Let me first of all express, on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, and on my behalf, how delighted we feel to be honoured with your presence here this morning for this 4th Ordinary and First Mid-term Session of the Assembly of the African Union. I would like to size this opportunity to welcome you all to Abuja and indeed to Nigeria. While in endowment and the hospitalities that characterize the Nigerian society as a reflection of Africa.
2. I will also like to recognize the presence of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, a distinguished African whose leadership of the United Nations in the past seven years has been a source of pride and great satisfaction to us all. I welcome other dignitaries as well as our international partners whose presence among us today is a further demonstration of their genuine desire to work with us for the development of the continent. On behalf of all of us, I hereby express our sincere appreciation for the support which our partners have been rendering to our Organisation especially in the search for peace and stability in Africa.
3. Your Ecellencies, in July last year, when the idea of mid term session of the Assembly was proposed, it was primarly to have an opportunity to review the implementation of our decisions at the July meeting as well as to keep track of the various conflict situations on our continent. However, developments since July 2004 have made it even more imperative for us to meet around this period to address certain issues of immediate importance and concern to us in Africa.
4. Your Ecellencies, after the 3rd Ordinary Session of this Assembly in July 2005, the High-level Panel constituted by the UN Secretary General released its report on United Nations reforms. The report covers and made recommandations on a wide range of issues of crucial importance to the effectiveness of the United Nations. Among these is the reform of the UN Security Council.
5. We understand that the Secretary General will be presenting to the General Assembly next March, his views on the panel's recommendations. It is, therefore, opportune that we consider the recommandations, especially those relating to the Security Council, so that we can make an input as others are engaged in doing. In this connection, we in ECOWAS have adopted a forward looking position in line with the current mood of the international community.
6. There were also other developments immediatly after our last session that deserve our immediate attention. There was the renewed escalation of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire while the situation between the democratic republic of Congo and Rwanda was threatening the stability of their region. On the other hand, there have been some cheering developments, especially in respect of the long standing North South conflict in Sudan. The comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Nairobi on January 9, 2005, provides the basis for a solution to that conflict, and if adapted can also resolve other conflicts in the Sudan.
7. The issues of food security, HIV AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, though they have been dealt with at previous sessions in the recent past, still deserve our urgent attention. Apart from the fact that the problems are still with us, we need to review our implementation strategies and plans of action in order to properly determine where we stand. You will also agree with me that it is the way to inform our citizenry of the progress of our collective efforts in these endeavors. It is against this background that we must identify the new dimensions that have not been adequately addressed in the existing decisions and declarations and which are capable of facilitating effective implementation and result-oriented plans of action.
8. Before I end this remark, I must commend the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassadors Permanent Representatives to AU, as well as the entire staff of the Commission under the able leadership of Dr. Alpha Oumar Konaré, for the dedication they have demonstrated towards the preparation of the various documents before us. These indeed, will definitely facilitate our delibertions and conclusions.
9. With these few remarks, I formally declare the 4th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African union, open. I wish you successful deliberation and i thank you all.