Abuja 7th July 2017.- The African Union (AU) Assembly has appointed Liberian president and erstwhile chairperson of the authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a member of its Panel of the Wise in charge of the western region of the continental body.
At the Ordinary Session 29th Assembly of the AU which ended on July 4th 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the AU also appointed Dr. Speciosa Kazibwe (Uganda) and Mr. Armah Moussa (Egypt) into the panel to be responsible for the Eastern and Northern regions respectively while Mrs. Catherine Samba-Panza from Central African Republic was named for Central African Region just as former President of Namibia Mr. Hifikepunye Pohhamba will represent Southern Africa Region on the panel. They are expected to serve a three-year tenure.
In arriving at the decisions, the AU Assembly endorsed in conformity with Article 11 (2) of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) Protocol, the recommendations made by the Chairperson of the Commission regarding the appointment of the new members of the AU Panel of the Wise.
The Assembly further decided that the outgoing members of the Panel of the Wise shall become members of the Group of Friends of Panel in line with the Assembly’s decision (AU/Dec (XV) and the related report of the Chairperson of the Commission.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had also delivered her last address during the 29th Assembly in which she described the upcoming polls in Liberia as ‘the first in decades in an environment that has witnessed eleven years of uninterrupted peace’. She expressed profound appreciation for the regional and sub-regional support that brought Liberia to where it is today. The West African country heads for the polls in October 2017.
Paying tributes to ECOWAS in particular and other international bodies, she said “Much is owed to ECOWAS, to our African Union brothers and sisters and the United Nations Mission in Liberia for contributing to peace-building and consolidation with our economy largely restored; our debt sustainable and our nation full of hope and promise,”
She acknowledged the AU’s support in the fight against Ebola stressing that the region was faced in challenging times with the Ebola virus while the solidarity of the African Union was phenomenal. She also highlighted the role played by some 855 African health workers from various countries across the continent who provided support in the three most affected countries including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Stressing that it as a privilege to be a part of the AU which has grown from strength to strength in exploring strategies and tackling the challenges to accelerate development, President Sirleaf expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to give closing remarks and speak to the distinguished AU body for the last time in her capacity as President of the Republic of Liberia. (ECOWAS)