1. We have just concluded the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia held from 30-31 January. This was preceded by the 30th Ordinary Executive Council comprising of Foreign Ministers held from January 25-27, 2017 and 33rd Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) held from January 22-24, 2017.
2. The Theme of the summit was “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the youth”. The leaders exchanged views and made fundamental decisions to achieve the Demographic Dividend in Africa. Heads of state and Government decided that a Special Youth Envoy will be appointed to give effect to the African Demographic Dividend Agenda and engage key decision makers in the implementation of a road map with key deliverables and milestones to guide Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on concrete actions to be undertaken in 2017 and beyond and to commit to investing in a better future for young people.
3. The Summit paid glowing tribute to Presidents Museveni, Uhuru Kenyatta and Pierre Nkurunziza for their national armies and security forces’ contribution to the stabilization of Somalia. President Museveni was also singled out for his exemplary leadership in efforts to fight the LRA in Central Africa Republic (CAR), and his Mediation role in the Burundi Talks
4. APRM: The Summit of the African Peer Review Mechanism APRM took place on Saturday 28 January 2017, chaired by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. Progress reports of five countries (Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Senegal and Sudan) were peer reviewed. Hon Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development led the Uganda Delegation to that meeting.
5. President Museveni attended a working breakfast between the Heads of State and Government and the new United Nations Secretary General on Sunday 29 January 2017 that discussed; (a) Partnership on issues of peace and security; (b) Genuine strategic dialogue on global challenges like Climate Change; (c) Africa’s role and presence in both global governance and in the United Nations system.
It was agreed that, in every African Union summit in January, there will be a breakfast meeting between the Secretary-General and all the African Heads of States, translating the strong commitment of Africa to a very close relationship with UN. It was also agreed that Agenda 2063, which is the development agenda of the African Union, and Agenda 2030, the sustainable development agenda that was agreed in the summit last year, will be aligned. There will only be one line of reporting, to ensure total cooperation between the UN and the African Union with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Paris Agreement in the years to come.
H.E. President Museveni also held bilateral discussions with the following leaders:
• H.E. the Prime Minister of Federal Republic of Ethiopia
• H.E. the President of The Sudan
• H.E. the President of the United Republic of Tanzania
• H.E. the President of Equatorial Guinea
• H.E. the President of the Central African Republic
• The United Nations-Secretary General
• The President of the Africa Development Bank
6. United Nations Secretary-General’s pledge to secure funding for African Troops on AU/UN peace keeping Missions: HE Antonio Guterres, pledged, within the mandate of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, to seek funding under the Peace Keeping Operations Mechanism of the UN to African troops acting under the AU mandate so as to ensure more effective, and predictable funds for the latter.
7. Uganda-UN Pledging Conference: During the same meeting, President Museveni urged the United Nations to help Uganda handle the worsening refugee situation. Uganda was lauded for having one of the most progressive refugee policies in the world and hosting one of the highest number of refugees in the world. The two leaders agreed to host a solidarity conference on refugees in March 2017 in Kampala with both Uganda and the United Nations as co-conveners.
8. Climate Change: In his meeting with the UN Secretary-General, President Museveni urged the United Nations to support Uganda’s efforts on environment reclamation, towards meeting SDG 15 of the United Nations development goals ‘to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of the terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss’.
9. Bilateral meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister: I met with my Egyptian counterpart, H.E. Sameh Shouky, with whom I discussed follow-up activities to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s recent visit to Uganda and the promotion of bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade and regional peace and security.
10. Retreat of Heads of State and Government : To show and concretize Africa’s commitment to solving the continents’ problems collectively, the Heads of State and Government held a retreat to prioritize inter alia, the following:
• Institutional Reform of the African Union:
It may be recalled that during the Kigali Heads of State and Government Summit in July 2016, it was agreed to undertake a study on the reform of the AU, under the leadership of H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, in order to put in place a system of governance capable of addressing the challenges facing the Union. The main areas identified were: a) Key priorities with continental scope; ( b) realigning African institutions in order to deliver this priorities; c) Connecting the Union to its citizens; d) effective and efficient management of the union business at political and economic level; e) Financing the African Union sustainably and with full ownership of the Union Members.
• The discussion on Financing the African Union with a view to ensuring that Member States take charge of the continent’s destiny from their own resources took center stage and the Leaders came up with fundamental decision such as a) mandating Their Excellences, Presidents Kagame, Idriss Deby and Alpha Conde to supervise the implementation process; b) putting in place a Reform Implementation Unit at the AU Commission; c) ensuring the legally binding decisions and commitment are implemented by Member States.
• The realization of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the Mechanism to eliminate Non Trade Barriers (NTBs) in Africa the Heads of State discussed feasible options on how to eliminate non-trade barriers among African countries to foster intra African trade.
11. Elections: The following important elections were conducted:
• H.E President Yoweri Museveni was elected First Vice President of the Bureau of the Assembly of the Union, deputizing Mr. Alpha Conde. President of the Republic of Guinea, who was elected as the Chair of the Union, replacing President Idris Deby Itno of Chad.
• Chadian Foreign Minister Hon. Moussa Faki as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission by AU Heads of State and Government, who form the Assembly of the African Union.
• Ghana’s Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey as Deputy Chairperson.
• Eight Commissioners for the running of the Commissions’day to day affairs in the field of Politics, Defence , Trade, Agriculture, social affairs and others vital areas for the managements of the continents development agenda
12. The Kingdom of Morocco was readmitted to the Union as a full member after walking out over the occupation of the WesternSahara following what was perhaps the most contentious debate on following the provisions of the Constitutive Act and its interpretation.
13. Uganda lobbied for and was rewarded with an Endorsement of Justice Solomy Bossa to contend as an African for a seat on the International Criminal Court (ICC).
14. The African leaders also rolled out the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020.
15. The 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union will be held in July 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while the Next Africa-EU Summit will take place in Cote D’Ivoire from 29th -30 November 2017.
16. On the Issue of the ICC the Heads of State deliberated the need for the international community to respect the decisions of the Union. They supported the Gambia, South Africa and Burundi for withdrawing from the Court. They reiterated the resolve of African Heads to respect the rule of law and end impunity especially through the creation of an African Criminal Court as envisioned by the Maputo Protocol on the amendments on the Protocol on the African Court of Justice and human and Peoples’ Rights.