The Executive Council of the African Union (AU) is holding its 5th Ministerial Retreat at the AU Headquarters here today for frank discussions among the ministers regarding the continent’s priority programmes.

Speaking at the opening of the retreat Thursday, Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu said the two-day meeting would be valuable as it would provide the ministers an opportunity to sit down with the leadership of the the AU Commission to review achievements as well the challenges encountered in the implementation of key programmes.

The meeting will also give the participants the opportunity to deliberate, among other matters, on how to deepen democratization and good governance on the continent, he added.

Outgoing AU Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the Executive Council had played a key role in providing guidance on the evolving of Agenda 2063 — the AU’s 50-year development strategy — through its strategizing and monitoring role since the first retreat in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, in January 2014.

More than 50 elections were held in African countries the past four years in which the majority were peaceful and fair with improved elections management, she added.

She said growing mass protests seen across the continent were signs of political space, but at the same time the violence associated with some protests was worrisome.

“On the global level, there are also many opportunities and challenges, and Africa must continue to position itself in such a manner that advances its agenda,” she added.

The 5th Ministerial Retreat of the Executive Council will discuss about elections, democracy and effective and responsive governance; draft commodities strategy; and update on the implementation of Agenda 2063 and integration, it was learned.

Meanwhile, the chairperson announced that the first debate among candidates seeking to succeed her as Chairperson of the AU Commission would be held Friday.

Ethiopia has taken the initiative to broadcast the debate to all member states of the AU to promote the spirit of Pan-Africanism.