ADDIS ABABA (Halbeeg News)-Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sisi has taken over as the new chair of the African Union on Sunday following a meeting by the heads of the African states in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Egypt assumes the top seat of the African body for the first time since its establishment in 2002.
The post rotates annually between the five regions of the continent.
President Sisi takes the wheel from Rwandan President Paul Kagame who focused on creating an Africa wide free trade zone during his tenure.
The Egyptian leader is expected to focus on the fight against armed groups on the continent and rebuilding efforts of countries recovering from conflict.
“Terrorism remains cancer that affects African nations and steals the dreams of our people, and we must identify and combat those who fund terrorism activities on the continent,” Sisi said in a speech to the AU assembly shortly after his appointment.
Under Cairo’s leadership the bloc will prioritize mediation and “preventive diplomacy” as one of the critical mechanisms for promoting peace and security on the continent, he added.
Egypt was kicked out of the 55-member state Pan-African body in 2013 following a Sisi-led military coup.
“There is no doubt that Egypt will take our union forward decisively to new and greater heights,” the Rwandan leader, Paul Kagame said as he handed over to Egyptian president.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International expressed concern that Sisi’s leadership of the bloc could harm the continent’s human rights records.