Activities of Secretary-General in Ethiopia, 29-31 January

by Zelalem

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by his wife, Madame Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, late on Thursday evening, 29 January, to attend the twenty-fourth Summit of the African Union.

On Friday morning, 30 January, the Secretary-General addressed the opening ceremony of the twenty-fourth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. In his speech, he thanked African Governments for their support and solidarity in the fight against Ebola. He underlined the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations in meeting this challenge, as well as many peace and security threats on the continent, including Boko Haram. Noting the number of forthcoming elections in Africa, the Secretary-General said that undemocratic constitutional changes or loopholes should never be used to cling to power. He added that modern leaders around the world could not afford to ignore the wishes and aspirations of the people they represent. (See Press Release SG/SM/16498.)

Later, the Secretary-General attended a working luncheon on the Ebola outbreak with the Chairperson of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Speaking at the event, he welcomed the creation of a fund under the auspices of the African Union Foundation and managed by the African Development Bank for private sector donations. He also commended the initiative to establish the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to build Africa’s capacity to deal with future public health challenges. The Secretary-General said he was greatly encouraged by the solidarity shown by Africa — its Governments, businesses and people — and he added that Ebola would not be gone from any country until it was gone from every country. (See Press Release SG/SM/16499.)

Also on Friday, in the margins of the Summit, the Secretary-General met with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of Somalia; King Felipe VI of Spain; Aminu Wali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria; Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya; Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi, the President of Tunisia; Edgar Lungu, President of Zambia; Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea; Michel Kafando, Transitional President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso; and Hifikepunye Pohamba, the President of Namibia.

Later that evening, the Secretary-General attended a banquet hosted by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

The following day, Saturday, 31 January, the Secretary-General co-chaired the fifth meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism for the implementation of the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region. He welcomed the resolve to use military force against the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and said it was important that this now translated into concrete results on the ground. He added that the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, was ready to participate operationally and logistically in these operations, but added that military action alone would not resolve this issue. The Secretary-General also said he was concerned by the slow progress in implementing the Nairobi Declarations and urged the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda to intensify efforts to complete this process as soon as possible. (See Press Release SG/SM/16504.)

The Secretary-General then held a press conference where he said that the African Union Summit was an opportunity to meet African leaders and to review the partnership for peace, security and development between the United Nations and the African Union. He said he was proud of the work done together to fight Ebola and stressed that the international community must continue to demonstrate the same solidarity until Ebola was gone from every country, and throughout the next phase of recovery. The Secretary-General also said that the collaboration on peace and security was one of the most important elements of the United Nations partnership with the African Union. He, however, added that terrorism, cross-border crime and other transnational threats continued to be challenges. He said that the murderous campaign waged by Boko Haram demanded stronger and more coordinated action from us all, and he expressed his strong support for the African Union’s moves to establish a multinational joint task force.

The Secretary-General then met with Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop of Mali and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden.

The Secretary-General left Addis Ababa for New York in the afternoon of 31 January.

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