Addis Ababa, 2nd February 2010 – The 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union officially ended today, Tuesday 2nd February 2010, under the Chairmanship of the new Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi.
The closing ceremony began with a word from H.E Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who was addressing the Assembly on behalf of the Caribbean. He said that there was a strategic necessity to have a deeper cooperation with the African Union Member States, given that his region has a large population of people of African descent. He appreciated the solidarity of the African people to the victims of the earthquake that occurred in Haiti. According to Prime Minister Gonsalves, the Caribbean has benefited from the rich culture of Africa. “We wish to reaffirm our love to Africa and our commitment to work together to build a better life for our populations”, he said.
Taking the floor, the President of the Republic of Gabon, H.E Ali Bongo Ondimba, thanked the Assembly and the AU Commission for the successful proceedings of the 14th AU Summit. He also thanked the Ethiopian Government for the warm hospitality. He expressed satisfaction over the fruitful deliberations of the Summit, hoping that its Decisions will be carefully implemented by the Member States. (See complete message of President Ali Bongo on the AU website: http://www.africa-union.org).
In his closing remarks, the Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Wa Mutharika, recalled the theme of the 14th AU Summit: “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development”, saying that ICTs should be taken very seriously in the development agenda of the Union. He emphasised on the slogan: “no child should die of hunger and malnutrition”. The Chairperson further outlined the following priority areas to be considered as an immediate plan of action for the next three months. These include: the putting in place of a food security program to alleviate poverty in the next five years; the need to develop transport and telecommunications, and connect countries through ICTs; and the development of energy; amongst others.
Meanwhile, President Wa Mutharika hailed the AU initiative for launching 2010 as the year of peace in Africa. He hoped that concrete steps would be taken to restore peace and stability in conflict areas in the near future. This, he said, needs the full support of the Regional Economic Communities. He requested the AU Commission to follow-up the different partnerships of the AU with the international community while ensuring that these partnerships are beneficial to the development of the continent. With regard to the launch of the African women’s fund, the Chairperson encouraged his peers to support the project saying that it is a practical step of addressing the needs of women while contributing to gender development on the continent. The new AU Chairperson finally thanked the Assembly for electing him to lead the organization, while promising them that he would work hard to mobilize funding for the implementation of the different projects of the Union, in a bid to “move the continent from poverty to prosperity and to position it as an effective player in the global arena. (See complete speech of Chairperson Bingu Wa Mutharika, on the AU website: http://www.africa-union.org).