President William Ruto will not be personally attending the Russia-Africa summit.
State House Spokesman Hussein Mohamed on Wednesday announced that instead, President Ruto will be represented at the summit by organs of the Africa Union.
“This decision aligns with the stance of African Heads of State and Government, who believe that in order for Africa to engage in meaningful discussions with global partners, partnership summits organized by external parties need to be reviewed to establish an effective framework for African Union partnerships,” Hussein said in a statement to the press.
The second summit will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday and Friday and follows the inaugural Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi in 2019.
With the decision, President Ruto walks the talk he made at the Pan-African Parliament Summit on Climate Policy and Equity in South Africa in May, when he said moving forward, African leaders should have a joint engagement with presidents of other global powers.
Ruto at the time noted that African leaders are often only allocated one and a half minutes to contribute, which shouldn’t be the case.
“While we are invited to those summits, we are given limited time, then aligned, all over 50 of us, for photos, and unfortunately that’s the only thing we go back home with,” he said.
“We want to be effective, not just taking pictures, having dinner and then we go home. Good people, we have food in our countries,” Ruto said.
For joint effort and to be effective, President Ruto said African leaders had agreed that they will in future be represented as one tray by the African Union.
“Any other invitation must respect the rules of our continent, anybody who wants us to take them seriously, must respect our infrastructure,” he said, urging members of the Pan-African Parliament to operate at the same level as the European Parliament to allow the AU to operate at the same level as the EU
“We cannot afford not to act together,” he said.
A month earlier in April, President Ruto expressed his displeasure with how African leaders are treated when invited for such meetings.
“We have these meetings, Africa-US, Africa-Europe, Africa-Turkey, now we are waiting for Africa-Russia and Africa-Japan. We have decided that it is not intelligent for 54 of us to go and sit before one gentleman from another place… Sometimes we are mistreated, we are loaded into buses like schoolchildren, and it is not right,” the President said.
The AU Assembly in its Decision 762 of February 2020, decided that, “The African Union/African Continent shall be represented at the statutory meetings of partnership between the African Union/African Continent and a partner country by the members of the Bureau of the Assembly of the Union, the Chairpersons of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Chairperson of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) of AUDA-NEPAD and the Chairperson of the AU Commission”.
Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is the Chairperson of the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee of AUDA-NEPAD, while AU Commission is chaired by Moussa Faki.
On the RECs front, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is chaired by DRC President Félix Tshisekedi, East African Community is headed by Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye, while ECOWAS is led by Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu.
Others recognised by the AU are the Arab Maghreb Union (Secretary General Taïeb Baccouche of Tunisia), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Al-Sisi, Egypt), the Community of Sahel–Saharan States (Beninese President Yayi Boni), the Economic Community of Central African States (Ali Bongo, Gabon) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (President Ismail Guelleh, Djibouti).
Members of the Bureau or the Executive Council are foreign ministers or such other ministers or authorities as are designated by the governments of member states.
In this regard, Hussein said, the President will be represented in accordance with Decision 762 and that he has informed AU Chairman and Comoros President Azali Assoumani accordingly.