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Rwanda President Paul Kagame takes over chair of African Union | Coastweek

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Participants attending the 30th heads of state and government summit of the African Union (AU) seen at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is seen second row right (with yellow circle). The 30th heads of state and government summit of the African Union (AU) opened Sunday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, under the theme of anti-corruption. XINHUA PHOTO - LYU SHUAI


Rwanda President Paul Kagame takes over chair of African Union

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Sunday took over chairmanship of the African Union (AU) during the heads of state and government summit of the AU.

Kagame took over the chairmanship from Guinea’s President Alpha Conde at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government, within the framework of the 30th AU Summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The 30th AU summit held from Jan. 22 to 29 is being convened under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

Africa’s defining challenge is to create a pathway to prosperity for its people, especially young people, said Kagame, who also leads the the chair of the Union for a one-year term, and the chairmanship rotates among the five sub-regions of the continent.

African countries need to work in unity, create a single continental market, integrate their infrastructure and infuse their economies with technology, said Kagame in his acceptance speech.

He called on African countries to create a single continental market, integrate infrastructure, infuse economies with technology and stay together.

Kagame also said AU’s flagship initiatives, such as Agenda 2063, have tremendous value.

Africa is “nearly ready” to adopt the Continental Free Trade Area, said the new chairperson. “It really needs to be done this year.”

According to him, freedom of movement for people in Africa “is achievable in 2018.”



AU chairperson calls for empowerment of young people

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union’s new Chairperson Paul Kagame on Sunday for the continental organization to empower youth to have a better life.

Kagame, who is also Rwanda’s president, made the appeal at the opening session of the 30th AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

“Too many Africans come of age in the same conditions as their parents and grandparents, and sometimes the hardships ensured are even worse,” he said.

“Our job is to make sure that every generation in Africa, enjoys a better life than the previous one, but young Africans as professional men and women, have a full role to play, we can’t build Africa without you,” further said Kagame.

But the Rwandan president cautioned African youth to not feel entitled to a better life than their parents, rather work to achieve it.

“Elders should be able to enjoy the pleasure, of telling you how hard they had it at your age, so you don’t take things for granted, and are inspired to work even harder,” he advised.

Kagame took over the AU Chairperson position for a one year period from Guinean President Alpha Conde during the AU summit on Sunday.

With about 70 percent of Africa’s estimated 1 billion plus population categorized as youth, the AU is tapping the potential of young people to meet its ambitious Agenda 2063 vision. 


UN General Assembly modifies name of int’l day for Rwandan genocide

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution to change the name of an international day in memory of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The new resolution changes the designation of April 7 as “the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda” from the name of “the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda” as used by a December 2003 resolution.

In introducing the Rwandan-drafted resolution, Rwandan ambassador to the United Nations, Valentine Rugwabiza, told the General Assembly that the new text captures the historical facts of what happened in 1994, which is a genocide “against the Tutsi” and leaves no room for ambiguity.

“Historical accuracy and words are vital while referring to the genocide. The tactics of genocide denial and revisionism are well-known and documented. Some people, mostly those who were involved by action or omission, promote the theory of double genocide in the futile belief that such suggestion might divert their own responsibility,” she said.

The resolution was adopted without vote. Yet it does not mean that the move was without reservations from delegates.

Kelley Currie, the U.S. representative, said that changing the title of the resolution “does not fully capture the magnitude of the genocide and of the violence committed against other groups.”

Hutus and people from other groups were also murdered for their opposition to the atrocities against Tutsis, she noted.

“We will not stand in the way of changing the title of the resolution. We believe it is important to understand that our understanding of the circumstances of the genocide has not narrowed.”

The EU representative at the General Assembly also regretted the lack of consultations over such an important matter.

The Rwandan genocide was committed by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million Rwandans were brutally murdered during 100 days from April 7 to mid-July 1994, the overwhelming majority of the victims being Tutsis.


AU official calls on Africans to actively utilize continental justice organs

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- African countries should actively utilize continental justice organs to find appropriate and timely justice, an AU official said on Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 30th AU Summit in Ethiopia, Richard Ssewakiryanga, Presiding Officer at the AU Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC), said citizens of African countries should utilize justice bodies like the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) based in Arusha, Tanzania instead of often looking to justice institutions from outside Africa.     

Operational since 2008, ACHPR works to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa.

“Another example the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which recently successfully concluded prosecuting suspects in the 1994 genocide, shows African justice systems do work,” said Ssewakiryanga.

His comments were implicitly directed at the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in Hague, Netherlands and functional since 2002.

The ICC has been accused of disproportionately focusing on alleged crimes committed in African countries by Africans, while failing to prosecute alleged crimes committed by western countries in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.


Fruitful China-Africa co-operation during AU summit

By Xinhua Writers Lyu Tianran, Wang Shoubao and Chen Chen ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- National flags of African countries were flying along the Airport Road in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. The eight-lane road, built by a Chinese company, was decorated for the ongoing 30th African Union (AU) Summit held in the plateau city.

Above the road, a welcome sign hanging on a viaduct of the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit was greeting participants of the summit.

The electrified light rail built and operated by Chinese companies is the first light railway on the African continent with two lines of a total length of 34 km. It was 85 percent funded by China.

The project is a historic accomplishment in Ethiopia and a landmark phenomenon to the country’s transportation sector in particular, said Ethiopian Minister of Transport Workneh Gebeyehu on the launching ceremony in September 2015.

“This is the fastest way to travel in the city,” said 19-year-old student Abel Gezahgen aboard the light rail.

“I like Chinese, they bring development to us,” he said. Outside the window, Chinese-built skyscrapers and logos of Chinese companies came into view.

The Sino-Ethiopian partnership is a comprehensive one and could be seen as “a model for the South-South cooperation,” Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian told Xinhua in an interview in December.

“The relationship between Ethiopia and China is based on comprehensive, strategic and cooperative partnership in all areas and at all levels,” he said.

China, Ethiopia’s largest trading partner, is a major player in Ethiopia’s investment, trade and diplomatic landscape.

In the past two decades alone, Chinese companies have invested close to 4 billion U.S. dollars in Ethiopia, the Ethiopia Investment Commission revealed last month.

Private Chinese firms’ investment is the single largest foreign direct investment source for Ethiopia in 2017, according to the commission.

“China and Africa have excellent relations, I want the relations to continue to grow for the mutual benefits for China and Africa,” said former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete after attending a side event of the AU summit at the China-funded AU headquarters.

The high-rise project consists of two main buildings, including a tower housing offices with a capacity of 700 people and a conference center equipped with facilities for top-level meetings. The grand hall of the conference boasts a capacity of 2,500, while another meeting hall accommodates 700.

Officials from the AU and its members states are meeting at the conference center for the summit, taking place from Jan. 22 to 29, under the theme of anti-corruption.

“China is one of the most important partners of Africa in all sectors, both bilaterally and multilaterally,” said Abou bakr Hefny Mahmoud, Egyptian Permanent Representative to the AU, on the sidelines of the summit.

As Africa is concentrating on Agenda 2063, we hope that China will “sustain and support” the agenda, said the envoy.

A few meters outside the conference center, a Chinese-aided project dubbed the AU Integrated Services Center was under construction. It will encompass among others an accreditation facility, a cafeteria, and the AU Archives and Exhibition Center.

“We see it as yet another step in the journey of a thousand miles that we have started with the government of China, towards mutual friendship, solidarity and prosperity for the peoples of Africa and the people of China,” said former chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the groundbreaking ceremony of the project.



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