By Hassan Isilow


African leaders expressed concern at more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 on the continent and greater than 26,000 fatalities, according to a statement Saturday by African Union Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa.

The statement said heads of state and government held a teleconference meeting earlier this week to assess progress in the fight against COVID-19, including the mobilization of international economic support.

“They cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic situation remains serious and urged Member States to exercise caution in the easing of restrictions on socio-economic activity,’’ according to the statement.

They “renewed their call for Member States to contribute towards the African Union COVID-19 Solidarity Fund, which is critical in the effective implementation of the Continental strategy,’’ said the statement.
Leaders endorsed the continent’s COVID-19 vaccine development and access strategy presented by the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“They called for the acceleration of African involvement in vaccine development, Africa’s access to vaccine supply, and the removal of barriers to vaccine delivery and uptake,’’ according to the statement that said Africa should take appropriate measures, as part of the strategy, to ensure that it secures timely access to COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.

The leaders also welcomed flexibility displayed by financial institutions and their disbursements to African countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also condemned the unconstitutional change in government in Mali, and called for an immediate, unconditional release of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, including members of the government.

Leaders demanded a swift restoration of the constitutional order in Mali and expressed full support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its sustained efforts in assisting Malian stakeholders to find a consensual, peaceful and lasting solution to the current crisis.

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