Egypt’s pres­i­dent is elected chair­man of the African Union

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD -

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Egypt’s Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Sisi has been elected chair­man of the African Union at the con­ti­nen­tal body’s sum­mit in Ethiopia.

Sisi ad­dressed the sum­mit af­ter be­ing elected to the post, say­ing he would fo­cus on security on the African con­ti­nent.

“Our work must con­tinue to improve peace and security in Africa in a holis­tic and sus­tain­able man­ner,” Sisi said. “Me­di­a­tion and pre­ven­tive diplomacy will re­main one of the pri­or­i­ties of the African Union.”

The new African Union chair­man said that “counter-ter­ror­ism re­quires the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of those who sup­port and fi­nance it and com­bat­ing them col­lec­tively. While we are aware of the dif­fi­culty and com­plex­ity of the strug­gle, this re­mains the only ap­pro­pri­ate way to up­root ter­ror­ism and erad­i­cate it.”

The rights group Amnesty In­ter­na­tional warned that Sisi’s chair­man­ship might un­der­mine the African Union’s hu­man rights mech­a­nisms.

“Dur­ing his time in power Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah el Sisi has demon­strated a shock­ing con­tempt for hu­man rights. Un­der his lead­er­ship the coun­try has un­der­gone a cat­a­strophic de­cline in rights and free­doms,” said Na­jia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa cam­paigns direc­tor. “There are real fears about the potential im­pact his chair­man­ship could have on the in­de­pen­dence of re­gional hu­man rights mech­a­nisms and their future en­gage­ment with civil so­ci­ety.”

The rights group said Egypt since 2015 has or­ches­trated a sus­tained po­lit­i­cal at­tack against the African Com­mis­sion on Hu­man and Peo­ples’ Rights, the body that aims to mon­i­tor African states’ hu­man rights records.

“Dozens of cases al­leg­ing se­ri­ous hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions have been lodged against Egypt at the ACHPR,” it said.

Egyp­tian lead­ers have been ab­sent from African Union meet­ings since 1995 when an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt was made on the life of for­mer leader Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi’s elec­tion brought to an end the one-year chair­man­ship of Rwanda’s Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame.

African Union chair­men set agen­das of is­sues to be ad­dressed dur­ing their oneyear ten­ure.

Dur­ing his ten­ure, Kagame chal­lenged the elec­tion re­sults in the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo.

Also at the African Union meet­ing Sun­day, a statue of Ethiopia’s last em­peror was un­veiled. Af­ter­ward a scuf­fle erupted between security guards for some African lead­ers and African Union guards, caus­ing a de­lay in the en­try pro­ces­sion of the heads of state into the main meet­ing.

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