Addis Ababa, 15 July 2012

President Kagame was in Addis Ababa on Sunday to participate in the 19th Session of the AU Assembly taking place from 15-16 July 2012 under the theme “Boosting Intra African Trade.”

President Kagame was received at Addis Ababa Airport by Amin Abdulkadir Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism along with Minister Louise Mushikiwabo and Ambassador Joseph Nsengimana.

With only 10-12% of intra African trade in comparison with 40% of intra North American trade or 63% of intra Western European trade, members of the African Union have gathered in Addis to build upon the commitment of all nations to achieve integration, economic growth and development.

On the agenda of the 19th Session of the AU Assembly new elections for the Chairman of the African Union Commission. The two candidates running for elections are Madam Dlamini Zuma and Jean Ping.

According to Minister Mushikiwabo:

“Rwanda has expressed its support for Jean Ping as candidate for the African Union Chairmanship although we have worked closely with the highly qualified Madam Dlamini Zuma during her time as foreign minister of South Africa. Rwanda values the principle of a large country not taking the top job in the AU.”

The opening session was marked by speeches from Mr. Jean Ping, the newly elected Senegalese President Macky Sall and representative from Palestine and guest of honor His Royal Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait. Reflecting the spirit of the founders of the African Union, President Macky Sall told the audience that Africa has all it needs to succeed and that its strength lays in its unity.

Preceding the voting session, President Kagame held a bilateral meeting with DRC President Joseph Kabila before attending the meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region chaired by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. The 11 heads of states are expected to reaffirm their commitment to the recommendations made by ICGLR foreign ministers earlier this week. The latter committed to a renewed focus on strong and decisive action against the FDLR who remain a threat to Rwanda as well as to Rwandophone and other comunities in Eastern DRC; and to reinforcing the surveillance on the border between Rwanda and the DRC, supervised by a mutually-agreed third-party. The leaders also proposed a summit to look into to the root causes of conflict in the DRC.