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Kenya's Ruto calls for stronger, financially autonomous A.U. at Mid-Year Meeting

This photograph shows a general view during the 5th mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union, at the United Nations (UN) offices in Gigiri, Nairobi, on July 16, 2023   -  
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SIMON MAINA/AFP or licensors


African leaders gathered Sunday (July. 16) in Gigiri, Nairobi County for the African Union's fifth Mid-Year coordination meeting.

The summit aimed among other things to address critical issues of African integration and division of labour.

The meeting was led by Kenya's President. William Ruto called for a reform of the AU focusing on the body's financial autonomy.

"The pan-African movement has always been about sovereignty and agency," the leader said.

"First and foremost, chronic dependence even on well-meaning partners is inconsistent with the aspiration of independence, sovereignty and agency. And I therefore believe that we must take seriously the recommendations that have been made towards making our organization an organization that stands on its feet, and an organization that is funded by us."

According to A.U. figures, less than 40% of Member States pay their yearly contributions to the institution.

A piece on the body's website titled _"_African Union sustainable funding strategy gains momentum" broke down the institution's2020 budget as follows:

US$157.2 million to finance operational budget of the Union ; US$216.9 million will go into the program budget and US$273.1 million will finance peace support operations.

"Peace support operations will be funded by member states and international partners. Of the total budget, 38% is to be assessed on Member States while 61% will be from partners. The operating budget will be fully funded by Member States while the programme budget will be funded 41% by Member States and 59% solicited from international partners," the document read.

Debt burden

President Ruto pointed to the burden of debt many countries on the continent carry, championing a fairer financial system. 

A UN report found that, African nations are disadvantaged borrowers compared to the wealthiest European nations.

"The UN secretary general himself has said that our continent pays anywhere up to 8 times more than our brothers and sisters elsewhere do. It is only fair that we have a financing mechanism that treats everybody equally."

The focus of the 5th Mid- Year Coordination Meeting was the AU theme of the year “Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.

The Regional Economic Communities, the Regional Mechanisms and AU Member States attended the meeting which ended on Sunday. They convened under the AU theme of the year Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.

The President of Comoros Azali Assoumani, who currently chairs the Union, was also in attendance.

Also present were Bola Tinubu (Nigeria), Abdel Fattah (Egypt), Macky Sall (Senegal), Ismail Guelleh (Djibouti) and Ali Bongo (Gabon) among others.

The summit had been preceded by the Ordinary Session of the Executive Council.

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