Benin’s President Elected New African Union Chairmanإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi was elected the African Union Chairman Sunday, taking over the one-year post from Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, officials said.
"I want to congratulate the new chairman of the African Union... Boni Yayi," said Obiang, the outgoing chairman, speaking after the official announcement at the AU summit meeting in the Ethiopian capital.
"I have no doubt that with your great leadership ... you will conduct the work of our Union towards our agenda of peace and prosperity. I wish you all success in your efforts," Obiang added.
Yayi, an economist who took office six years ago of the small West African nation, said he accepted the post with humility for the "high responsibility."
"I wish to express my gratitude with respect and appreciation to the heads of state we have here for the confidence they have in my regard," Yayi said after the vote.
"We shall continue to work hand in glove to ensure that we consolidate all that we have achieved so far," he added.
Obiang, summing up his year in office, accused "external powers that wish to perpetuate their influence" of manipulating Africa.
"Africa should not remain indifferent to external interference. Africa should not be questioned with regards to democracy, human rights, governance and transparency in public administration," he declared.
The summit, held at a sleek new Chinese-built AU headquarters inaugurated Saturday in Addis Ababa, officially focuses on boosting "Intra-African Trade," the meeting's theme.
"Growth on the continent has remained robust -- many observers consider that Africa is on the verge of economic take-off. However we are only at the beginning," said AU Commission head Jean Ping in an opening speech.
"We should speed up the economic integration in the continent. African countries do not trade enough among themselves."
However, leaders are expected to hold key sideline talks about the crisis in war-torn and famine-struck Somalia, as well as efforts to resolve a deadlock between Sudan and South Sudan over a bitter oil dispute.