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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Following the successful election of a new African Union Commission at the 28 Session of AU Assembly in January 2017, a handing over ceremony was held on 14 March, 2017 at the AU Headquarters to bid farewell and express appreciation to the members of the outgoing Commission as well as to welcome the newly elected officials. This ceremony was held in the presence of AU Chairperson, H.E. President Alpha Conde of Guinea together with  H.E. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and H.E President  Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia, the Prime Ministers of Swaziland and Algeria, H.E. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and HE Abdelmalek Sellal . Also in attendance were ministers in charge of foreign affairs, members of the diplomatic corps, the United Nations and other development partners.

In her farewell speech, the outgoing Chairperson of AUC, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma elaborated on some of the achievements under her tenure including the response to the Ebola Crisis, the advancements with putting women’s empowerment high on the continental agenda and on-going efforts towards a comprehensive reform of the African Union. She highlighted the need to strengthen the Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Africa (RCM) which serves as the main channel of cooperation between AUC and the UN system. She also called for the strengthening of relations between African ambassadors in Addis Ababa and their counterparts in New York and other places. She thanked the members of the outgoing Commission for their work in helping to carry Africa forward over the last four years.

On his part, the new Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat used the opportunity to outline his vision for the next four years. These included the need to implement structural reforms, informed by Summit decisions and President Kagame’s reform report, to efficiently and effectively implement the continental vision and deliver on the aspirations of the people; to silence the guns by 2020; to place women and youth at the centre of Africa’s development agenda; to focus on intra-African trade, including accelerating free movement of goods, people and services within the continent; as well as to strengthen Africa’s voice in the global arena.  He also underscored the need for strengthened partnerships and noted that the United Nations will be at the forefront of AU’s partnership. He expressed willingness to work with other partners such as the European Union with whom the AU was beginning intensive discussions on areas of mutual interest.