The African Union (AU) has been challenged to put more effort in uniting the continent by ending conflicts. It has to continue its efforts towards sustainable development, peace and security.

These were some of the messages delivered during the opening session of the 28th African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Messages of support came from as far as the Middle East and America.

It was a befitting tribute for outgoing AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. She has been praised for being the first woman to lead the continental body and with success.

In her opening address, Dlamini Zuma called for leaders to work together in silencing the guns as stipulated in the continent’s developmental footprint, Agenda 2063.

“We must just continue the fight; terrorism remains a challenge, and we must continue to fight until we defeat this scourge. It is with much concern that we learn that sporadic fighting continues in South Sudan. The people of Sudan want peace. We again call on all parties to honour the agreement in order to promote, peace, healing and justice. Excellences it is very clear that globally we are entering very turbulent times. For an example, the very country to whom our own people were taken as slaves during the trans-Atlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries. What do we do about this; indeed this is one of the greatest tests to our unity and solidarity.”

The AU has thanked the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) group under the leadership of the Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson in resolving the Gambian conflict. The country almost plunged into civil conflict after then President Yahya Jamme refused to leave office despite losing power to Adama Barrow. Jammeh has since went into exile in Equatorial Guinea under diplomatic pressure and after troops from Ecowas crossed into Gambia.
“On behalf of all of us, a heartfelt gratitude to Ecowas who under your leadership made us all proud, as you stood with your colleagues in Ecowas, Mauritania and many others with the people of the Gambia and defended the values and principles of our union. We thank all those who participated and we are particularly proud that it was under your stewardship.”
This is a message echoed by the outgoing chair of the AU, Chad’s President Idriss Deby. He said conflicts across the world are triggered by resources which lead to violent extremism. The United Nations (UN) new Secretary General Antonio de Oliveira Guterres was also afforded an opportunity address African leaders under one roof, for the first time in his new capacity. He says the UN will work hand in hand with the AU where conflict threatens peace and stability. Guterres said the UN was proud to be Africa’s partner and has a lot to learn from Africa.
“We will be by your side to fight extremism. Africa needs international solidarity and Africa deserves international solidarity, look forward to how best we work together.”

One of the issues which was under discussion during the retreat of heads of state and government is the financing of the AU. South African President Jacob Zuma has given the discussions a thumbs up.
“I think it was a very important treat in a manner that it helped us to look at the organisation, turn it inside out and say what is best for the continent. Among other things we discussed is the question of how the AU must work on a system where it is going to be independent in terms financial dependency.”
Meanwhile, the incoming chair of the AU Guinea’s President Alpha C’onde has thanked member states for giving him a new responsibility in the AU and also called for unity. A message welcomed by other heads of state.
There were also messages of support from Cuba and Palestine. The two commended the AU’s efforts to stabilise the continent.

The AU also welcomed new heads of state who were elected during recent elections.

Click below for more on Chad’s foreign minister Moussa Faki who is the new AU chairperson:

– By Amos Phago