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South Africa to Chair African Union in 2020

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 11 February 2019 – Following the 32nd African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit which kicked off yesterday, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected as the 1st Vice Chairperson of the African Union Commission for 2019. It follows, then, that South Africa will assume the role of Chairperson for the 2020 year.

At the election for the Bureau of the Assembly for 2019, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi was elected as AU Chairperson for the current year.

Among the responsibilities of the Assembly are to determine the AU’s policies, establish its priorities, adopt its annual programme and monitor the implementation of its policies and decisions.

Commenting on the appointment of President Ramaphosa as Chairperson of the AU for the year 2020, Mmusi Maimane – Leader of the Democratic Alliance said that the DA welcomes the appointment.

“While only a one year term, this (appointment) provides South Africa with a leadership opportunity to actively promote democracy and build peace and stability on the continent. The AU has degenerated into a protectionist body of liberation movements that continues to turn a blind eye to gross human rights violations in Africa. It will be incumbent on President Ramaphosa to change this,” stated Maimane in a press release issued by the DA today.

“Nowhere is this leadership required more than in Zimbabwe. There is a crisis of political legitimacy following last year’s election results, leading to deteriorating economic conditions and a government imposing military rule on its own citizens. To date, more than a dozen people have been killed by the Zimbabwean government. Quiet diplomacy is no longer an option. Our neighbours need immediate change and as AU Chairperson elect, President Ramaphosa has an opportunity to get stuff done.

“There are a number of crisis where liberation movements have taken power and used it against their system, including against the President of the United Party for National Development (UNPD), Hakainde Hichilema, who Zambian President, Edgar Lungu has allegedly tried to assassinate.

“In addition to this, South Africa holds a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2019 – 2020. This is yet another opportunity for President Ramaphosa to use our position on the UNSC to advance liberal democratic values and stand up for justice, freedom and human rights. The ANC government’s voting record at the UN tells a worrying story of siding with dictators and thug-governments. This must change.

“During my reply to the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), I told President Ramaphosa that I will support him if he does what is right and acts in the interests of South Africa. As the Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Chairperson of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), I will support the President’s efforts if he does what is right for our nation, our region and our continent.

“The President now has national and regional power to advance democratic change in Africa. It is his duty to wield it to bring peace and stability in the region. I trust that he will heed this call to action,” concludes Mainmane.

While making his opening remarks at the Summit yesterday, the outgoing Chairperson, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda welcomed the new leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, and of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina to the Assembly. President Kagame commended Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, and Zambia for signing the instrument for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) during this Summit, and encouraged those signatories who have not yet ratified to do so, at the earliest opportunity.

Yesterday’s Assembly proceedings marked the end of Rwanda’s chairpersonship of the AU and President Kagame handed over to President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt during the opening ceremony.

President Al-Sisi called for creation of more job opportunities, and encouraged investments. The Chairperson of the African Union emphasized the need to resolve the ongoing challenges in Africa, particularly terrorism and extremism.

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