The 20th African Union Summit will be held on 27-28 January 2013 at the organisation headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis-Ababa under the theme Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, the AU directorate of information and communication said in a statement this week.
The AU executive council (EC), which includes foreign affairs ministers and other VIP delegates designated by their respective countries, has already been meeting in Addis Ababa since Thursday 25 January as a curtain raiser, with a call for more efforts and unity, the statement said.
It remains unclear what the unity and African renaissance theme is referring to, but analysts will closely watch the outcome of the summit to see if the organisation has matured enough 50 years after its foundation to move the conflict and poverty-hit continent forward.
In her welcoming remarks, newly-elected AU chairperson South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stressed the need for a healthy balance between achieving peace and advancing development, both of which she said are critical principles to be achieved through people-centered government and public institutions.
The 20th AU summit is taking place against the backdrop of the war in Mali, which has stirred an urgent French intervention while the rest of the continent stood up and watched terrorist groups tear Mali apart, and create a terrific humanitarian situation, and threaten security in the Sahel region.
The Mali situation came to the fore at the EC opening session, with Benin foreign affairs and EC chairperson Nassirou Bako-Arifari saying that the crisis in Mali was a challenge not only for the Western African region, but also a threat for the whole of Africa and the international community.
However, he said the countdown for the resolution of the crisis has started with the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).
But the deployment of AFISMA has been met with challenges of logistics and funding, as Ecowas said it had no money to transport troops from their home countries to Mali.