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The Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has been sworn in as chairman of the African Union at a ceremony in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images

Robert Mugabe assumes African Union helm with familiar rallying cry

February 1, 2015

 The Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has been sworn in as chairman of the African Union at a ceremony in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images The Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has been sworn in as chairman of the African Union at a ceremony in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images[/caption] Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s 90-year-old president, has assumed the chairmanship of the African Union (AU) with a call for members to improve infrastructure and tackle climate change, conflict and Ebola, and with a familiar rallying cry that Africa’s wealth belongs to Africa and not “imperialists and colonialists”. The veteran leader, who was elected head of the union on Friday, replaces President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, of Mauritania. “By electing me to preside over this august body, with full knowledge of the onerous responsibility that lies ahead, I humbly accept your collective decision,” Mugabe told the AU summit in Addis Ababa. “I do so, confident that I can always count on your full support and cooperation in the execution of the important mandate you have given me.” The president, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, said the focus of his tenure would be on “issues of infrastructure, value addition and benefication, agriculture and climate change in the context of Africa’s development”. The continent’s underdeveloped roads, railways and air and sea networks, he said, were hampering efforts to improve trade, investment and tourism. “We need to continue – and perhaps redouble – our current collective efforts in this sector. “Given that the continent is rich in mineral resources – and resources should be seen to contribute more meaningfully to Africa’s development – they are our wealth and we must guard against their being exploited for the benefit of others.”

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