African passport 'launched' at AU summit

Rwanda - Outgoing African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has managed to tick at least two big items off the to-do list she had in her term at the helm of the continental body.

In her last opening speech at the AU’s heads of state on Sunday, she said the one item the AU managed to tick off its “email list” was the issue of the body funding itself. 

The other was the free movement of people and trade on the continent, which came a step closer to being realized with the launching of the concept of the African passport at the summit.

The AU is 76% funded by donors, “or what we euphemistically call partners”, Dlamini-Zuma said.

She said the new model of requiring member states to contribute 0.2% of their import levies to the body would bring it a “step closer to dignity”.

At the opening ceremony Dlamini-Zuma also handed over the new African passport to AU chairperson, Chad president Idriss Déby, who kissed the passport with a giggling Dlamini-Zuma looking on. 

He then shook her hand for longer than was strictly necessary. 

The launch of the passport was mostly symbolic, and member states were tasked to go back and work out the logistics of producing these. 

Government leaders and diplomats would be the first to get these passports, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame, whose country was hosting the mid-year summit, was the first to get a passport. 

Dlamini-Zuma received praise from various speakers, with the Pan-African Youth presenting her with its peace award.

The heads of state were locked in a closed caucus meeting all of Sunday morning debating on the United Nations Security Council reforms, and they are expected to elect a new AU Commission chairperson later in the day. 

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