First ever woman AU Chief officially assumes office

First ever woman AU Chief officially assumes office
# 15 October 2012 17:24 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa on Monday officially assumed office of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), replacing Jean Ping of Gabon, in a ceremony held at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Zuma won the election for the top post in July against Ping who had served a term of four years, and who replaced Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali in 2008.

Deputized by Erastus Mwencha of Kenya who was re-elected for the same position, Zuma has become the first ever woman leader of the 54-member Pan-African institution.

Ping handed over the AU Constitutive Act, its Flag, the Gavel, and other documents to Zuma at a ceremony witnessed by President Boni Yayi of Benin, current AU Chairperson, and Hailemariam Dessalegn, Ethiopian Prime Minister.

The ceremony was also attended by ambassadors, AU permanent representatives, heads of international and regional organizations, and AUC staff members.

"I stand before you today as a humble servant of the African continent and its people, ready - together with the newly elected Commissioners - to join the hundreds of African Union Commission staff, who have held the banner of the AU flying high," said Zuma in her remarks during the ceremony.

"I expect to stand on the shoulders of the giants that preceded me, working together with member states and other partners to create a prosperous Africa, which is at peace with itself and the world," she said.

The new Chairperson noted that AUC exerts effort to address issues of peace and stability in Africa as well as to resolve conflicts in some regions of the continent that cause suffering, death and destruction, and also impede the social, political and economic development of the continent.

"We will, therefore, spare no efforts to try and resolve the conflict in Mali and the Sahel region. We will continue to provide the necessary support to the AU High Level Panel on Sudan so that it can help both Sudan and South Sudan in finalizing all outstanding issues between them. We will support all efforts to bring about peace and stability in the DR Congo and the Great Lakes region as a whole. And of course we shall not forget Guinea Bissau," stated Zuma.

The Chairperson also underscored on the need to enhance efforts to address food security, high maternal and infant mortality as well as to address issues of young people.

She said further efforts should also be employed to properly exploit Africa’s natural resources and to develop infrastructure on the continent.

"Key to integration is the development of our infrastructure and connectivity between our countries and regions to facilitate people-to-people relations and facilitate intra-Africa trade and tourism," said the Chairperson.

The outgoing Chairperson on his part noted that his past four- year term was tense.

Indicating that the task is not easy at the commission, Ping pledged to provide support to the new Chairperson.

He said a new chapter is opening on this continent at the helm of the organization.

Ping stated that Zuma has occupied duties and functions with impression background, and that the organization is in good hands.

The outgoing chairperson also expressed his belief that she would carry the flame of the continent very high and work to prosperity and well-being of the African people.

Declaring the change of the leadership in the Commission, President Boni Yayi of Benin who is also chairperson of AU, said the election of Zuma as a head of AU Commission is an opportunity to multiply successes of African women.

It shows that more African women are involved in the management positions on the continent.

President Yayi also appreciated the outgoing team led by Chairperson Ping for their qualitative works achieved at the continental organization.

He commended Ping for his leadership, recognized capacities of great pan-Africanist, fighter of Africa’s cause, as well as his contribution to peace and to address conflicts on the continent.

The President noted that the advent of the pan-African university is one of the visible happenings on which Ping’s leadership passed decision for implementation.

Yayi called on the incoming commission to exert more effort to overcome challenges and to successfully accomplish the lot of works remain to be done.

Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopian prime minister, assured the incoming AUC Chairperson that Ethiopia, Headquarters of the Commission, would remain steadfast in fulfilling its commitment and provide all the necessary support to her in discharging responsibilities.

He also expressed his belief that Zuma would continue to build on the works of her predecessor towards the realization of the cardinal principles and objectives of the Union.

Hailemariam lauded the efforts of the outgoing chairperson to achieve the fundamental objectives of the Union and promote the cause of Africa on the international stage.

"During his term of office, the number of peacekeeping troops deployed in Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere under the auspices of the AU has significantly increased," said the premier.

"Chairperson Ping has also played an important role not only in expanding and consolidating Africa’s strategic partnership with the outside world but also in strengthening the AU’s position in terms of coordinating Africa’s engagement with different partners, " he added.

With other staff members, the AU Commission is composed of a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson, eight Commissioners in charge of peace and security, political affairs, trade and industry, infrastructure and energy, social affairs, rural economy and agriculture, human resources and Science & technology, and economic affairs.

The mission of the AU Commission is to become an efficient and value-adding institution driving the African integration and development process in close collaboration with AU member states, regional economic communities and African citizens.

Established in 1963, the then Organization for African Unity (OAU) was transformed into the African Union (AU) about 10 years ago.
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