The President of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Sam Kuteesa, has called for a reform of the UN Security Council citing the present process and membership as undemocratic.
“This reform must be acted on very soon”, he said.
Mr. Kuteesa was addressing the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government which opened this morning at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The Summit is running under the theme “2015, year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. President Yoweri Museveni and over 50 leaders from African countries are attending the conference.
Mr. Kuteesa also appreciated the efforts of the international and regional bodies for their support and solidarity towards African countries that have suffered from Ebola in the past year and called for more release of funds towards the struggle against the disease.
The African leaders at the meeting chose the continent’s oldest head of state, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, as AU chairman for the coming year.
The 90-year-old was elected to replace Mauritania’s Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz in the role, which rotates between the continent’s five regions.
“By electing me to preside over this august body, with full knowledge of the onerous responsibility that lies ahead, I humbly accept your collective decision,” Mugabe said as he was appointed at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Africa’s longest-serving leader is still viewed with respect by many on the continent after he led Zimbabwe to independence; however, he is subject to travel bans in the European Union and US.
Mr Mugabe, during his speech drew applause when he denounced colonialism.
He also spoke of the “scourge of terrorism” from Boko Haram and said there needed to be “lasting solutions” to the issue in Nigeria and Cameroon.
The UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, commenting on the theme said that women, who form more than half of the world population, are the center of our lives. “We have much more to do to unleash the potential of our women; they need more protection and help in the fight against poverty, maternal mortality, illiteracy and female genital mutilation. When it comes to human rights, make more lasting goals for women,” he said.
The UN Secretary General called for efforts to realize sustainable peace and security in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and Central African Republic and pledged the UN’s support and partnership with the AU and IGAD achieving this goal.
“I welcome the recent agreement between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Machar and urge South Sudan’s leaders to reach an immediate and inclusive power sharing arrangement with a transitional government. They must make sure that the agreement is implemented in order to end this man made tragedy,” he said.
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, who condemned terrorism and extremism, repeated his call for unconditional and immediate release of girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. “Let us work together and make this world better, I count on your leadership and commitment to do this,” he told AU leaders.
A minute silence was also observed in memory of the late Zambian President Michael Sata who died last year.