Addis Ababa, Monday, January 27, 2014: The 24th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (EC) of the African Union (AU), comprising African Ministers of Foreign Affairs, convened today at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The EC meeting is preparatory to the 22nd Summit of African Heads of State and Government, which will be held on 30-31 January under the theme “The Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”. The Summit also marks the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP). President Ellen Jonson Sirleaf is expected in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, 28 January for the 22nd Summit.
Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan is at the head of the Liberian Delegation to the Executive Council meeting, which was preceded by a three-day Foreign Ministerial Retreat in the Ethiopian resort city of Bahir Dar focused on the AU’s landmark Agenda 2063 Framework.
The Executive Council meeting is expected to take stock of the work of the AU Commission over the last six months, elect new members of the AU Peace and Security Council, discuss various items proposed by Member States, and deliberate on issues of relevance to the Continent including recent conflicts South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Speaking during the Opening Session, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma emphasized that in order for Africa to ensure sustained and inclusive growth of 7% and higher, agriculture and agro-processing are critical. Dr. Zuma further noted that “The AU Commission will take special measures by working with UNECA, African Development Bank, Regional Communities, Member States and civil society to ensure that women, who are the largest part of agricultural work force and food producers on the continent, have access to training and capital, and are supported in forming cooperatives, marketing structures and agribusiness”. Dr. Zuma furthered that “Africa will not succeed in eradicating poverty, disease, conflict and hunger unless African countries have a greater integration of their economies, industrialize, and increase agricultural production”.
For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the Executive Council of the African Union, Dr. Tedros Adhanom drew the Council’s attention to the ongoing political crisis in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, stressing that it is time to help these two African States restore peace and stability and address their internal challenges. He however welcomed the signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and Question of Detainees between the Government of South Sudan and the opposition; and called upon the parties to remain committed to the terms of the agreement. Dr. Tedros Adhanom also announced that the AU has lifted sanctions on Madagascar, a measure that has now restored all of the country’s rights to participate in activities of the Union, including in the Executive Council and the Summit. Dr. Tedros Adhanom also welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2127 (2013) which authorized the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), and the recent election of H.E. Ms. Catherine Samba-Panza as the new President of the CAR.
The Foreign Ministry dispatch announced that Foreign Minister Ngafuan will hold several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Zambia, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain, among others.
Other members of the Liberian Delegation attending the Executive Council meeting include Liberia’s Ambassador to the AU, Ambassador Vivienne Wreh; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation, Hon. B. Elias Shoniyin; Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Marjon Kamara; and other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.