20th AU Heads of State and Governments Summit

The 20th AU summit which is taking place from the 21st of January is being held under the theme of ‘Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.’ In his exclusive coverage for Addis Standard Tesfalem Waldyes has captured momentous pictures of participants of the ongoing summit.

Shall we dance?

The outgoing AU chairperson President Boni Yayi of Benin and His Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame met after an exhausting afternoon summit of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) on Saturday Jan. 26th and paused for a sideline talk that was also a little more intimate. The next morning President Yayi admitted at the opening of the heads of state summit that the French intervention in Mali was a necessary step, a step that African should have taken earlier. “I thank the French government”, he said.

Happy to hand it over to you, Your Excellency!

After serving the AU as its chairperson for the last one year, during which President Boni Yayi of Benin said he spent six months shuttling between countries to mend the rift created upon the failed election in Jan 2012 of the current Chairperson of the AUC, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. President Yayi has handed over the chairperson position to PM Hailemariam of Ethiopia.

 Too close a worry to home?

With the security situation in Mali fast becoming a headache both to Africa and the rest of the world, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria worrisomely contemplates over a document at hand. Security analysts link the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups in Northern Mali with those of the Boko Haram in Nigeria. Last week the French Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning against French nationals traveling to and from Nigeria of possible terrorist attacks in retaliation to France’s military intervention in Mali.

Sell the president’s jet

President Joyce Banda of Malawi caused an uproar amongst many of her counterparts in Africa when in June 2012 she refused to Host ICC indicted President of Sudan Omar al Bashir saying if he touches down at her country, she has a responsibility to hand him over to the ICC. Now her government has invited bids to auction a14-seat presidential jet as the country is embarked on a series s of cost-cutting measures.

Ballot no more it is

President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya may have caused a bit of a chortle amongst many of his counterparts when, during AU 20th heads of state summit on Sunday Jan. 27th, he declared that for the first time in 50 years, his name will not be in the ballot box during Kenya’s upcoming election scheduled to take place on 4 March 2013.

In the gentlemen’s club

The first female chairperson of the AUC, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, didn’t have an easy entry into the Commission when a year ago her first attempt for the position failed to produce a clear winner between the incumbent Jean Ping and herself. After a wait of six months that was marked by endless diplomatic shuttles and negotiations between members states and the different RECs, a re-run in July 2012 clearly favored Madam Zuma, the ex-wife of the current South African President Jacob Zuma. This is her first heads of state summit since she took over office in Oct. 2012.

All eyes on him

Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, may have enjoyed being the center of attention during the summit as the security in Mail dominated all the agenda for the summit including the summit’s theme “Pan-Africansim and African Renaissance.” At a donor’s meeting chaired by PM Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, countries have pledged more than $455 million to support Mali's battle against Islamist militants. The EU and the US have pledged to provide 50 million euro and 96 million USD respectively for AFISMA, the soon to be formed African peace keeping mission in Mali. President Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast estimated the cost of the peace keeping mission to be 950 million USD. For the first time in its history, the AU also pledged to give 50 million USD to the mission in Mali.

Tired of each other?

During group photographs of the heads of state and governments soon after the summit on Sunday Jan. 27th, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Yuweri Museveni of Uganda were seen looking at different directions although the two, Africa’s long standing presidents, were standing next to each other. In mid January, President Robert Mugabe caused a giggle amongst his peers when he proposed the upcoming summit to discuss electing a ‘President of Africa’

Do I know you?

President Salva Kirr of Africa’s newly formed nation South Sudan, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania paused for a sideline talk during which President Mugabe more than once looked at President Kirr as if the two have just met. Next to the security issues of Mali, the 20th AU head of states and governments summit was also busy discussing the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan. UN’s chief Ban ki Moon said after meeting the leaders of both Sudan and South Sudan, he has advised both to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner as soon as possible and also deal with pressing humanitarian situations in both countries.


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