NewsAfricaAfrican Union: for the UN, the African continent "needs action for peace"

African Union: for the UN, the African continent “needs action for peace”

Security, conflicts, African continental free trade area… the topics of discussion are numerous at the 36th summit of the African Union, which opened on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. An incident broke out during this first day: the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from the assembly.

The African Union (AU) summit opened on Saturday, February 18, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At least 35 presidents from the African continent are present. One of the first topics discussed: security and peace.

During the assembly, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said that the continent “needs action for peace”, referring in particular to the situation in the Sahel and in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahead of the summit, exchanges took place the day before on the situation in the east of the DR Congo plagued by armed groups, in the presence in particular of the Congolese head of state, Félix Tshisekedi, and his Rwandan counterpart. , Paul Kagame. At the meeting, leaders of the East African Community (EAC), made up of seven countries, called for a “withdrawal of all armed groups” by March 30.

Regarding Ethiopia, the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, host of the summit, praised before the assembly the peace agreement signed, under the aegis of the AU, between his government and the rebels of the region of Tigré, who, according to him, made it possible to “silence the guns”.

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African Continental Free Trade Area

Another topic of discussion: the African Continental Free Trade Area (Zlec), which should bring together 1.4 billion people and become the world’s largest market in terms of population. The summit aims to encourage the “acceleration” of the Zlec, intended to promote trade within the continent and attract investors.

For now, intra-African trade represents only 15% of the continent’s total trade.

According to the World Bank, by 2035, the agreement would create 18 million additional jobs and “could help lift up to 50 million people out of extreme poverty”. Its combined GDP stands at $3.4 trillion, according to the UN. But differences remain on the continent, particularly on the timing of tariff reductions.

Antonio Guterres considered that the Zlec “represents a truly transformative path towards the creation of jobs and new sources of prosperity for Africans”. He also announced that the UN would release $250 million to “support some of the most vulnerable people” in the world, including those at risk of starvation in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa.

Cancellation of debt

In addition, Azali Assoumani, president of the Comoros, a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean of about 850,000 inhabitants, took over the rotating presidency of the AU, following Macky Sall, the Senegalese head of state. “Our organization has just proven to the world its conviction that all countries have the same rights”, welcomed the 64-year-old head of state, who pleaded for a “total cancellation” of the African debt.

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Finally, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, three countries ruled by soldiers who emerged from coups d’état, following which they were suspended from the AU, sent delegations to Addis Ababa to plead for the lifting of these suspensions.

On Friday, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU Commission, said that the institution’s “peace and security” council would meet, on an unspecified date, to decide on a possible lifting of the suspension of these three countries. Saturday, Moussa Faki Mahamat affirmed that “these sanctions do not seem to produce the expected results”.

Israeli diplomat expelled

An incident also broke out on the sidelines of this summit: the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from the assembly of the African Union. The Jewish state denounced this decision, accusing Iran of being behind this “serious” measure with the complicity of Algeria and South Africa, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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By 2022, the AU had failed to close its discussions on Israel’s controversial accreditation as an observer country. Algeria and South Africa in particular argued against. The AU has not indicated whether the issue will be discussed at the summit this year.

But, according to a video posted online, security personnel escorted Sharon Bar-li, Israel’s Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for Africa, out of the annual summit.

Ebba Kalondo, spokesman for the chairman of the AU Commission, told AFP that a person had been “asked to leave the premises” because he was not invited to this meeting. The AU had extended a one-time invitation to Israel’s ambassador to the AU, Aleli Admasu, and that invitation could not be used by anyone else, she said. “It is regrettable that the person in question abused this favour,” concluded Ebba Kalondo.

For a spokesperson for Israeli diplomacy, this expulsion remains “serious” because Sharon Bar-li had “valid accreditation as an observer”. “It is sad to see the African Union hostage to a small number of extremist states like Algeria and South Africa, motivated by hatred and controlled by Iran,” he said. at AFP.

Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, retorted that Israel should “substantiate its accusations”.

With AFP

Source: France 24


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