Kikwete takes over AU Chair
Michael Appel (BuaNews) - Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete was on Thursday elected to take over as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) for 2008 replacing Ghanaian President John Kufuor.
Mr Kikwete has taken over the reins from Mr Kufuor at a very crucial time as a number of crisis situations persist in a number of African states including Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Chad and to some degree the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The newly elected chair who will have his hands full - in thanking his peers for his election - promised to ensure that he would do everything within his mandate to work towards peace and stability on the continent.
Meanwhile, in his opening speech, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Professor Alpha Oumar Konare, addressed a number of issues which he described as crucial for the development of the continent.
Prof Konare highlighted the greater involvement of youths in the continent; increasing regional partnership and integration, and most importantly stressed the principle of non-indifference towards peace and security on the continent.
The Chairperson of the Commission said regrettably that many of the exiting conflicts on the continent were as a result of poor governance, and appealed to African states to "respect the rules and principles of democracy".
The outgoing AU chair Mr Kufuor in his opening address said serious attention needs to paid to the industrialisation of Africa.
He called on the Assembly to "engage in passionate debate so as to give the necessary guidance and direction to the Union and its organs."
Also speaking during the opening ceremony was United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who expressed his will to improve and streamline the relationship between the UN and the AU.
Speaking at media briefing recently, South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Chief Director for UN Political Affairs Xolisa Mabhongo said: "We [as South Africa] will be looking into what we can do to enhance the relationship between the UN and other regional organisations, in particular the African Union (AU)."
Mr Mabhongo said South Africa will be using its last term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to further the African agenda.
The chief director highlighted that South Africa called on the UN Secretary General to produce a report that would come up with concrete proposals on how the relationship between the UN and the AU could be enhanced.
The report, he said, is currently being finalised and it will be a great opportunity in its second presidency in April to get the Secretary General to consider some of those recommendations.
"We hope that this report is going to help us to articulate some of these recommendations and therefore we can ask for action on these ideas," said Mr Mabhongo.