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Sunday, 05 April 2020

Handing over the AU presidency

Reem Leila reports on Egypt’s handover of the rotating presidency of the African Union to South Africa

Reem Leila , Wednesday 12 Feb 2020
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Al-Sisi handing over the chairmanship of the AU to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
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President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi was in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa earlier this week to participate in the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit, during which he passed the chair of the AU to South Africa. The summit was convened under the banner “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conditions Conducive to African Development”.

The president delivered a speech at the summit reviewing achievements during Egypt’s presidency of the AU which started in February 2019, paying particular attention to the African Continental Free Trade Area which was activated on 30 May, 2019. Al-Sisi also participated in the AU Peace and Security Council meeting on Libya, the meeting of the African Mechanism for Western Sahara and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)’s Forum of Heads of State and Government.

Al-Sisi chaired a closed session on 9 February during which African leaders reviewed the challenges facing the continent. He also discussed with African leaders ways to enhance bilateral relations in all areas.

On the summit’s sidelines Al-Sisi held a meeting with Algerian President Abdel-Madjid Tebboune during which they exchanged views on a multitude of regional dossiers, the Libyan crisis among them. According to Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi, the two leaders’ views were aligned on the need to strengthen coordination. Both Egypt and Algeria have long borders with Libya and the ongoing Libyan crisis directly impacts on the two countries’ national security. Both presidents reiterated their commitment to ending the Libyan crisis by reaching a political solution that can pave the way for the restoration of security and stability and prevent foreign interference in Libya.

President Al-Sisi also met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The two discussed regional and international issues, with especial attention paid to the situation in Libya and Syria and the Middle East peace process. President Al-Sisi confirmed the importance of working to implement the Berlin summit on Libya’s commitments and emphasised Egyptian support for relevant UN efforts.

Guterres said the UN was keen to strengthen and support cooperation with Egypt on laying the foundations for peace, stability and development at a regional level and acknowledged Egypt’s pivotal role in Africa and the Middle East, its continued support for UN reform initiatives and significant contribution to UN peace-keeping missions.

Al-Sisi also met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The two leaders discussed ways of enhancing cooperation on combating terrorism and extremism as well as Egypt’s efforts to improve the business climate, encourage the private sector and attract Foreign Direct Investment.

Their talks addressed regional issues and efforts to reach political solutions to regional crises, possible coordination between Egypt and Canada in international fora to reinforce international peace and stability and back Africa’s development agenda, and possible openings in Egypt for Canadian educational institutions.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 13 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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