African Union (AU) chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Wednesday said the AU had strongly condemned the murder of George Floyd in the United States and shared the anger of millions in the US and across the world.
The 46-year-old unarmed black man was killed on camera last week after being arrested by police in Minneapolis.
Ramaphosa addressed the first Extraordinary Inter-Sessional Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), which looked at tackling the challenges of COVID-19.
He outlined the AU’s mitigation calls for debt repayment holidays and the lifting of sanctions.
Ramaphosa said AU commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat issued a statement on behalf of the African Union condemning Floyd’s murder.
“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,” he said.
The three former Minneapolis police officers who were present when their colleague knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes are set to face charges.
Prosecutors also upgraded the charges against the main former officer involved, Derek Chauvin, to second-degree murder.
Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over Floyd’s death, which triggered protests across the US and around the world.
DEBT RELIEF FOR INDEBTED COUNTRIES
Ramaphosa also called on the organisation to support the AU’s call for a two-year debt standstill and a plan for the restructuring of both private and bilateral debt, and special drawing rights allocations.
“We further support the appeal to the International Monetary Fund for special drawing rights allocations to provide additional liquidity to countries in need,” Ramaphosa said.
The AU chairperson also reiterated his call for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and Sudan.
“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,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the AU supported the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, as well as joint efforts towards development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that they were distributed speedily and equitably across the globe.