ADDIS ABABA: 7 February 2019: The 34th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Foreign Ministers kicked off on Thursday at the headquarters of the AU Commission, with Egypt participating.

The two-day meetings will set the stage for the 32nd African Summit, during which President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will receive the AU presidency. The summit will be held on Sunday and Monday.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki stressed the importance of topics to be discussed at the summit, which will convene under the theme: “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.”

Speaking at the inaugural session of the meetings, Faki lauded developments in the Horn of Africa that reflected keenness on entrenching peace and security.

He also hailed the signing of a peace agreement between the government of the Central African Republic (CAR), which has been grappling with conflict since 2012, and 14 armed groups on Wednesday in Bangui city.

He went on to say that the year of 2019 is “event-filled” as it will witness the 100th anniversary of holding the first Pan-African Congress in Paris in February 1919, as well as the 20th anniversary of signing the Sirte Declaration in September 1999 that paved the way for the establishment of the African Union.

He further stressed the necessity of achieving “African regional integration”, extolling as “very encouraging” progress made in ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that was signed on by 44 out of 55 AU member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

He also urged six countries that have not signed the agreement so far to sign it for the sake of Africa’s future.

Faki also hailed elections held in Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and stressed the necessity of fostering cooperation among African countries to improve governance.

He also called for giving an opportunity for youth and women to contribute to the development of Africa.

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