Statement: President Jacob Zuma concludes his attendance and participation in the 17th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union – held in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea)

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President Jacob Zuma arrived in Pretoria this morning from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, having concluded his attendance and participation in the 17th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union last night.

The theme of the Assembly was “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. The 17th Session of the AU dealt with a number of important issues, key amongst which were:
·     The integration of youth in the process of African Sustainable development;
·     Regional Integration, development and Cooperation;
·     Discussions on “Shared Values” of democracy, elections and good governance;
·     Africa’s preparation for COP17/CMP7;
·     Transformation of the AU Commission into the AU Authority;
·     Peace and security in the continent;
·     Equitable participation of Africa in International Institutions and Organizations;
·     Reinforcement of Institutional capacity in the African Union; and the
·     Cooperation of Africa with other partners in the world.

On the theme of “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development” the Decision of the Assembly called on all Member States to advance the youth agenda and adopt policies and mechanisms towards the creation of safe, decent and competitive employment opportunities by accelerating the implementation of the Youth Decade Plan of Action (2009-2018) and the Ouagadougou 2004 Plan of Action on Employment Promotion and Poverty Alleviation.

The Decision was informed by the reality the 62% of the total population of Africa was below the age of 35, with 20 million young Africans arriving in a labour market that is not ready to receive such a high number of people seeking employment. The general call was for African leaders to continue their efforts for the creation and promotion of proper conditions for better support and response to the needs of the African youth.

The objective, it was agreed, will be to channel the youth’s energy, enthusiasm and resources to development issues and to improve inter-generational understanding and cultural diversity for sustainable development.

In his intervention statement on this theme, President Jacob Zuma said “the youth embody the future of the continent and therefore have a role to play in pursuit of its integration agenda”. President Zuma further said that “given the challenges of illiteracy, unemployment, lack of skills, under-empowerment, irrelevant education, lack of access to capital, poverty, diseases, including HIV and Aids and forced migration, it is important to mobilize the youth in our respective countries to focus on the task of development and nation building”.

In the context of peace and security in the Continent, President Zuma has lauded the AU’s Framework Agreement on a political solution to the crisis in Libya, concluded at the Summit, saying it takes the continent a step forward in the implementation of the AU Roadmap towards a political solution in Libya. Copies of this Framework Agreement were formally given to representatives of the Libyan Government and the Transitional National Council (TNC) of Libya for presentation to their respective constituencies.

The President has emphasized that the central role of the AU in bringing a political solution to the Libyan crisis was a matter of fact and that it is significant that the AU Ad-hoc Committee’s Communiqué was discussed at length and adopted with consensus.

The main elements of the AU’s Framework Agreement are the following;
·     The Libyan parties to commit to an immediate start with negotiations and commitment to the AU Roadmap which calls for an immediate suspension of hostilities; a humanitarian pause; a comprehensive ceasefire; a national reconciliation; arrangements relating to national reconciliation and the transition; as well as the agenda for democratic transformation;
·     A national dialogue to be held under the auspices of the AU High-Level Ad-Hoc Committee and the United Nations;
·     A ceasefire to include the lifting of the siege imposed on cities and cantonment of all troops, militias and armed elements from all parties; an end to all attacks against, and abuses of civilians; release of all prisoners and other individuals detained; and facilitation of unrestricted and unhindered access to the civilian population by all international humanitarian agencies and workers;
·     The arms embargo to remain in place on the entire Libyan territory, until the completion of the transitional period and the holding of negotiations; and
·     The parties to request the UN, working closely with the AU and the League of Arab States to establish and deploy an effective and credible international mechanism to inter alia, monitor the respect of the ceasefire and compliance of all parties; provide protection to the civilian population within its mandate; and undertake related tasks, including support for the transition and peace-building.

On the coming into being of a new State of South Sudan and his scheduled presence at its inauguration on July 9, 2011, President Jacob Zuma has commended the leaderships of both Khartoum in the person of President Al Bashir and Juba in the person of President Kirr for demonstrating their selflessness by putting the welfare and future of their respective citizenry before everything else.

He said it was also commendable that both sides respected the outcome of the Referendum, and noted that the issue of the Abyei region remained a security concern which requires careful attention. The President committed South Africa’s readiness to support the birth of this State, by amongst others extending a hand in the establishment of their institutions of governance.

On Africa’s Preparation for COP17/CMP7, the Decision of the Assembly commended all the African Ministers, Negotiators as well as the Commission for efforts made to uphold the African Common Position on Climate Change. The Decision also urged all Member States to attend and participate in COP17/CMP7 in large numbers and individually and collectively provide support to the Presidency of South Africa in order to ensure the success of the Conference

Enquiries: Clayson Monyela on 0828845974 and Zanele Mngadi on 082 330 1148.

Issued by the Presidency

Pretoria