The long-awaited African Union (AU) passport was on Sunday launched at the opening ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Assembly is made up of heads of states and governments of the 54 member states of the AU.
The AU Commission’s Chairperson, Dr Dlamini Zuma, presented the passport to the Chairperson of the union, President Idriss Deby of Chad and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
Zuma, in her address, said the passport was a landmark achievement of the commission and was intended to help with regional integration of people of the continent.
She said Africa was full of hope, possibility and optimism and she was sure that the commission would achieve its aim of a better Africa.
“We see hope in the resilience of our people and the strides of countries towards eradicating poverty and transforming our economies.
“We see hope in the ever-changing landscapes of our cities and towns, as we steadily build roads, increase access to energy, ICT, water and sanitation and build schools, clinics and sports fields.
“We have hope, because the continent’s political and business leadership are preparing to act to make African industrialisation a reality in our lifetime, so that our people benefit from their natural and mineral resources.’’
She, however, said that the better Africa could only be achieved where peace and security reigned.
“As AU we have made the pledge not to bequeath violent conflicts, wars and genocide to future generations of Africans.
“That pledge demands our attention,’’ she said.
President Deby while declaring the session open, said that the retreat of the heads of states produced immeasurable results.
He said this was because the continent had decided to take its destiny in its own hands by resolving to fully fund the activities of the union by contributing to it financially and to ensure peace and stability.
He, however, urged member states to meet up to their responsibilities.
“While putting an end to the compromising dependency of the union on external contributions to the continent, it should be noted that the annual budget of the organisation which is to be paid up on time which will help us do away with external dependency.
“That is why I want to urge member states to pay up their statutory contributions even if our countries are facing difficult economic and financial situation because of the world economic situation.’’
Deby said that the recent conflict in South Sudan was a constant reminder of the times the continent was in and that Africa’s lack of possibilities to face difficulties was unacceptable.
President Kagame in his welcome address said that the AU at its inception was precipitated on unity.
He said that the concept of unity was what anchored human diversity in the bedrock of universal values.
“Whenever we gather on the basis of what unites us, there is a peaceful solution to every problem, but when people meet as strangers even small problems are hard to resolve.
“The unity of our continent with an emplashsis on integration among other things should never be a subject to preconditions or exceptions because lasting solutions always involve everyone,’’ he said.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in his remarks condemned strongly the terrorist attack on Nice, France, saying it was unacceptable.
“Let me reiterate our solidarity and stand besides France and its people, we are confident that it will be able to overcome this hardship.
“I like to call upon all of us to stand against this terrorism that has no religion.
“At the same time we condemn all acts of terror that have been perpetrated recently all over the world and all those that are still being perpetrated in the Arab region and in the nations of Africa.’’
He said that the AU’s Agenda 2063 which involved peace and security, achieving sustainable development and improving the situation of women was an ambition that his nation would support.
Abba said Palestine was ready to cooperate with Africa since it had all the skills and competencies that would be beneficial to both parties.
The summit which has its theme as “Year of the Human Rights’’ with particular focus on the rights of women, began on Monday.
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