President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi has been elected as the new Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2021,The election took place Saturday during the ongoing 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, holding virtually under the theme: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.
The President of the DRC took over the baton of command from Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, who has concluded his term as the Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2020.
Given the prevailing context of the COVID19 pandemic, the handing over ceremony between the incoming and outgoing Chairs of the African Union was organized in a hybrid mode, both at the Conference Center of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the newly elected Chair of the Union, President Tshisekedi was taking part physically, in the solemn handing over ceremony at the podium of the AU Mandela Hall, in the presence of H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), while the outgoing Chair Ramaphosa, was taking part virtually all the way from South Africa.
On behalf of the outgoing President of the Union, the symbols of the Union were presented physically to the incoming Chair by the AUC Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, while the flag of the African Union was handed over virtually by the South African President, H.E Cyril Ramaphosa.
The composition of the new bureau of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union for 2021 was thereafter presented as follows:
Chair of the African Union – Democratic Republic of Congo, (Central African region); First Vice President – Republic of Senegal, (West Region); Second Vice President – Union of Comoros, (Eastern Region); Third Vice President – Arab Republic of Egypt, (Northern Region) and Rapporteur – Republic of South Africa, (Southern Region).
In his acceptance speech, President Tshisekedi said it is a unique privilege for the Democratic Republic of the Congo be given this opportunity as Chair of the African Union at a symbolic and highly significant moment when “we are celebrating the sixty years of the disappearance of a worthy son of the Congo and Africa, Mr. Patrice Émery Lumumba, who strongly believed in the great destiny of Africa. He did not hesitate to organize, in August 1960 in Kinshasa, then Leopoldville, the last Congress in the history of the great movement of Pan-Africanism. On June 30, 1960, shortly before his tragic death, he declared [I quote]: “Africa will write its own history and it will be in the north and south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity”.