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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Egypt assumes rotating presidency of African Union

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in Addis Ababa to kick off Egypt’s presidency of the African Union and chair a summit of AU heads of state, according to a statement from Ittihadiya. Infrastructure and interconnection projects, the CFTA trade agreement, development financing and climate change will be high on the summit’s agenda.

El Sisi will meet Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today in Addis for their first three-way sit-down since the reformist Abiy became PM last April. Look for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which could threaten Egypt’s water supply, to be high on the agenda. Domestic media reports (here | here) suggest El Sisi will also meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi.

Background: Egypt’s membership in the AU was suspended in 2013 after the military backed a popular uprising against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Cairo’s membership was unfrozen the following summer. Egypt contributes about 12% of the AU’s annual budget; other top backers include South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria. Egypt’s presidency of the AU is earning some digital ink from AFP, while Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the AU to hold Egypt responsible for respecting human rights during its chairmanship.

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