President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi has now taken over the leadership of the African Union to serve as chairman for one year, replacing President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
Confirming the appointment of President Tshisekedi as AU chairman during the 34th AU Summit which held virtually, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that: “As we hand over the baton to the DRC, we are determined to continue working with President Tshisekedi to ensure that Africa becomes an integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of African renaissance”.
In his remarks, Ramophosa thanked the Heads of States of AU Member States as well as the AU outgoing bureau, for their support during the tenure of his mandate which he said, was marked by the prevailing sanitary crisis caused by the COVID19 pandemic.
the South African president also listed some of the achievement recorded under his chairmanship of the Union to include; efforts to reduce conflict in the continent under the theme of silencing the guns; the economic empowerment of the women and youths, the enhancement of democracy, and good governance, among other development programs under Agenda 2063.
In his acceptance speech, President Tshisekedi thanked the leaders and government of the AU body for the unique privilege and opportunity given to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to serve for 1-year.
He also commended President Cyril Ramaphosa, who, in difficult conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was able to mobilize the efforts of all the countries of the continent and partners to face this challenging moment.
While highlighting the theme of the year 2021, the new AU Chairperson Tshisekedi said, Arts, Culture, and Heritage constitute the foundation of the African renaissance and offer the opportunity for Africans to return to our roots.
“Culture is indeed, as Léopold Sédar Senghor said, at the beginning and at the end of everything, because it embraces all areas of life”- he said.
Tshisekedi faces big challenges this year with the coronavirus pandemic hitting health services and economies hard.
The continent has so far been hit less hard than other regions, recording 3.5 percent of global virus cases and 4 percent of global deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
But many African countries are battling damaging second waves while straining to procure sufficient vaccine doses.
Other pressing issues that require the intervention of the AU under the chairmanship of Félix Tshisekedi are the Nile Dam dispute and conflicts in Ethiopia’s Tigray, the Sahel, and the Central African Republic.