The African Union (AU) on Sunday kicked off its 25th summit in Johannesburg, amid high expectations for solutions to resolve a series of challenges.
Heads of State and Government from 54 AU members have their hands full of problems to address — ranging from peace and security to economic development and regional integration.
Speaking in his opening address, South African President Jacob Zuma said Africa has taken its destiny particularly in social development and economic growth.
Africa has embarked on a new path of growth and development, Zuma said.
However, expectations from African people “are high and we can not failed” in efforts to achieve the AU Agenda 2063.
Zuma urged African countries to continue to address conflicts in the continent and take decisive actions to tackle new challenges such as terrorism.
High on the agenda at the summit will be the AU Commission’s Agenda 2063, the political crisis in Burundi, proposals for the continental free trade area and mechanisms to find new sources of funding for the AU operations.
The summit is taking place under the theme “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
Leaders attending Sunday’s meeting include Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegations over anti-humanity crimes.
The ICC has urged South Africa to arrest al-Bashir when he arrived in the country for the summit.
The ICC has two outstanding warrants against al-Bashir.
South Africa, a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, has said previously that al-Bashir would be arrested if he arrived in South Africa.
But an unidentified government source said it would be ridiculous to arrest al-Bashir who was invited by the SA and AU to attend the AU Summit.
The SA government has kept silent over the ICC request. Calls to several departments for comments went unanswered.
The ICC called on South Africa to respect its obligations to the Rome Statute of the ICC to arrest al-Bashir.
Also on Sunday, the High Court in Pretoria issued an order preventing al-Bashir from leaving South Africa.
Judge Hans Fabricius said al-Bashir should not leave the country until an urgent application to have him arrested has been heard.
The Southern African Litigation Centre filed the urgent application to the court earlier in the day, requesting a court order to have al-Bashir arrested. Enditem