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18th AU summit concludes with package of agreements

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Laaska News Jan 31, 2012                    + Related Articles

18th AU SUMMIT 2012 – Photo RM

ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — The 18th African Union (AU) summit ended here Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital with adoption of a series of agreements concerning Africa’s economic, political and security issues.

Africa will speed up its infrastructure development and put related policies and laws in place to boost the integration process, according to the “Declaration on the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa.”

The declaration said the summit recognizes “the vital role of infrastructure and related services in the political and social-economic development, and physical integration of the continent,” especially given the population growth and economic demand.

Moreover, the member states of the organization should increase public financing of infrastructure, implement major power projects such as hydroelectricity, oil refinery and gas pipelines, accelerate the construction of missing links and modernization of railways, and increase the capacity of ports, the declaration said.

African countries should also develop new and renewable energy resources to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy as well as nuclear energy for peaceful use, it said.

The summit also recommended developing regional and continental broadband networks and submarine cables to promote Africa’s digital economy.

To achieve such targets, the summit appealed to international institutions such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank and the World Bank to support the implementation of those projects and plans.

The declaration said the infrastructure needs will reach about 60 billion U.S. dollars in the next 10 years.

At present, Africans have a low-level connectivity of infrastructure networks and poor access to energy and information services, the declaration said.

The summit also recognized the importance of intra-African trade, and the declaration said Africa will target the establishment of a continental free trade area by 2017.

“The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) should be operationalized by the indicative date of 2017, and enhanced intra-African trade and deepened market integration can contribute significantly to sustainable economic growth, employment generation, poverty reduction, inflow of foreign direct investment, industrial development and better integration of the continent into the global economy,” the declaration said.

The AU has made a three-step plan to prepare for the ultimate CFTA target.

The first step is to finalize the tripartite agreement among the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) by 2014.

The second is to urge other trade blocs to follow the experience of the tripartite agreement and reach a parallel agreement between 2012 and 2014.

The third is to consolidate the tripartite and other regional free trade areas into the CFTA initiative between 2015 and 2016.

On social matters, AU leaders agreed to launch the first ever Global African Diaspora Summit on May 25 in South Africa to help Africans across the world unite to revive the continent.

They requested the AU Commission consider and prepare a framework document on the representation of the African diaspora in AU structures and processes.

As to routine matters, the heads of state and government of the AU agreed to hold the 19th Ordinary Session in Lilongwe, Malawi in June 2012, and to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 2013.

The AU will mark the Golden Jubilee of the OAU, the predecessor of the AU, by highlighting the ideals of Pan-Africanism and Africa’s aspirations for peace, democracy, development and unity.

To celebrate the anniversary, activities including media events, debates and competitions in schools and universities, as well as public opinion surveys will be held in member states to heighten awareness of Pan-Africanism among young Africans.

Regarding the post of the African Union Commission’s (AUC) chairman, outgoing Jean Ping will maintain this post until the Malawi AU summit after the AUC election was postponed due to fierce competition.

The AUC members, including the chairperson, deputy chairperson and eight commissioners, will also maintain their positions until the Malawi summit.

The AU has appointed President of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni as the rotating president of the AU for one year on Sunday.

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Malawi to host 19th AU Summit in June 2012

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ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — The heads of state and government of the African Union (AU) on Tuesday agreed to hold the 19th Ordinary Session in Lilongwe, Malawi in June 2012.

The 19th summit will take place on June 23-30, 2012 in Lilongwe, Malawi, a move which was made at the conclusion of the 18th AU Summit here in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.

The heads also accepted the offer by Chad to host the 25th AU Summit in June and July 2015.

The AU Commission is yet to set the exact dates for the holding of the 25th summit in N’djamena, Chad after agreement with the Permanent Representatives’ Committee and the hosting country.

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AU to set up ad hoc committee to work out new election regulation 

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ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — The African Union (AU) will set up an ad hoc committee in March 2012 to work out a new regulation for the suspended election of AU Commission members, the organization said here on Tuesday.

At the press conference after the end of the 18th AU summit, AU’ s new chairman and Benin’s President Thomas Yayi Boni said that in order to work out a new regulation for the suspended election of AU Commission members, AU will set up an eight-member ad hoc committee in March 2012.

According to the existing rules about the AU Commission election, if no candidates won more than two thirds of the votes for four rounds, the election process would be suspended.

“I assure you that the election process goes in line with the regulation and because Mr. Jean Ping didn’ t win the two thirds of the votes, the election has to be suspended,” said the AU chairman.

The ad hoc committee comprises eight heads of state, among which five from Africa’ s five sub-regions, two from South Africa and Gabon, countries of origin of current two chairperson candidates Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma and Jean Ping, and one from Benin, which holds the rotating presidency of the AU.

When asked whether he will continue to run for the AU commission chairman, Jean Ping didn’ t make any comment during the press conference.

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Xinhua.
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