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African leaders at the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Summit in Kigali │© African Union

African Union launches all-Africa passport

As the European Union threatens to unravel in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave, the African Union is pursuing a path of closer integration through the launch of a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states, reports Tolani Alao (NAN).

The long-awaited African Union (AU) passport was launched on Sunday, 17 July at the opening ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The Assembly is made up of heads of states and governments of the 54 member states of the AU.

The AU passport. Every African is expected to have one by 2018 and it’s expected to ease movement on the continent │© African Union
The AU passport. Every African is expected to have one by 2018 and it’s expected to ease movement on the continent │© African Union

The AU Commission’s Chairperson, Dr Dlamini Zuma, presented the passport to the Chairperson of the union, President Idriss Deby of Chad and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Zuma, in her address, said the passport was a landmark achievement of the commission and was intended to help with regional integration of people of the continent. She said Africa was full of hope, possibility and optimism and she was sure that the commission would achieve its aim of a better Africa. She, however, said a better Africa could only be achieved where peace and security reigned.

“As AU we have made the pledge not to bequeath violent conflicts, wars and genocide to future generations of Africans. That pledge demands our attention,’’ she said.

President Deby while declaring the session open, said that the retreat of the heads of states produced immeasurable results. He said this was because the continent had decided to take its destiny in its own hands by resolving to fully fund the activities of the union by contributing to it financially and to ensure peace and stability. He, however, urged member states to meet up to their responsibilities.

President Idriss Deby of Chad holds the new AU passport high │© African Union
President Idriss Deby of Chad holds the new AU passport high │© African Union

Deby said the recent conflict in South Sudan was a constant reminder of the times the continent was in and that Africa’s lack of possibilities to face difficulties was unacceptable. President Kagame in his welcome address said that the AU at its inception was precipitated on unity.  He said the concept of unity was what anchored human diversity in the bedrock of universal values. Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in his remarks condemned strongly the terrorist attack on Nice, France, saying it was unacceptable.

Abbas said Palestine was ready to cooperate with Africa since it had all the skills and competencies that would be beneficial to both parties.  The summit which has its theme as “Year of the Human Rights’’ with particular focus on the rights of women, begins today, 18 July.

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