Participants pose for a group photo during the 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on June 30, 2017. The 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union kicked off on Friday in the framework of the 29th AU summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)
ADDIS ABABA, July 3 (Xinhua) -- The 29th ordinary session of the African Union (AU) summit kicks off on Monday at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Under the theme "Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth," African heads of state will deliberate on key issues including AU financing and institutional reform as well as peace and security on the continent in their two-day gathering.
In his opening remarks, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the new chairperson of the AU Commission, said that various activities have been carried out with the launch of AU reform, while commending President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is leading efforts of the reform, and his team for the commitment and contributions to the process.
The Chairperson reiterated that peace and security on the continent continues to be the great concern of the pan-African bloc.
"The situation in South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, the tense relation between Djibouti and Eritrea, the difficulties in implementing the peace agreement in Mali where the jihadist terrorism is very active and political situation in some African countries such as the DRC, Burundi, Guinea Bissau are the major concerns," said the chairperson.
He said that the AU remains determined to strengthen efforts to deal with peace and security issues by encouraging political solutions in regions where violence still exists.
He called for collaborative efforts, including from civil societies and the private sectors among others, to respond to the humanitarian needs caused by drought, famine, and terrorism in some parts of the continent.
The chairperson also underlined the need for Africa to speak one voice, which he said is yet another focus by the AU Commission.
The summit is the first being held since the AU has elected a new commission in January.