Heads of African Union (AU) Member States are holding a special summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this weekend over major reforms within the continental body.
The summit on November 17 and 18 will be chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in his capacity as Chairperson of the AU.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the AU Commission says the reforms to be discussed will impact the Union significantly.
“The ongoing institutional reform is, undoubtedly, one of the most ambitious initiatives for change ever taken by our Union. It touches upon all aspects of its functioning and concerns all its organs.
“Other attempts were made in the past. These, let’s face it, did not live up to expectations, leaving a bitter taste of unfinished business,” Mahamat on Wednesday.
He was speaking at the at the opening session of the Executive Council that brings together Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the AU partner states, whose recommendations are to be endorsed by Heads of State when they meet.
Egypt will assume the chairmanship of the AU early next year and it is feared that implementation of the reforms will stall since it has little or no interest in them.
President Kagame reportedly wants to push through the reforms before his tenure ends.
AFP quoted Elissa Jobson, head of African advocacy for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank who said the talks is a “last push” to enact as many changes before Kagame’s one-year term as chairperson expires in January
“The concern there is that Egypt is very unlikely to push the reforms forward, even if it doesn’t try to reverse them,” she said.
“By taking the leadership of the reform process, our leaders clearly indicated their determination to follow up all aspects and ensure its successful conclusion. They put their credibility in the balance,” Mahamat added.
The reforms, whose implementation was assigned to President Kagame by his continental peers last year, have an ultimate aim of weaning Africa off dependence on external aid by making it economically independent, reports The New Times of Rwanda.
However, after five AU summits in more than two years key states still are not on board with the reforms.
So far South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Comoros, Togo and Ghana have confirmed they will be sending their presidents.
Nigeria and Mozambique will be sending foreign ministers, while other AU members have yet to indicate who will attend.