Moroccan delegates stall AU ministers’ meeting

African Union

African Union

In what may be another reflection of the soft-underbelly of African Union (AU) and the continent’s drive towards regional integration and economic development, delegates from Morocco yesterday held to ransom the opening of the Conference of Ministers holding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, protesting the adoption of rules and regulations governing the conduct of the meeting.

Many delegates from various other African countries were caught unprepared when delegates from Morocco raised their concerns about the presence of delegates from the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, a controversial republic recognised by the AU to the chagrin of Morocco, which has always claimed the territory as part and parcel of the larger Morocco.

One of the Moroccan delegates, who spoke with The Guardian, insisted that since the gathering is a United Nations (UN) event, saying: “The AU cannot continue to sneak in through the back or door, or whatever pretences, rebel group within a country. If it’s strictly an AU event, we can understand where that body stands. But as far as the world knows, the UN has not accorded recognition to any rebel group that is part of Morocco.”

The meeting was consequently put on hold for several hours, even after adjournment for break on at least three different occasions to enable various stakeholders harmonise differences. Eventually, Morocco threatened to stop attending subsequent meetings.

Meanwhile and despite the setback in discussions, the event kicked off with calls for Africa’s green industrialisation, even as South Africa ascended the chair of the Bureau of the Committee of Experts – the governing body of the joint meetings. Various speakers urged participants to engage in constructive debates that will promote Africa’s structural transformation through green industrialisation.

Highlights of the meetings, under the theme “Towards an integrated and coherent approach to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals” would include the launching of the Economic Commission for Africa’s flagship economic report for Africa 2016 report.

Deliberations will over the week evolve around the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Objectives (SDGs) and Africa’s 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063.

“We will debate on how countries can adopt and implement effectively a common frame-work for meeting the goals of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development,” said Hamidi Mwinyinvua, Chair of the former Bureau of the Committee of Experts and also Tanzania’s Ambassador to Ethiopia.

Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the AU Commission, Mr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, called on African countries to embrace an “integrated and coherent approach to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Agenda 2063 and SDGs.”
“Current economic and financial challenges are spurring member states towards economic transformation,” he said as he urged member states to harmonise Agendas 2063 and 2030 for Africa’s transformation.

Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa,
Mr. Abdalla Hamdok, called for constructive debate and thought provoking discussions that will lead to the formulation of strategies for the effective implementation for the continent’s collective developmental vision.

He cautioned, however, that “such strategies should not only focus on expediting the promotion of strong and sustainable long term growth but also ensuring that the benefits of such growth are widely shared in order to reduce poverty and improve African’s standards of living”.

A number of meetings will take place during the week, including the 17th Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa), the annual meeting of the Group of African central Bank Governors as well as more than 20 events and the presentation and launch of a dozen reports and publications, including the Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2016), the ECA country profiles, the Africa Governance Report and the evaluation of regional integration in Africa.

More than 1,000 high level delegates are expected during the African Development Week, including current and former heads of State, Central Bank Governors, and representatives of member-states, civil society, private sectors, media as well as international academics and experts and development partners.

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