South Africa’s president set to take over rotating AU chair in January

Anc President Cyril Ramaphosa Sworn In As Head Of State In The Republic Of South Africa May

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to take over the rotating African Union (AU) chairmanship in January 2020 amid focus on resolving continuing conflicts in Africa and sustaining the momentum in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

This came after the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat concluded a two-day working visit to South Africa accompanied by senior AU Commission officials, where the chairperson of the 55-member pan African bloc and his team held discussions with Ramaphosa and other senior South African officials, the AU Commission disclosed in a statement issued late on Saturday.

“The two leaders and their teams held discussions to discuss the strategic priorities of South Africa ahead of the country’s assumption as Chair of the African Union in 2020,” an AU statement read.

“President Ramaphosa emphasized his commitment to deepen engagement regarding unresolved conflicts on the African Continent, including Libya, as part of South Africa’s desire to accelerate action to Silence the Guns by 2020,” the statement read.

The South African president also reaffirmed South Africa’s support to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and “the critical role that infrastructure development should play in making the AfCFTA a reality,” it was noted.

Ramaphosa also commended the benchmarks already achieved in the AU institutional and financial reforms process currently underway, and resolved to ensure continued action to implement the reforms agenda.

The AU Commission Chairperson on his part stressed “the importance of the upcoming presidency of South Africa to head the Union in 2020.”

Mahamat also “reaffirmed the commitment of the Commission to support South Africa in preparing for this crucial role to push ahead with promoting the continental agenda.”

He also noted that the African continent “looked forward to benefitting from the leadership of President Ramaphosa and his background as a union leader, businessman, mediator and now leader of one of the most important countries on the Continent.”

Chairmanship of the AU, which is assumed by African leaders on a rotating basis for one-year tenure, is currently under the leadership of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who took over the chairmanship from the Rwanda President Paul Kagame, who served as the Chairperson of the AU from Jan. 2018 to Jan. 2019.

The Egyptian president took over the rotating AU chairmanship, which runs until Jan. 2020, at the opening of the 32nd AU summit of heads of state and government that was held at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Among the past AU chairpersons include Alpha Conde, President of Guinea from Jan. 2017 to Jan. 2018, Idriss Deby President of Chad from Jan. 2016 to Jan. 2017, Robert Mugabe the late Zimbabwean President from Jan. 2015 to Jan. 2016, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz former President of Mauritania from Jan. 2014 to Jan. 2015, and Hailemariam Desalegn former Prime Minister of Ethiopia from Jan. 2013 to Jan. 2014.

Silencing the Guns by 2020 and the continental free trade area are among the major flagship aspirations of the AU as stipulated under its 50-year continental development vision – Agenda 2063.

Executive Council of the AU, which brings together foreign ministers of all the 55 AU member countries, during its meeting in Niamey, capital of Niger in July 2019 had decided that the AU theme of the year for 2020 would be “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

African leaders had also during the Niamey summit officially launched the operational phase of the AfCFTA, which was launched on March 21, 2018 in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, and eventually came into force on May 30 this year after the deposit of the required threshold of 22 instruments of ratification by AU member states to the AU Commission. Enditem

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