President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi assumes chair of the African Union on Saturday.
His assumption of office is on the first day of the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments in Addis Ababa.
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He succeeds South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, as the organization’s rotating chairperson.
The AU will be looking to address the “devastating impact of COVID-19” on the continent.
The Union’s official theme for 2021 is “Arts, Culture, and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.
“Despite country and continent-wide control measures, the impact of COVID-19 has imposed enormous human, financial and socio-economic costs on the African People,” Tshisekedi said.
“This crisis, however, also gives us the chance to re-examine our socio-economic priorities and work towards a sustainable and inclusive economic growth which allows African women and girls to contribute to our societies to the fullest. We must be more self-reliant and find collective solutions to our problems.”
The DRC during its term as head of the Union is looking to “elevate African voices”, Tshisekedi said.
It will also focus on sustainable development “by and for” Africa.
“We will work to ensure their integral well-being, peace and security, health care and a strong response against COVID-19, as well as food security.
“Agricultural transformation, education, gender equality, climate justice, the free movement of people and goods, and freedom of speech and religion, as well as the enhancement of our common heritage: languages, and memorial sites of the history of African people, will also be at the centre of our agenda,” the president added.