Your Excellency, President of the ACP Council of Ministers, Hon. Phandu Sekelemani, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana;
Excellencies, Members of the Bureau of the ACP Council of Ministers;
Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers;
Your Excellency, Chairman of the Committee of Ambassadors, Ambassador Otsile Outlule;
Your Excellency, the Dean of ACP Ambassadors and Heads of Mission, Ambassador Sagbo;
Excellencies, Ambassadors and Heads of Mission of ACP Countries;
Honourable Out-Going Secretary-General of the ACP, Dr Ibrahim Ibn Chambas and the Distinguished Members of Staff of the ACP;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me, on behalf of the Southern Africa region of the ACP start by congratulating you Mr. Chairman, Hon. Minister on your election as President of the ACP Council of Ministers, and at the same time assure you of our unequivocal support and cooperation in the successful execution of your mandate.
The announcement of the resignation of the Secretary-General earlier this year, came as a shock to the entire ACP group. All the more so that this announcement came on the hills of what most, if not all of us considered to be one of the most successful Summits of our grouping, the 7th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
Through the Sipopo Declaration, the 7th Summit not only articulated a coherent message about the key issues of the moment, but it also laid a solid foundation from which to elaborate the group’s repositioning and trajectory within the framework of the ongoing discussion on the Future Perspectives of the ACP. Indeed, the Malabo Summit gave renewed impetus to the group, by affirming its relevance and providing the elements for its revitalisation and rejuvenation.
The departure of Dr Chambas leaves us with a great sense of loss, but it also fills us with great sense of fulfilment in that one of our own has been entrusted with the responsibility of resolving one of Africa’s intractable conflicts, the Darfur conflict. Dr Chambas, whom I personally knew in his previous capacity as the Executive Secretary of Ecowas, is no stranger to conflict resolution, peace-making and peace-building in Africa. He was instrumental in the processes that brought peace to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, and in the restoration of stability in Guinea and Guinea Bissau. It therefore did not come as a surprise that he was chosen to direct multilateral and African efforts aimed at bringing durable peace to the restive region of Darfur in the sister republic of Sudan. In this regard, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Chambas and wish him well in his new assignment, and further assure him of our usual cooperation in the successful execution of his duties.
Without doubt, the resignation of Dr Chambas presented a challenge to the organisation, in the sense that both the Rules
of Procedure as stipulated in the Georgetown Agreement and Modalities and Criteria for the Appointment of the Secretary-General and Assistant General-Secretaries adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2009 do not make provision for the procedure and measures that would apply in the eventuality of the resignation of the Secretary-General. These documents outline the procedure and criteria that would apply under normal circumstances of transition from one Secretary-General to another on the basis of the established ACP principle of rotation.
In spite of their wisdom, the Founding Fathers never foresaw a situation such as the one we are confronted with today. In the absence of a specific provision(s) germane to this peculiar circumstance, we have sought to use the procedure and criteria that would apply for the filling in of the position of the Secretary-General under the normal circumstances, with the interpretation that the region from which the incumbent was nominated will be accorded the honour nominate candidates in accordance with the applicable procedure referred to above, since the incumbent did not complete his term. Further that, as a consequence of this, the incoming Secretary-General will be completing the term of his predecessor, and not starting a new term.
The Southern Africa region would like to recall, and at the same time reaffirm the sanctity of the spirit that underpins the Rules of Procedure contained in the Georgetown Agreement and the Modalities and Criteria for the Appointment of the Secretary-General and Assistant General-Secretaries. We believe that adherence to the principle of good corporate governance will greatly enhance the standing of our group. As a proponent of a rules-based global system, the ACP should inspire confidence and at all material times be seen to be applying its own rules consistently.
However, presented with the unprecedented, exceptional and peculiar circumstances we have outlined above, we believe that is important that we apply our minds as dispassionately as possible and place the unity and cohesion of our group above all else. At this critical juncture, and faced with an existential challenge, the ACP cannot afford the luxury of a long-drawn out process of finding a substitute for the Secretary-General, a leadership vacuum and the attendant uncertainty and instability in the organisation. A vacuum at this stage would put a serious damper on the post-Malabo momentum. Were we to be indecisive on this matter we would usher in a period of organisational paralysis, instability and uncertainty, which the group can ill-afford. Swiftness and speed is therefore of the essence!
As we have stated earlier, the incoming Secretary-General is completing a term and not starting a mandate. His swift assumption of duties will ensure that we do not lose the momentum. He will literally have to hit the ground running! Of course the Committee of Ambassadors and the various Brussels-based structures, including the Sub-Committees will have to play a its role in helping the new Secretary-General to implement the Sipopo Declaration and guide the organisation to its much anticipated seminal Summit in 2014.
We draw an enormous amount of satisfaction and comfort in the knowledge that the incoming Secretary-General is a well- accomplished individual with a distinguished record of exceptional service in throughout his professional and political careers. The Honourable Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, who as we know served as Ghana’s Minister of Employment and Social Affairs, and most recently Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation, has displayed immense passion and zeal for issues of development, and has acted as spokesman of developing countries previously in multilateral fora. He brings the necessary seniority to the job, is eminently qualified and well-respected in international circles. We therefore believe that his presence in the organisation at this critical juncture will greatly enhance its stature and ensure continuity and stability.
Going forward, and in light of the circumstances we currently face as well as with a view to organisational renewal, we believe that it is important that the group undertake a review of the Georgetown Agreement and the Modalities and Criteria for the Appointment of the Secretary-General. This should be done within the framework of the ongoing discussion on the repositioning of the organisation. In this regard, we support the recommendation of the Bureau that Council charges the Committee of Ambassadors with the responsibility to discuss this matter and make recommendations as appropriate.
Finally, without prejudice to the Georgetown Agreement and the Modalities and Criteria for the Appointment of the Secretary-General, and in the interest of the continuity, the unity and cohesion of the group, as well as stability in the Secretariat, we pledge our support to the recommendation of the Bureau and urge Council to appoint Hon. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni as the new Secretary-General of the ACP, to complete the term of the outgoing Secretary-General, with effect from 1 April 2013 until 2015.
I thank you for your attention.