ADDIS ABAB (Halbeeg News) – The 11th extraordinary summit of the African Union (AU) wrapped up here on Sunday with decisions to advance the institutional reform of the 55-membeer pan-African grouping.
The two-day summit, at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, agreed to advance the ongoing reform by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the AU Commission, by including the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) into the structure of the AU.
It also addressed the division of labor between the regional economic communities (RECs) and the AU, and discussed stronger sanctions against member states that fail to make their statutory financial contributions on time.
According to the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamt, making the AU Commission a more effective and performance-based institution and the issue of financial autonomy are at the heart of the reform.
The AU Commission is the secretariat of the union entrusted with executive functions, and the current commission is composed of 10 senior officials, including the chairperson, the deputy chairperson, and eight commissioners.
As part of the institutional reform process, the just-concluded extraordinary summit has decided to reduce the number of officials of the AU commission to eight.
The summit came up with a sanction regime against member states that fail to make their annual financial contributions to the continental body.
“Today we have adopted a set of sanctions including a total suspension of a member state that can no longer participate in the meetings of the assembly or any meeting of the African Union,” Faki told reporters on Sunday.
The chairperson also stressed that “the first responsibility of a member state is to pay its contribution.”
Noting that some member countries are committed to do so while others are presently evaluating “the most flexible way” to make their expected shares, Faki said the 55-member union “wants to make sure that the payment is being paid on time.”
“We can’t wait until the end of the financial year for payment to be made. There are sanctions,” Faki stressed.
In 2012, AU member states covered just 3 percent of the AU budget, which increased to 14 percent in 2017.
The AU also officially launched a Peace Fund on Saturday.