Photo: Presidency

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the African Union (AU) chairperson, has called on countries in the world to shun racism and intolerance.

Ramaphosa made the remarks when taking part in a virtual conference of the 1st Extraordinary Inter-Sessional Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

He said the pandemic is a global public health emergency and it needs a global response.

“We therefore need to promote multilateralism as the most effective instrument to ensure that all countries, big and small, rich and poor, are accommodated and their voices heard,” he said.

Ramaphosa reaffirmed full support for the initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) together with many governments, non-profit organizations and industry leaders to speed up the development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that they are distributed speedily and equitably across the globe.

The WHO has been instrumental in supporting national efforts to combat COVID-19, Ramaphosa said.

“Global solidarity demands that we also stand as one against all forms of racism and intolerance” while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramaphosa added.

“As African countries, we continue to reiterate our full support for the WHO and its Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus. We fully support the initiative by the WHO together with many governments, non-profit organisations and industry leaders to speed up the development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that they are distributed speedily and equitably across the globe.”

He added: “We believe that no country must be left behind.  In this regard, we call for economic sanctions against Sudan and Zimbabwe to be lifted to provide the necessary space for these countries to devote their resources to the fight against COVID-19. This is a global public health emergency and it needs a global response.  We therefore need to promote multilateralism as the most effective instrument to ensure that all countries, big and small, rich and poor, are accommodated and their voices heard.”

He said the AU has strongly condemned the murder of George Floyd in the United States and shares the anger of millions in the U.S. and across the world.

Outrage over the death of unarmed African American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis has been growing across the United States, and now, beyond.

Floyd, 46, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes until he stopped breathing.

“As countries that have borne the brunt of racial discrimination over centuries, we need to work together to end the scourge of racial violence, wherever it occurs. By working together, we can build a peaceful, just, healthy and prosperous global community,” said the AU chairperson.

“Global solidarity demands that we also stand as one against all forms of racism and intolerance. Through the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union has strongly condemned the murder of George Floyd in the United States of America and shares the anger of millions in the United States and across the world.”

(Compiled by Inside Politics staff with additional reporting by Xinhua News Agency)

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