The 18th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) have ended in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa with the adoption of 25 Decisions, one Resolution and two Declarations.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Session held under the theme “Boosting Intra-African Trade”, took place at the new AU Conference Center dedicated on Saturday, January 28th, 2012. The 18th Ordinary Session ran from January 29th – 30th, 2012 with Liberia’s President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in attendance.
Amongst the decisions is the suspension of the elections of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission along with that of the eight Commissioners. The decision was made after a long debate which saw none of the candidates for the chairmanship obtain the two-thirds vote as stipulated in the AU Constitution.
The summit resolved that an ad-hoc committee of Heads of State and Governments composed of one Member State per region together with the Republic of Benin as Chairperson of the Union and the Republics of Gabon and South Africa is mandated to look into the election matter ahead of the next AU summit scheduled for June 2012. The ad-hoc committee is expected to meet in March 2012. As such the Assembly extended the present mandate of the current Members of the Commission until the next AU Summit.
Also adopted is the decision on the election of ten members of the AU Peace and Security Council for a two-year term beginning March 2012. Those elected include Cameroon and DR Congo from the Central Region; Djibouti and Tanzania from the Eastern Region; Egypt from the Northern Region; Angola and Lesotho from the Southern Region and Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia and Guinea from the Western Region.
Other decisions adopted by the Session include the Establishment of the Pan African University, Decision on African Integration, Decision on the Global African Diaspora Summit, Decision on Boosting African Integration, Decision on Boosting Intra-African Trade and Fast Tracking the Continental Free Trade Area and the Decision on the Situation in Palestine and the Middle East.
Others are the Decision on the Progress Report of the Commission on the Implementation of the Assembly Decisions on the International Criminal Court, Decision on “Integration as a Factor for African
Renaissance”, Decision on the Establishment of an African Institute of International Law in Arusha, Tanzania, Decision on the 10th Report of the Committee of Ten on the United Nations Security Council Reform, as well as the Decision on the Contributions of Member States to the Budget of the AU, amongst others.
During the closing ceremony, the President of the Republic of Tunisia, Dr. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki presented the vote of thanks to the Assembly, calling on the need for peace and unity on the continent. To the Chinese Government he extended his gratitude for offering the AU a magnificent conference center which will enable the African Heads of State and Governments to meet and discuss issues of interest to the continent.
For his part, the new Chairperson of the AU, President Yayi Boni of Benin thanked the Heads of State and Government for the honor bestowed on him by conferring the responsibility of guiding the AU during the next 12 months.
He congratulated them for the contributions made during the Assembly in ensuring that they considered the different items on the Summit’s agenda dealing with peace, security and stability that will lead the continent towards prosperity and development.
The new Chairperson noted that the discussions enabled them to consider the progress made as well as focus on the challenges faced in pursuing sustainable development on the continent. President Boni said that despite the brotherhood and solidarity that characterized the deliberations, he regretted that they were not able to proceed with the election of members of the Commission; but was of the conviction that the ad-hoc committee would conclude on the matter before the next AU Summit.
Meanwhile, the Assembly named Lilongwe, Malawi as the venue for the 19th Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government scheduled for June 2011.
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