Addis Ababa, 27th January 2013.
Your Excellency Haile Mariam Desalegn, Chairperson of the African Union;
Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
Your Excellency Chairperson of the AU Commission;
Heads of Delegations, Ladies and Gentlemen;
I wish to thank the People and Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for their warm hospitality and the good environment provided to us for this summit. Let me congratulate your Excellency Haile Mariam Desalegn on the new responsibilities you just assumed and assure you of our full support in the successful conclusion of your duties.
I take this opportunity to also thank His Excellency Boni Yayi for a job well done. The new Chairperson finds a strong foundation to build on. This is also an opportune moment to thank Dr Jean Ping for the good work he did in representing Africa during his tenure as Chairperson of the AU Commission.
It is also an occasion to welcome and congratulate Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma as the new Chairperson of the Commission. I could not agree more with the words of my colleague, the President of Ghana earlier today, that it is a special time for Africa when we have our first female Chairperson of the Commission who also has impeccable credentials for the job.
Earlier today, President Boni Yayi, talked about the difficult process we went through choosing the current Chairperson. Even then, the differences had to do with many other things except the credential of Dr Dhlamini Zuma.
Gladly, that is behind us and we can now rely on her for the benefit of all Africans and assure her of our unreserved support in undertaking her endeavors.
With regard to the report of the Peace and Security Council that we just heard, and drawing from the lessons of past and most recent situations relating to Peace and Security of our Continent, I would like to make a few observations:
First, the Peace and Security situations on our continent present us with more urgent reminders of how we need to quickly build our own capacities to confront the challenges they present and how to manage them, but most important addressing properly their root causes.
In order to do this we must increase our Solidarity, Courage and Political will in confronting them. For not doing so almost permanently makes us vulnerable to many things including manipulation by, and dependence on external factors – which factors are often a big part of the problem to begin with.
It is how we relate to these factors that is also often confusing. On the one hand they appear helpful to us, while on the other hand seem to prevent us from getting out of our situations but rather perpetuate the status-quo, keeping us in a vicious cycle of dependence to them.
Former President Mbeki noted yesterday during our APRM meeting that APRM is different because it is an alternative to external reviews that tend to be punitive rather than restorative.
I would add to that observation and note that they are not only punitive but also have no distinction between right and wrong often punishing both or punishing right and rewarding wrong. Clearly they are interest driven.
I have never had any doubt that Africa can do better if we harness its resources and turn them into good use for its worth. We need to build our capacities on National Regional and Continental levels.
By speeding up African Standby Force for example, we could build capabilities to deal with some of the prevailing situations on our continent. Furthermore, nothing stops us from developing the Africa Court of Justice to also address our own genuine cases and prevent impunity that is often the excuse for the abuse by the so called International Justice System. These and many other examples are within our means to accomplish.
Finally, I would not conclude without expressing our appreciation for Africa’s support for Rwanda to sit on the UN Security Council over the next two years representing the continent. We will do so with full commitment, drawing from lessons of the last time Rwanda was there in 1994, during the worst moment of our country, and from other lessons on our continent.
I want to assure you that you will not find Rwanda wanting as a partner for Peace and Security on our continent.
I thank you for your attention.