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RWANDA: Kagame wants faster reforms for Africa

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President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has urged fellow heads of State and government to embrace speedy reform of the African Union is to avert an existential threat from external parties.

President Kagame was on June 03 presenting a report on the implementation of the Institutional Reforms of the African Union to fellow leader at the 29th AU Summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“These reforms are long overdue. In Africa, too often, we keep promises the way we keep time; even the promises we make to ourselves and to our own future generations,” he said.

“How is Africa supposed to rise, except by completing this reform? The much bolder initiatives that we envision will remain only dreams until we do so,” he said.

President Kagame was concerned that sometimes, after Heads of State and Government have made decisions, some lower officials have sought to review these decisions.

“I suggest that where matters are to be reviewed, the best way to do so is to bring the matter back to Heads of State to see what they can do differently. But not changing the decisions of Heads of State when they have pronounced themselves,” he said.

“It is up to us to drive it forward and keep up the momentum, with constant mobilisation. This is, after all, an undertaking of Heads of State and it must be therefore respected as such,” he added.

He said the stubborn culture of going back and forth, needs to be reined in because it shows indiscipline.

“We cannot continue to operate like that. We have to do business differently,” he said.

Kagame said when the leaders insist on things being done quickly, it must be understood that AU affairs must be handled with energy, purpose, and resolve.

He said the next six months will be hectic as proposals for the next Summit in January 2018 are prepared.

He expressed appreciation for the leadership and support his fellow leaders in the African Union have given him as he carried out the task assigned to him to supervise the implementation of reform of the organization.

President Kagame was on June 03 presenting a report on the implementation of the Institutional Reforms of the African Union to fellow leader at the 29th AU Summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

He said the many leaders shared their ideas, both in person and in writing, and re-affirming their commitment to reform the AU.

“We are as committed and united as we were at the outset. This fact is the first and most important item which I have to report,” he said.

Kagame said as evidence mounts that the reform is real and irreversible, it has been met with expressions of polite surprise, bordering on discomfort, “from external parties”.

He said an articulate and effective AU challenges entrenched interests and assumptions in the World Order that the external parties are familiar with.

“Even those who wish us well may have reason to discourage a more independent and organised Africa. We should be prepared to react accordingly,” he said.

“This should only serve to remind us of the reasons we felt the need to make these changes in the first place. It is therefore important to prepare the framework for the upcoming partnership summit in Abidjan in advance, and within the spirit of our reform,” he added.

The AU is an organisation of 55 countries on the world’s second-largest continent and reforming it is as expected of enormous complexity and significance.

He said his team has held consultations since January with the Chairperson of the Commission, the Supervising Heads of State, and members of the Executive Council and Permanent Representatives Committee. That included the Chairperson of the AU, President Alpha Conde, and his predecessor, President Idriss Deby.

The key principle we must insist on is not to allow political or technical dilemmas to override our strategic imperatives, but rather to address them as they arise. We must work together and find the solutions that allow us to keep moving forward.

Among the issues raised was the level of representation at the Assembly meetings and a decision was taken that Heads of State may not be represented by officials below Vice President, Prime Minister, or the equivalent.

They said, however, there may be circumstances justifying representation by Foreign Ministers, who by their very nature are fully empowered to represent their governments.

“The problem comes when the exception becomes routine. Soon enough, we are not getting the value out of these Summits that we need and expect,” Kagame said.

The other question concerned the location of summits and two perspectives offered for discussion. First, that the AU has an established way of hosting its annual Ordinary Summit at its headquarters in Addis.

Secondly, there is no shortage of major events for other Member States to host, including Extraordinary Summits, and the Coordination Summit between the African Union and Regional Economic communities, every July.

President Kagame offered an implementation matrix to guide realistic reform on the issue in a timely manner.

The reform can be substantially complete by our Summit in January 2019, which would adequately reflect the urgency of seizing the narrow window of opportunity before us.

The structure and mandate of the Reform Implementation Unit was also an issue.

“It must be made clear that the Reform Implementation Unit is part of the Office of the Chairperson and is accountable to him. It has no other reporting lines. The Chairperson, in turn, answers to the committee of Heads of State,” Kagame said.

“However, it goes without saying that the success of the Unit requires frequent consultation with all concerned organs, structures, and stakeholders,” he added.

He said the Unit cannot be an inaccessible agency that conducts its work in secret.

“It will be transparent because it works for, and on behalf of, all of us,” he said.

Implementation of the Johannesburg and Kigali Financing Decisions came up repeatedly throughout our consultations, Kagame said. These concern the financing of the AU, which Kagame described as “the nerve centre of everything else we are doing”. It is supposed to be done fairly and equitably.

“The Financing Decisions imply an increased level of financial commitment from all Member States. There is no way around that,” he said, “We have agreed to pay or even make sacrifices where necessary.” He said around 10 countries are already paying as agreed.

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One comment

  1. Ndinawe Kateera

    A U is a club of African dictators peddling their parochial personal interests. They never address core issues affecting the common persons such as free trade and movement across borders.

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