By Mary Karugaba
President Yoweri Museveni is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the African Union summit that started Sunday.
During the opening ceremony, President Museveni was hailed for his efforts, as the chairman of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), to ensure that the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not escalate.
Museveni was commended by the newly elected AU chairman who is also the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Dessalegn.
Hailemariam Dessalegn called for more assistance to the regional ICGLR initiative in order to address the complex security situation in the DR Congo, according to statement issued from State House Sunday.
The two day AU summit is under the theme "Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance", and is being attended by a number of African Heads of state and government.
Unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, tensions between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan, and efforts to build peace in Somalia, are also expected to be discussed at the summit.
Diplomatic sources were quoted also as saying that regional leaders, of DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, will meet today on the sidelines of the summit.
The Ethiopian Premier was elected Chairman of the AU for the next one year representing countries in the Eastern Africa Region. He replaced President Boni Yayi of Benin who was from West Africa.
"As the AU marks its golden jubilee in May this year, we must pay tribute to the generations of Pan Africanists and founding fathers of the OAU who strived to promote unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among the peoples of Africa and African States," Hailemariam Dessalegn said,
He said Africa can only unleash its potential for development and prosperity of her people in the prevalence of durable peace and stability on the continent.
President Boni Yayi thanked France for taking the lead in Mali to wrest that country from the threat of terrorists, a task he said could have been undertaken by the African continent using the ECOWAS force to restore democracy there.
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya announced that he was addressing the assembly for the last time as a sitting Head of state. He noted that Africa still faced challenges of peace and stability.
The President of Somalia Hassan Skeikh Mohamud thanked the African Union for the support to his country to bring back peace and stability. "Thank you Africa. Somalia is now with you not as a liability but as a partner," he said.
The summit was also addressed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, who lauded Africa for its efforts in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
He also said the UN would like to have a peace-keeping group to deal with the DR Congo conflict. He talked about the conflicts in Mali, the uneasy relationship between South Sudan and Sudan and Somalia.
Ban Ki-Moon praised the efforts of the African continent in its resolve to fight corruption. The Summit, ends today January 28.