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New York

Fri, 24 Jan 2020 01:43 GMT

African Union Leaders Unveil Statue of Ethiopia's Last Emperor, Elect New Chairperson


Elias Meseret

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 14:00 GMT

African leaders gathered in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for the bi-annual African Union summit, unveiled a commemorative statue of Ethiopia's last emperor, Haile Selassie, on Sunday February 10th. The statue has become the second of its kind to be erected inside the continental body's headquarters in Addis Ababa after one of Ghana's first leader, Kwame Nkrumah.

The statue of the emperor has become the first in Ethiopian soil since he was mysteriously killed in 1975. Many Ethiopians believe he was suffocated to death whilst he was sleeping.

Haile Selassie played a crucial role when the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union, was established in 1963 in Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, African leaders have elected Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as Chairperson for one year. The election came following the end of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's one-year tenure at the helm of the continental body.

Previous to his election on Sunday afternoon, the rights group Amnesty International stated African countries need to ensure that the Egyptian leader's Chairmanship does not undermine the African Union's human rights mechanisms.

Amnesty's North Africa Campaigns Director, Najia Bounaim said Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has demonstrated a shocking contempt for human rights during his time in power. "Under his leadership the country has undergone a catastrophic decline in rights and freedoms. There are real fears about the potential impact his chairmanship could have on the independence of regional human rights mechanisms and their future engagement with civil society."

African leaders who assume Chairmanship positions have the ability to set agendas and push causes.

The Egyptian leadership has been absent from African Union meetings since 1995 when an assassination attempt was made on the life of former leader Hosni Mubarak.