Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi arrives Ethiopia Friday 29 Jan, 2016 (Photo Courtesy of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's page on Facebook)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi arrived in Addis Ababa on Friday ahead of the 26th African Union Summit that will take place on Saturday and Sunday, where he will meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, according to Egypt's ambassador to Ethiopia.
El-Sisi will meet over 20 African leaders including the presidents of Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad, in addition to the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on the sidelines of the summit, ambassador Abo Bakr Hanafy said on Thursday, according to MENA.
The summit will focus on questions of government, elections and commitment to constitutional principles, as well as the financing of the African Union.
Those two broad topics were decided upon in a closed session, attended by the presidents of African states ahead of the opening summit, MENA reported.
Ambassador Mohamed Hegazy, former assistant foreign minister for African matters, told MENA on Friday that this year's AU summit reveals that Africa is an important priority for Egypt. The evidence for this, Hehazy said, was that it was the third time Egypt had attended an AU summit, following the Malabo and Addis Ababa sessions.
Further indications of Egypt’s prioritisation of African affairs, according to Hegazy, can be seen in the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement that was signed last June in Sharm El-Sheikh between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that comprises 26 countries.
Egypt’s membership in the African Union was frozen following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi after mass protests in July 2013. However, Egypt was re-admitted in June 2014 two weeks after El-Sisi was elected president as a result of “the progress made in the formal restoration of constitutional order.”
Egypt's role in African security
Egypt's ambassador to Ethiopia Abo Bakr Hanafy said that this AU summit is important because it will confirm Egypt's stance -- supported by African countries – that it is necessary for two Security Council seats to be filled by African states in rotation and for them to be granted the power of veto.
African countries currently have three non-permanent Security Council seats that rotate between African member states. Last October, Egypt won a non-permanent member seat on the Security Council for 2016-2017.
During the AU Summit, there will also be a meeting for the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, less than two months before Egypt hosts a session for defense ministers from the member countries in March.
The Community of Sahel-Saharan States was created in 1998 and currently consists of 27 countries including Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Chad, Tunisia and Togo.
Hanafy said the community was expanded so that it could tackle military and security issues, in addition to its original purpose of creating a free trade area.
El-Sisi will also participate in the Peace and Security in Africa Council at the AU Summit where terrorism will be discussed, after Egypt was elected as a member on Thursday. Issues surrounding South Sudan and Burundi will also be examined.
Egypt as climate change African representative
On Sunday, El-Sisi will present a report to the summit on the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris that was held between 30 November and 12 December 2015, where he headed the committee representing African nations.
Ambassador Hanafy also said that El-Sisi will also present Africa's stance on environmental changes and their impact on the continent’s climate and economy.
El-Sisi will put forward two initiatives. First, to support renewable energy in Africa; and second, measures that need to be taken on an international and a continental level to allow the African continent to adapt to the climate change and rise in temperatures, Hanafy said.