The African Union (AU), during its 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly Heads of State and Government held here in Addis Ababa on July 3 and 4, 2017, passed a decision to commemorate two former Ethiopian leaders and recognized their outstanding contribution for the establishment and implementation of the principles of the continental block. The two Ethiopian former leaders that have been recognized are Emperor Haile-Selassie I and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The Summit commenced after leaders from across the continent flew to Addis Ababa to attend the conference themed: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”.
On the sidelines of the Summit Prime Minister Hailemaraim Dessalegn and minister of Foreign Affairs Workeneh Gebeyehu (PhD) were busy discussing several bilateral and multilateral issues with leaders from African countries and their representatives.
In regards to the commemoration of the two former Ethiopian leaders, the PM extended his gratitude to African leaders for recognizing Ethiopia’s contribution.
Emperor Haile-Selassie has been recognized for his tireless effort to bridge the gap between the two groups (the Monrovia and Casablanca groups) during the establishment of the erstwhile Organization of African Unity (OAU), decolonization of Africa and for the realization of the OAU.
Likewise, Meles Zenawi has been recognized for his contribution during the transformation of the OAU to the AU and for his proactive engagement in the establishment of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) told The Reporter that following the decision, an area has been identified to erect a statue of Emperor Haile-Selassie I on the grounds of the AU.
Similarly, the Integrated Services Center, a building which is now under construction and is nearing completion, will be named after Meles Zenawi. The Integrated Services Center is a three storey building that is stretched on 5,000sqm plot. The center includes among others things, an accreditation facility, a cafeteria and the AU archives and exhibition center.
It can be recalled that during the 50th year anniversary of the OAU/AU many Ethiopians and other pan-Africanist were at odds with the AU over the decision by the heads of state to erect a statue of former President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, to commemorate his contribution for the establishment of the OAU.
At that particular moment in history, many severely criticized the decision and were saying that Haile Selassie’s contribution for the establishment of the OAU were gigantic compared to Nkrumah’s and hence the recognition should have been given to Haile Selassie first, if not they should be equally recognized. [Reporter]