G20 grants permanent membership to African Union
The Group of 20 (G20) members agreed on Saturday to grant permanent membership to the African Union (AU) in an effort to make the group more representative.
The agreement was reached at the inaugural session of the two-day G20 summit held in New Delhi during the weekend.
Amid applause from other G20 representatives, Azali Assoumani, president of the Union of the Comoros and current AU chairperson, then assumed his seat representing the 55-member-state continental body for the session.
Created in 1999, the G20 is a main forum for international cooperation in the fields of finance and economy. It previously comprised 19 countries plus the European Union .
The AU, whose previous designation was "Invited International Organization" of the G20, now has the same status as the EU.
"Being accepted as a permanent member of the G20 is good news for AU voice to be present and strong on policy-setting at the global level," said Steve Patrick Lalande, director of the partnerships management and resource mobilization directorate of the AU Commission.
"We have huge expectations that the voice of the African people will be heard, so that development is well promoted worldwide," Lalande said.
"I'm seeing something really great happening," Mathapelo Monaisa, a member of the South African delegation to the G20 summit, told Xinhua, while expressing appreciation for China's role in supporting the AU's joining of the G20.
China is the first country that explicitly expressed its support for the AU's membership in the G20. At the China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping again stressed that China would work actively to support the AU's full membership in the G20, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press conference on Thursday.
China supports the AU in playing a bigger role in global governance, said Mao.
"As partners in the BRICS, we would like to see other members being able to have more representation in various multilateral platforms, and China's support for the AU's G20 membership is important," Monaisa stressed.
"We both favor multilateralism more than anything else for a better world, and this is why we need to support each other," said the South African delegate.