South African minister of foreign affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addresses the UN General Assembly at the United Nations September 29, 2008 in New York. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Outgoing AU chair Jean Ping gave the gavel to Dlamini-Zuma during a ceremony at the union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ping had held the position since 2008.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, who attended the ceremony, wished Dlamini-Zuma good success, but warned that her tasks will be arduous.
In her inaugural address, Dlamini-Zuma pledged to work for “a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa.” After praising Africa’s ancient civilizations, Dlamini-Zuma spoke of Africa’s troubled centuries of slavery and colonialism, and then lauded post-colonial economic gains and peaceful transfers of power.
“In spite of this laudable progress, we must also acknowledge that there have been some difficulties and setbacks with pockets of instability and conflict,” Dlamini-Zuma said. “It is therefore our responsibility as governments, as citizens, as regional bodies to ensure that the democratic process is irrevocable and to pledge ourselves to work for its success.”
Dlamini-Zuma vowed ‘to spare no efforts’ to try and resolve the conflict in Mali and the Sahel region she said poses a threat to spread.
“Drawing on the lessons learnt from recent conflicts on the continent, we will take appropriate measures to improve cooperation and coordination with the United Nations,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press via thegrio.com