Three New Heads of State Join AU, As President Sirleaf Departs for Summit

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As the African Union (AU) begins its 23rd Ordinary Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, three newly elected Presidents on the African continent and UN Secretary General among others are expected to be in attendance.

The three leaders — Peter Mutharika of Malawi, José Mário Vaz of Guinea Bissau and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt — were recently elected in their respective countries in democratic elections.

President Peter Mutharika, a sibling of fallen President Bingo Wha Mutharika was elected in May, succeeding former President Joyce Banda, who made the total of two women among African heads of state. Her departure leaves President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the only female head of state in Africa.

President José Mário Vaz of Guinea Bissau is also coming on board following many years of instability characterized by coup d’états in that West African State.  With the help of the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), democratic elections were held and the country now has a new President.

President el-Sisi of Egypt also won a landslide victory recently following months of instability due to the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi.

The three leaders are expected to bring their expertise on the AU board and liaise with other African leaders to find solutions to political and social crises in their countries.

Special guests forming part of the opening ceremony today are United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy Brey among other unnamed invited guests.

The 23rd Summit of the African Union is being held under the theme, “Year of Agriculture and Food Security” with emphasis on “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture or Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods through Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development.”

President Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea is hosting the meeting, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Chairperson of the High Level Committee on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, is expected to deliver a report during the Summit.

The 23rd Summit of the African Union, considering the theme for discussion, is expected to consider the recently held African Development Bank Meeting on “50 years: The Africa we want.”

The discussion in Kigali highlighted Africa integration in terms of Agricultural investment, youth and empowerment, entrepreneurship, education, infrastructure, economic development and social integration.

In a related development, President Sirleaf returned to the country late Monday, June 23, 2014, where she participated in this year’s Kiel University’s Global Economy Prize ceremony in the Federal Republic of Germany.

During the ceremony, the Liberian leader was one of three recipients awarded the 2104 Global Economy Prize in the category of Politics from the Kiel Institute for World Economy and its partner organizations at an impressive ceremony on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Other winners of the award were Indian biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in the category of Business and U.S. professor Richard Thaler in the category of Economics.

The Global Economy Prize is intended to encourage people to find creative ways and means of coping with important global economic challenges. It has been awarded annually since 2005 by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, in close cooperation with the Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the City of Kiel to an economist, a politician, and a business person.

The prize is meant to honor those who have made outstanding contribution to establishing a society that stimulates people to assume personal and social responsibility for their own actions. By honoring the accomplishments of the prize recipients, the Kiel Institute seeks to promote the free market and its efficiency, social responsibility, and creative voices in the debate on the future of the global economy.

The winners of the Global Economy Prize are selected every year in a three-step procedure. First, the Kiel Institute’s Fellows are asked to propose a list of outstanding personalities belonging to the category of Politics, Economics and Business. Then the Prize Committee meets to produce a ranking of names on the list and finally, the candidates who have been selected by the Prize Committee to occupy the top positions in the ranking are nominated for the Global Economy Prize.

The head of Kiel Institute which is part of the University of Kiel, Dennis Snower, said the three “had helped us to understand how sustainability can evolve from globalization.”

Meanwhile, while President Sirleaf is away from the country, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Dr. Edward B. McClain, Jr., will serve as Chairman of the Cabinet in consultation with the Vice President Dr. Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. The Liberian leader is expected to return on Friday, June 27, 2014.

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