AU chairperson speaks against racism, intolerance amid outrage over Floyd’s death

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the opening of the 33rd African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020. (Photo by Michael Tewelde/Xinhua)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the African Union (AU) chairperson, on Wednesday called on countries in the world to shun racism and intolerance.

Ramaphosa made the remarks when taking part in a virtual conference of the 1st Extraordinary Inter-Sessional Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

He said the pandemic is a global public health emergency and it needs a global response. “We therefore need to promote multilateralism as the most effective instrument to ensure that all countries, big and small, rich and poor, are accommodated and their voices heard,” he said.

Ramaphosa reaffirmed full support for the initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) together with many governments, non-profit organizations and industry leaders to speed up the development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that they are distributed speedily and equitably across the globe.

The WHO has been instrumental in supporting national efforts to combat COVID-19, Ramaphosa said. “Global solidarity demands that we also stand as one against all forms of racism and intolerance” while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramaphosa added.

He said the AU has strongly condemned the murder of George Floyd in the United States and shares the anger of millions in the U.S. and across the world.

Outrage over the death of unarmed African American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis has been growing across the United States, and now, beyond.

Floyd, 46, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes until he stopped breathing. “As countries that have borne the brunt of racial discrimination over centuries, we need to work together to end the scourge of racial violence, wherever it occurs.

By working together, we can build a peaceful, just, healthy and prosperous global community,” said the AU chairperson.

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