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Report from African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

By Jehron Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Mar 2, 2017 - 12:03:06 PM

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African Leaders attend AU Summit 2017. Photos: United Nations

Chadian foreign affairs minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was elected new chairperson of the African Union Commission. The election was held in the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After seven rounds of voting that included favorites, Amina Mohamed of Kenya and Senegal’s Abdoulaye Battily, the 56-year-old father of five succeeds South Africa’s Nkosazan Dlamini-Zuma, reported Al Jazeera, the first women to lead the pan-African organization. She did not seek a second term.

Morocco rejoins African Union

Morocco at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa rejoined the organization after leaving in 1984, agreeing to return without conditions despite the fact that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which claims sovereignty over Western Sahara, holds a seat in the Pan-African organization. Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and claims it is an integral part of the kingdom.

During a speech at the AU Summit, that included his take on intro-regional trade, Moroccan King Mohammed VI expressed thanks for re-admittance into the AU, which was formerly the Organization of African Union. “Today, we regret to see that the Maghreb Union is the least integrated region in the African continent, if not in the whole world. Intraregional trade has reached 10 percent between ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) countries and 19 percent between SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries , while it is still stagnating at less than 3 percent between Maghreb countries.”

New United Nations Secretary General: Africa hold lessons, potential for world

UN Secretary-Gen. Antonio Guterres
After completing his first major mission as United Nations Secretary-General by attending the 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, recently installed Antonio Guterres said he saw a continent of hope, promise and vast potential.

“I am committed to building on those strengths and establishing a higher platform of cooperation between the United Nations and the leaders and people of Africa,” he wrote in the Daily Nation. “This is essential to advancing inclusive and sustainable development and deepening cooperation for peace and security.”

Preaching “solidarity,” the new Secretary-General said he was “convinced that the world has much to gain from African wisdom, ideas and solutions.”

He also showed a deep respect and appreciation for the recent resolution of the political crises in The Gambia after President Yahya Jammeh initially refused to step down and honor the election of Adama Barrow.

“Once again (Africa) demonstrated the power of African leadership and unity to overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” sad Mr. Guterres.

Giving much praise to African countries for their willingness to take on a growing refugee crisis, he highlighted the fact that “African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees.”

In fact, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the continent of Africa might be playing host to the largest portion of the world refugees. Ethiopia, home of AU headquarters, alone hosts nearly 740,000 refugees. The world’s largest refugee camp, housing half a million people, is in the east African country of Kenya.

“I left the summit,” the Secretary- General said, “more convinced than ever that all of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa.”

Trump’s “America first” strikes fear in those hopeful of U.S. initiatives in Africa

Chester Crocker, a former U. S. assistant secretary of state for Africa in the Reagan administration, expressed concern about President Trumps “America first” pledge, reported the Financial Times. The question revolved around the viability of three bipartisan programs backed by successive U. S. presidents.

The three programs include the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) created during the former President Bill Clinton’s term in office. It “provides non-reciprocal tariff-free access for African goods from countries deemed to be improving the rule of law and human rights.” Mr. Crocker believes it might be in jeopardy “given that it allows African countries to access U. S. markets without America receiving anything obvious in return.”

There is also fear that “any move to refocus resources on Americans could threaten the anti- AIDS program.” This program, introduced during the George W. Bush administration, is known as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It has allocated billions of dollars “for testing and treatment and is considered the biggest-ever health program mounted against a single disease.” The third program is President Barack Obama’s $7 billion Power Africa fund. It was launched in 2013 with the aim “of doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.” When it was announced, Mr. Trump condemned it, tweeting: “Every penny of the $7b going to Africa as per Obama will be stolen— corruption is rampant!”

According to Mr. Crocker, the program’s future could be jeopardized unless Mr. Trump can be persuaded that it means contracts for U.S. engineering and power companies.