Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made the appeal for Africa to gain more power at the UN during his opening remarks at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
The first African Union (AU) summit in two years got underway on Saturday with a demand that the continental body receive a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
The AU, which was formed 20 years ago to foster better cooperation across the continent, is meeting over two days in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss recent coups and attempted power grabs. Also under discussion are the coronavirus pandemic, Islamist militancy, climate change, and ongoing conflicts, such as the one occurring in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
In his opening remarks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also called for the African Union to be given a more significant voice at the UN’s international peace and security organization. Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 before escalating an armed conflict with Tigray rebels in 2020, serves as the host of the summit.
“Today, more than seven decades after the creation of the United Nations, Africa remains a junior partner without a meaningful input or role within the system of international governance,” Abiy said at the outset of the pandemic-delayed talks.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain and France all have permanent seats on the Security Council, meaning that they can veto any drafted resolution.
UN renews plea for ceasefire in Tigray
Ethiopia’s conflict between Tigray rebels and Abiy’s forces was also high up the agenda for most nations in attendance. The war that began in November 2020 has drawn in outside involvement, created a dire humanitarian situation and threatened stability across the region.
Another major concern was an outbreak of coups that have struck governments in Africa, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan and Guinea. A coup was attempted in Guinea Bissau this week but ultimately failed.
AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called the trend “a disaster.”
The bloc has suspended Burkina Faso and Sudan in the wake of military takeovers.
The AU chair said the security situation called for “more active inter-African solidarity.”
Palestine representative opposes Israel’s accreditation
Israel-Palestine tensions also bubbled over at the summit, with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh calling for the AU to withdraw Israel’s accreditation.
Last year the AU Commission chair accepted Israel’s observer status accreditation, which divided opinion among member states.
Shtayyeh took the opportunity to call on the body to revoke last year’s decision. “Israel should never be rewarded for its violation and for the apartheid regime it does impose on the Palestinian people,” he said.
Faki defended the move saying that Israel’s accreditation could be “an instrument in the service of peace.”