Chairperson Ping calls for Respect of the Constitution
The 15th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union opened on Sunday 28 June 2009 in Sirte, Libya, within the framework of the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, under the theme: ’’Invest in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security ’’.
Addressing the 15th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council during the official opening ceremony, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, took stock of the security and political situation of the continent. While referring to the situation in Madagascar, which was suspended from the activities of the AU, in conformity with Article 30 of the Constitutive Act of the continental organisation, he expressed his concerns about the resurgence of coups d’état and unconstitutional changes. He stated that the overall situation on the Continent remains alarming. Chairperson Ping referred to the assassination of the President of Guinea Bissau, Mr. Joao Bernardo Vieira, the 31st Head of State assassinated in Africa in less than 40 years after the independence of countries. With regard to Mauritania, the AUC Chairperson expressed satisfaction at the signing of the decree on 27 June 2009 for the formation of a Transitional Government which will lead the country to elections scheduled on 18 July.
Referring to the situation in Guinea, the Chairperson of the Commission pointed out that ‘the International Contact Group on Guinea expressed at its last meeting, held in Sirte, great concern about the uncertainties surrounding the conduct of the transition and the lack of progress in the implementation of the chronogramme accepted by the parties for the restoration of constitutional order and the organization of elections before the end of 2009.’’
Mr. Jean Ping further pointed out, that the 13th Session of the AU Assembly would be called upon to pronounce itself on the recommendations of the Executive Council on the transformation of the Commission into the Authority of the AU.
As regards the Strategic Plan of the Commission, which gives the orientations and principles governing the four year programming based on four pillars, Peace and Security; Development, Cooperation and Integration; Shared Values; and Strengthening of Institutions, Mr. Ping stated that, the Plan constituted decisive progress in the working method of the Commission and its capacity to mobilise the necessary means to pursue continental integration.
Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), recalled in his speech that the Executive Council has a crucial role to play for Africa to speak with one voice on global issues such as economic and financial crisis and the post-Kyoto negotiations on climate change, noting that political instability goes hand in hand with economic instability. He explained that in 2009, the economic growth rate which was at 6% could fall to 2%, and appealed for continued efforts to support achievements in the area of peace and security. Furthermore, he urged the Executive Council to send a clear message to the G20 that the promises made to Africa must be honoured.
With regard to the theme of the Assembly, Mr. Janneh called on Africa to speak with one voice in trade negotiations so as to better structure policies related to markets, land, development of intra-regional trade and the promotion of diversity of agricultural produce throughout the regions of the continent.
The Executive Council will discuss, among others, the different reports of conferences held at ministerial level, the Report of the Activities of the Commission, the Report of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), the Report on the Abuse of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction and the African Common Position on Climate Change. The Executive Council will also have to consider the recommendations on the transformation of the AU Commission into the AU Authority. Council had already met in an Extraordinary Session in April 2009 on this Decision adopted by the 12th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly held in Addis Ababa in February 2009.
AU Commissioner calls for an enhanced African integrated Market
Sirte, 29 June 2009 - “Let us make agriculture a viable investment option that will open more opportunities for enhanced investment and growth of African Agriculture”. Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union spoke, while addressing journalists at a press conference held at the margins of the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU in Sirte, Libya, under the theme: “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”.
On the issue of exportation and importation of commodities, the Commissioner stressed on the need for AU Member States to encourage the processing of agricultural products within Africa, so as to create employment and encourage integrated markets, given that integration is a top priory on the agenda of the African Union. “We have land, water and other resources, thus, we need to invest in agriculture for economic growth and food security”, she said.
Mrs. Tumusiime further explained that regional integration also offers Africa the opportunity to concentrate and capitalize on the areas and products where each region and/or country has a comparative advantage, and from which it can benefit from its competitive edge. “This has also got the potential to enable Africa to scale-up its infrastructural development, thereby improving the environment for trade”, she noted.
The Commissioner said that, notwithstanding the competing national priorities, governments should invest more in agriculture as it has a positive multiplier effect on other sectors. She further underscored the need for African governments to convert the continent’s annual food import bill of US$33 billion into investment in agriculture.
Other issues discussed during the press conference include: the theme of the 13th AU Summit, “Investing in agriculture for economic growth and food security”; the impact of high food prices on food security in Africa; the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); Africa’s self-sufficiency; and land policy in Africa.
Commissioner Tumusiime underscored the necessity to work hand in hand with development partners at the national level, as well as with the civil society to enhance agriculture development in Africa. She linked food security to poverty eradication, saying that food security is not only production of food, but also the raising of household incomes and national revenue to be able to afford food and nutritional security.