Posted by: africanpressorganization | 9 January 2009

Good will message of his Excellency Jean Ping Chairperson of the African Union Commission On the occasion of the new year 2009



Good will message of his Excellency Jean Ping Chairperson of the African Union Commission On the occasion of the new year 2009


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 9, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Message of his Excellency Jean Ping


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you today to this Press Centre, which indeed, rightly belongs to you, and wish you a very blessed and bountiful New Year, a Year full of joy and happiness. We pray that in this New Year, full success may crown all your endeavours, both personal and professional.

You are well aware that Africa comprises a sixth region, namely, the Diaspora. We take this opportunity to also wish you journalists of the Diaspora and, by the same token, journalists across the world, all the best. We equally pray that you carry out your mission in a climate of safety, security and freedom, conditions that you do not often enjoy.

At this particular time of the year, all my thoughts go to you 138 colleagues (according to the latest figure published by Reporters without Borders) who, in various parts of the world, have been deprived for their freedom, the freedom to exercise their profession, the freedom to inform. I am not just playing up to this particular occasion, but let me say that without you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, a lot of truth would remain hidden; without your work, the voice of the African Union Commission would hardly be heard beyond the four walls of our premises.

Our meeting of this day undoubtedly marks the beginning of a New Year. However, it also coincides with a happy occasion which you have for long been awaiting: your permanent accreditation cards with the African Union are right now in your possession. They were handed to you this very morning upon your arrival. I am aware that you have been yearning for these cards for quite some time. It has now become a reality, an accomplished fact. I am convinced that the Year 2009 will symbolize a significant turning point in the relations that the Commission has nurtured with the Media up to now.

I would like to place this year under the sign – change, openness, visibility and transparency:

Change, because we would really like to see some change in the nature of our relations with all our partners, who for sure include representatives of the Media.

Openness, because we will approach and work with you in confidence, and we ask you to do the same with us in order for us to ensure the success of our mutual endeavours.

Visibility and Transparency, because these are the marks that we have agreed to imprint on the activities of the Commission, as we have no doubt in our mind that our drive towards unity is shared by each and every one.

We are fully aware of the role of the Media in any democratic society. This is why we have made information our top priority and, indeed, the priority of our priorities. For quite some time, the Commission has been engaged in one action after another to accompany the work of journalists and provide them with the means and resources they require to discharge their mission. To this end, we agreed with our European partners to establish a Pan-African Media Observatory. This tool, the usefulness of which cannot be gainsaid, is expected in due course to address not only the working conditions of journalists in the Continent but also the observance of professional ethics and code of conduct.

More specifically, it is our intent to ensure that the Pan-African Media is afforded greater room for manoeuvre in media management. We shall also ensure that the Media has access to financing sources that do not hamstring them; sources of financing that do not muzzle them. This is a prerequisite that we must not ignore because it is absolutely necessary to build a credible and reliable climate for the media; a media climate which should be the foundation and, indeed, the bulwark of democracy. We can achieve this because we have been able to see it on several occasions developing in the Continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This time of the year is the most appropriate to take stock of the year ended and to draw the necessary lessons.

On our assumption of the helm of affairs in the Commission in April last year, we put in place four fundamental pillars which we have defined in our Strategic Plan 2009 – 2012 to guide our actions and enlighten our vision. Our cardinal objective is to ensure that the peoples of Africa are, with every passing day, a little bit more protected from fear and need. We have, in each area of activity, instituted projects that will enable us enhance our performance and build our hopes for a better future. This credo is at the very core of our Strategic Plan and embodies the very essence of our notion of integration. The pillars in question are:

Peace and Security. Clearly, if we are to go by the trend in the past ten or twenty years, we can aver that the number of conflicts in Africa has seen significant reduction. We are however still faced with very many crises and so many situations of latent crisis. This pillar will enable us prevent crisis and to move more speedily to resolve those crises that unexpectedly emerge in our Continent. It also constitutes a set of structured tools and action platforms which will give mediation, consultation and dialogue the place they rightly deserve. The pillar will further enable us to tackle the root causes of conflict and to consolidate the foundations and main frame of sustainable development.

The situation we witnessed in 2008 in Guinea and in Mauritania does not augur well for our Continent. Two coup-d’etat in the space of six months, including the unsuccessful coup in Guinea Bisao; these two countries were suspended from the activities of the African Union pursuant to Article 30 of our Constitutive Act and the Lomé Declaration, pending their return to constitutional legality. Despite all this, it is my fervent hope that greater calm and normalcy will prevail in Africa and in the world at large in 2009.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, while wishing you the best of luck, I must say that I can understand your interest in the coverage of issues of peace and security, given the fact that the year had been rich in such events. Be that as it may, permit me to say that, however important and crucial these events might have been, they were not the only issues that needed to be followed up in the Commission. Seven other Departments of the Commission also devoted their best efforts to Africa’s development and their contributions are equally crucial for achievement of lasting peace and stability in the Continent. Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, my wish is that this New Year, you accord greater attention to the other sectors in our portfolio. We are convinced that without sustainable and comprehensive human development, they will be no security, no stability and no peace; and even where these exist, they will be ephemeral and intermittent.

This takes us to the second pillar of our activity, which are: development, integration and cooperation. Improving the living conditions of the peoples of Africa is a prerequisite for development and successful conduct of the process of integration towards which we are all striving. It is our intention, also under this pillar, to unify our Continent. Some quarters hold the view that our Continent will become the major victim of globalization. However, we can reverse this trend if only we are able to speak with one voice. It is my sincere hope that 2009 will witness the emergence of one and indivisible Africa – a precondition for our third pillar, which is Shared Values.

Under this pillar – Shared Values – we intend to strengthen the universal values of democracy, good governance, human rights and gender equality. We need to fine tune and develop these values. You are all well aware that the nature of conflicts has changed in Africa. Nowadays, conflicts are most often triggered by non-respect for the decision of the ballot box or by issues of governance. We have to bolster and consolidate this pillar if we are to attain our objective of a peaceful Africa.

Our fourth and last pillar is building the capacities of our institutions. It is our intention that the Commission would become the melting pot of excellence and performance; and it is for this reason that we have engaged in this process, a process that will enable us correct the structural errors and malfunctioning which, in the past, had dealt a severe blow on the image of our Commission and stunted its development. This we can do by transforming our work methods and realigning our structures.

Once again, I wish you all the best in 2009. We invite you to another meeting before the end of January when we shall be having our monthly press conference that will focus, as appropriate, on the 12th Session of the Assembly of our Union.


Thank you for your attention.

God bless Africa and bless the Year 2009!





SOURCE : African Union Commission (AUC)


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