Chairperson of the African Union to visit Russia, Ukraine

Monday May 23 2022
Macky Sali

Head of Africa Union (AU), Macky Sali. PHOTO | COURTESY

By AFP

Dakar, Senegal 

Senegalese President Macky Sall on Sunday said he would travel to Russia and Ukraine soon on behalf of the African Union, whose presidency he currently holds.

The trip had been due to take place on May 18 but did not go ahead due to scheduling issues and new dates have been put forward, Sall said at a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

He had received a mandate from the African Union to undertake the trip, for which Russia had extended an invitation, he added.

"As soon as it's set, I will go of course to Moscow and also to Kyiv," Sall said.

"We have also accepted to get together all the heads of state of the African Union who want to with (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, who had expressed the need to communicate with the African heads of state."

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"That too will be done in the coming weeks."

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has hit African economies hard due to rising cereal prices and fuel shortages, has met with a divided African response.

In early March, Senegal abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution -- overwhelmingly adopted -- that called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. 

However, a few weeks later it voted in favour of another resolution demanding Russia halt the war.

Nearly half of African nations abstained or did not vote in the two resolution votes.

Also Read: Tanzania abstains again as UN votes to suspend Russia

Sall also said Senegal would be "ready" to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the continent seeks to wean itself off Russian energy sources.

Along with neighbouring Mauritania, Senegal hopes to exploit gas and oil deposits found in the Atlantic in recent years.

Sall has estimated LNG production starting in December 2023 and reaching 10 million tonnes per year in 2030.

The Senegalese leader said he had asked Germany to help Senegal develop future projects. Scholz said discussions should continue "in an intensive manner" because it was "in our mutual interest to achieve progress".