The Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) have elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix- Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, as the new Chairperson of the Union for the year 2021.
The event took place today, during the ongoing Thirty-Fourth (34th) Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, holding virtually under the theme: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.
The President of the DRC is taking over the baton of command from President of South Africa, Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, who has concluded today his term as the Chairperson of the AU for the year 2020.
Given the prevailing context of the COVID19 pandemic, the handing over ceremony between the incoming and outgoing Chairs of the AU was organized in a hybrid mode, both at the Conference Center of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the newly elected Chair of the Union, President Tshisekedi was taking part physically.
The handing over ceremony was attended by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), while the outgoing Chair Ramaphosa, was taking part virtually all the way from South Africa.
Other people in attendance during this highly symbolic moment were the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, the AU Commissioners and other high officials of the Union as well as the delegation from RDC.
In his handing over speech, President Ramaphosa wished the new AU Chairperson, a successful Chairmanship and thanked the Heads of States of AU Member States as well as the AU outgoing bureau, for their support during the tenure of his mandate which he said, was marked by the prevailing sanitary crisis caused by the COVID19 pandemic.
President Ramaphosa highlighted some of the achievements under his chairmanship of the Union notably, the efforts to reduce conflict in the continent under the theme of silencing the guns; the economic empowerment of the women and youths, the enhancement of democracy and good governance, among other development programs under Agenda 2063.
The outgoing Chair of the Union further underlined the initiatives undertaken under his leadership to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Tshisekedi on his part commended President Cyril Ramaphosa, who, in difficult conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was able to mobilize the efforts of all the countries of the continent and partners to face this challenging moment.
He also thanked President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime minister Abiy Ahmed for the warm welcome that the Ethiopian people have never ceased to give AU Member States “during our meetings at the headquarters of the organization.”
Highlighting the theme of the year 2021, the new AU Chairperson Tshisekedi said, Arts, Culture and Heritage constitute the foundation of the African renaissance and offers the opportunity for Africans to return to our roots.
Heads of State and Government of the AU in their two days summit will discuss on various continental and regional issues including ways to curb the impact of COVID-19 on the economic and social development of Africa.
They also exchange views on the current implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).