ganoo had bilateral meetings with the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa; the Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Angola, Ambassador Téte António; the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Mr Tim Watts; and the Speaker of the Sahrawi Parliament, Mr Hamma Salama.
He also had discussions with several African and foreign dignitaries including, the President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union, Mr Azali Assoumani; the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Andry Nirina Rajoelina; the President of the Republic of Kenya, Dr William S. Ruto; the Vice President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Ahmed Afif; the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Naledi Pandor; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, Mr. Santiago Cafiero; and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat.