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AU reforms to take centre stage at Heads of State summit

Storyline:National News, World

Heads of State and Government of African Union Member States will this weekend meet in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in a meeting that will exclusively discuss how the Pan-African body can be reformed to deliver better for Africans.

The summit, slated for November 17 and 18, will be chaired by President Paul Kagame in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union.

According to Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, these reforms touch all the AU’s organs.

“The ongoing institutional reform is, undoubtedly, one of the most ambitious initiatives for change ever taken by our Union. It touches upon all aspects of its functioning and concerns all its organs. Other attempts were made in the past. These, let’s face it, did not live up to expectations, leaving a bitter taste of unfinished business,” said Mahamat.

He was speaking Wednesday at the opening session of the Executive Council that brings together Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the AU partner states, whose recommendations are to be endorsed by Heads of State when they meet in two days’ time.

The council meeting, which is also being held in Addis, is chaired by Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Richard Sezibera, a role he assumed for the first time since his appointment to cabinet last month.

“By taking the leadership of the reform process, our leaders clearly indicated their determination to follow up all aspects and ensure its successful conclusion. They put their credibility in the balance,” Mahamat added.

The reforms, whose implementation was assigned to President Kagame by his continental peers last year, have an ultimate aim of weaning Africa off dependence on external aid by making it economically independent.

After he was appointed to champion the reform process in 2016, Kagame selected a team of nine eminent Africans to help him come up with the required reforms.

Almost all the members of the team have worked in the economic and policy fields. They worked with President Kagame who in July last year, presented the proposed reforms to the Summit.

The Summit unanimously endorsed the proposed reforms and assigned him to continue with the work and champion the implementation phase.

The Addis meeting will, according to a statement, consider proposals on the reform of the structure and portfolio of the senior leadership of the AU Commission, selection of the senior leadership of the Commission, administrative and financial reforms, and the mandate of the AU Development Agency (AUDA) in line with Assembly decisions.

Addressing the Council, Minister Sezibera reported that the ongoing Institutional Reform has already registered progress in a number of areas, commending the Commission under Mahamat for its dedication to seeing the reforms come to fruition.

“I wish to thank the Member States, for your support in ensuring that we are determinedly moving ahead. Without it, the reforms would not have reached the point at which they are today. We may have lengthy discussions at times, but they clearly remain healthy ones, aiming to achieve our objectives,” said Sezibera.

To ensure financial sustainability of the Commission’s activities, the reform, among others, includes the introduction of a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports in all partner states.

Already, a number of partner states have committed to the levy while efforts are still ongoing to bring all members on board.

SOURCES: The News-Times