Addis Ababa, Ethiopia hosted the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council ahead of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of AU Heads of States and Government taking place today.

The theme of the session was “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth”.

H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chad’s former Foreign Minister and the Chairman of the African Union Commission in his first address to the Executive Council focused on four issues: the priorities of the African Union, progress in institutional reform, the need to speak with one voice and the link between decisions reached and the need to implement them.

Mahamat called for the urgent need for Africa to take charge of its own peace and security, stating that traditional peace keeping methods have been shown to be wanting in the face of new forms of violence. Mahamat reiterated his commitment to continue visiting areas where violence is still the order of the day.

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With the theme of the session focusing on youths, Mahamat emphasized on the empowerment of women and the youth stating that, “it is an urgent requirement for any progress in the continent.”  “The expectations of the youth are as huge as they are urgent. African youth want results. They are thirsty for concrete actions,” he added.

Mahamat stressed on the importance of the voices of youths and women on the continent saying, “These are the social strata with the most pressing demands. Our meeting cannot ignore or minimise their voices. We must make decisions that translate this urgent social need into concrete action.”

Mahamat has visited Somalia, South Sudan, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin since taking office in March this year with a view of bringing peace and stability to these areas.

The charge for the AU to maintain its rank by standing as one body in unity for the purpose of credibility led Mahamat to his third point; the need to talk with one voice. He noted that whenever the AU presented a singular uncompromising front, “No international organization, no large or medium power in the world intends to act in Africa without the African Union.”

“This is not the first time that I speak about the serious dichotomy between our decisions and their execution. The only difference is that today I take the measure of the phenomenon by finding myself personally confronted on a daily basis with its contradictory manifestations,” he added.

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In the AU press release, on the issue of the relationship between AU decisions and the willingness to implement them, the Chairperson made proposals on how the challenge can be resolved. “Either we take decisions and adopt the texts to apply to them or we defer the adoption of these decisions until we are ready to implement them.”

In its deliberations, the Executive Council is expected to discuss the AU budget, review various reports, consider the draft decisions of the Assembly as well as prepare the agenda of the Assembly among other matters.