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DRC, migration, jihadis - flashpoints at African Union Addis summit

media Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the African Union Commission Flickr/CC/Chatham House/©Suzanne Plunkett 2017

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and mass migration are likely to dominate discussions as foreign ministers from the 55 African nations gather in Addis Ababa on Friday for two days of talks, ahead of the 29th summit of African leaders next week.

The official theme of this African Union (AU) summit is ‘investment in youth’, but other pressing matters on the continent from the DRC to mass migration are also likely to dominate discussions.

When commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahmat from Chad opens discussions on Friday morning, he was expected to congratulate members of the Union who are sticking to commitments of Agenda 2063, a continental development plan set out by the AU four years ago.

On paper the trends are encouraging – more children in full time education, fewer deaths from preventable diseases and accelerating economic growth.

Conflict in several countries

But flashpoints that often dog discussions at AU summits are likely to do so once again.

They include the ongoing fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram in the lake Chad region, an uptick in violence in South Sudan, Libya, Mali and Darfur.

The alarming numbers of Africans making the perilous trip across the Mediterranean is also of immediate concern.

On top of that, major reforms of the Union itself are on the table – including changes to how the AU is funded that are being pushed by several leaders, including current chairman and Guinean president Alpha Condé.

He wants all nations to implement a 0.2 percent levy on imports to fund the club that has for years been overly reliant on Western handouts.

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