By: Yassmine ElSayed
CAIRO, Feb. 10 (SEE) – President Abdel Fattah El Sisi officially takes over the post of ceremonial head of the African Union today, a post rotates between the five regions of the continent.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led an active, reformist tenure as African Union chair, passed the baton to Egypt at the start of a two-day summit in Addis Ababa expected to focus on security issues.
According to AFP, multiple crises on the continent will be on the agenda of heads of state from the 55 member nations, the summit will also focus on institutional reforms, and the establishment of a continent-wide free trade zone.
The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) was agreed by 44 nations in March 2018, but only 19 countries have ratified the agreement, with 22 needed for it to come into effect.
The single market is a flagship of the AU’s “Agenda 2063” programme, conceived as a strategic framework for socioeconomic transformation.
Cairo is backing the initiative, but analysts say it will be less likely to focus on the financial and administrative reforms pushed by Kagame.
Egypt is however expected to focus more on security, peacekeeping and post-war reconstruction, issues closely tied to the AU’s 2019 theme of “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons”.