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11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly

Statement of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union

November 17, 2018

Excellency Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and Current Chairman of the African Union,
Right Honourable Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
Excellencies Heads of State and Government and Heads of Delegation,
Chief Executives of the Regional Economic Communities,
Dear Colleagues of the Commission,

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Extraordinary Summit is indeed symbolic. This is the first time, in the long history of our Continental Organisation and the attempts at reform that have marked it, that a session is devoted exclusively to this issue.

The decision adopted last July, in Nouakchott, to convene this Summit is an expression of an even more acute awareness of the need for Africa to better adjust itself to the issues of the day at stake, internal to the Continent or related to the global environment.

Consequently, I would like to pay tribute to our Heads of State and Government for their commitment to this process. President Paul Kagame deserves all our gratitude for the sense of duty with which he carries out the mandate entrusted to him by his colleagues.

May I also welcome our host, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to the Headquarters of our Union. I thank him for the hospitality accorded to all the participants in this Summit and salute the proactiveness that characterises his leadership, precisely in matters of reform.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
By meeting in this hall, named after an African icon, Nelson Mandela, we can congratulate ourselves on the progress made thus far. Without being exhaustive, I wish to mention the rationalisation of our working methods, the enhancement of coordination with the Regional Economic Communities, the better consideration of the gender and youth dimensions in the functioning of our Union and the steps taken on the path to financial autonomy.

It is certainly on this last point that our progress is most significant. It has been translated into an improved budgetary process, through the involvement of the Ministers of Finance, members of F15, a reduction in our dependence on international partners and a substantial increase in the contribution of the Member States to the Peace Fund.

In this regard, I am pleased to inform the Assembly of the convening of the inaugural meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund, yesterday, at our Headquarters. Composed of personalities with remarkable career paths and representing the five Regions of our Continent, this Board is mandated to oversee the operations of the Fund.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In spite the achievement thus made, many of the projects initiated within the purview of the reform remain to be concluded. This is precisely the reason for convening this Summit.
The Permanent Representatives Committee and the Executive Council, which considered various aspects of the reform, have submitted a number of recommendations to your attention. I commend the seriousness and quality of the deliberations of these two organs.

In considering the recommendations made, it is desirable that your august body take into account the need for the African Union Commission to have a greater degree of flexibility in administrative management, to enable it respond, more expeditiously and effectively to the operational challenges related to the implementation of its responsibilities in the service of Member States. The counterpart to this increased room for action must, of course, be greater accountability to the Member States and absolute transparency in the conduct of the affairs of our Union.

It is equally important that the Summit consolidate the progress made at the level of the finance. The recommendations of the Executive Council on the strengthening of sanctions against States that are not up to date with their contributions to the budget of the Union open the way to more determined action in this area. In the same spirit, it is imperative that the process initiated for the determination of the new Scale of Assessment be finalised by February 2019, as proposed by the Executive Council.

Finally, this Summit affords us an opportunity to exchange views on other aspects of the reform, especially the enhancement of the effectiveness of the organs of our Union. The objective is to obtain your guidance to help the Reform Unit deepen the reflection, before submitting concrete proposals next February.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Institutional reform is an imperative need. It is, in fact, inseparable from the Founding Act of our Union.

It should be recalled that the African Union was established to accelerate the project of economic integration and political unity that is at the heart of PanAfricanism. While respecting the sovereignty of our States, it is based on the premise that, in the world of today, these hard-won sovereignties can only be preserved if they are pooled.

The nature of our Union and the ambition of which Agenda 2063 is the emblem, therefore, demand that our Union constantly reinvents itself to adapt to its environment and stay its course.

This is the objective to which the various components of the reform contribute, namely:
- the search for greater efficiency in our functioning;
- the quest for financial autonomy, to pave the way for Continental renewal and full mastery of our destiny;
- the establishment of a more symbiotic relationship with African citizens, whose daily lives we must improve; and
- the imperative need to speak with one voice in the international arena.

Beyond the efforts on structures and procedures, reform is also, and above all, a matter of political will.

Indeed, the most fundamental aspect, the one that will change everything for the better, is the strength of the link that we establish between words and action, the diligence with which we implement the decisions adopted and the determination that drives us in the pursuit of the objectives laid down.

It is with such a frame of mind that we can translate the aspirations of Agenda 2063 into reality, whether it is to speed up integration, particularly through the African Continental Free Trade Area, to silence the guns by 2020 or to assert our collective power on the international scene.

One of the agenda items of the Summit is precisely our relationship with the European Union in view of the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020.

The spirit of the reform and its demands for efficiency compel us to speak with one voice on this issue, bearing in mind that any agreement with the European Union must fall within the framework of the Joint Africa-Europe Strategy, adopted in Lisbon, in 2007 and the Declaration of the Abidjan Summit of last December. The Strategy and Declaration are the foundation for a Continent-to-Continent relationship, which serves as a lever for our objective of integration and strengthens our achievements.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In launching the reform, you have raised immense hope in Africa and beyond. The steps already taken confirm our belief that we are on the road to success.

Today, the circumstances call us to mobilise our energies even more and to find, in us, the necessary strength to reach the desired destination.

I thank you for your attention.

AUC Chairperson Tags: 
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