African nations yet to harmonize position on Trump’s statement

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The African Union is yet to draw a common stance on the derogatory statement recently made by president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Addressing the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) on Thursday Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said that at the time of the convening of the meeting Africa has not yet finished digesting the statements and pronouncements made by the president of the United States which has deeply shocked through the messages of despise, hatred and the desire to marginalize and exclude Africa. “The statements on Jerusalem and the reduction of the contribution to peacekeeping operations budget in the world is a serious crisis and the continent cannot keep quiet about this,” Mahamat said.

President Donald Trump, who is known for making controversial remarks, recently used the word “shithole” to describe African countries, Haiti and El Salvador, while discussing immigration issues with US lawmakers. Trump’s remarks have instigated ferrous protests among African and South American countries who condemned the president’s derogatory remarks with some of them summoning US diplomats in their respective countries.

The 30th African Union Summit is being held under the theme, “Winning the fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Africa’s transformation”. Reforming the AU and the fight against corruption are the main items that are going to be addressed during the summit.

At the opening session of the Executive Council, Mahamat said that, African countries are concerned about corruption that deprives Africa of a huge sum of money every year. Quoting a report produced by former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s high-level panel on Illicit financial flows (IFFs) Mahamat said, corruption accompanied by illicit financial flows deprives Africa more than USD 50 billion each year. “If this can be averted and invested in development we may not need external assistance,” the chairperson said.

Mahamat said that the fight against corruption should be waged globally like the fight against terrorism. “It can be won through our collective action.”

Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), stated that corruption held Africa back for too long. “The injustice of corruption, brought to life inside our institutions, is more powerful than any injustice we could face,” Songwe said.

“For a continent that desperately requires substantial financial resources to meet its extensive development needs, including in filling its huge infrastructure gap such a significant amount of financial resources leakage through IFF and various forms of corrupt activities is definitely something that needs to be fought with every energy that can be mustered,” she added.

The AU is striving to declare its financial independence. Led by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the AU reform unit is drafting a program that would enable the commission to be self-sufficient in terms of meeting its financial needs by levying 0.2 percent tax on eligible import items.

The AU anticipates covering 100 percent of its operational budget, 75 percent of the programs and 25 percent of the peacekeeping mission operations by 2020.

“Without its independence Africa is nothing. With independence it can be everything,” Mahamat said.

The AU Executive Council meeting that ended yesterday brought together foreign ministers of the 55 African Union Member States and senior AU officials.  The Assembly of the AU Heads of State and Government is scheduled to take place on January 28-29, 2018.

 

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