Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe has left the country for the 16th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
President Mugabe, who was accompanied by senior government officials, will join other Heads of State and Government at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia to deliberate on various issues affecting the African continent.
The summit will be held under the theme â€œTowards greater unity and integration through shared valuesâ€.The AU Peace and Security Council is also expected to convene a summit on the state of peace in Africa beginning this Friday, while the AU General Assembly will begin on the 30th of this month.
Issues to be discussed include the deepening political crisis in Cote dâ€™Ivoire which has resulted in Laurent Gbagbo and Allessane Ouattara both claiming to be the legitimate president of the worldâ€™s largest cocoa producer.
Tunisia, which has seen its long serving President Ben Ali fleeing to Saudi Arabia following weeks of protests against food prices and unemployment, as well as clashes in Egypt are expected to be top on the agenda.
The summit will also discuss the issue of the referendum in Sudan where preliminary results show an overwhelming desire by the people of Christian-dominated South Sudan to break away from the Muslim-dominated North.
As at all January summits of the AU, the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments is expected to begin deliberations with the election of the next chairperson to replace the incumbent Mr Bingu Wa Mutharika, the President of the Republic of Malawi.
The chairperson is chosen on the principle of geographical rotation with expectations that Central Africa will take over as chair.
The summit is also expected to issue a declaration on shared values.
Other issues that are expected to be discussed include the AU administrative, budgetary and financial matters and sound decision as well as the continentâ€™s political, social and economic issues, including troubled sports such as Somalia.
A number of sideline meetings such as the Committee of 10 Heads of States on United Nations Reform as well as the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS are among some of the crucial meetings to be held.
The ambassadors of the 53 member states of the AU who constitute the unionâ€™s Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) began meeting on Monday at the headquarters of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The PRC meeting is being held within the framework of the 16th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU.
President Mugabe was seen off at the Harare International Airport by Acting President, Cde Joice Mujuru, Defence Minister, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Minister of State Security, Cde Sydney Sekeramayi, Media, Information and Publicity Minister, Cde Webster Shamu, service chiefs and other senior Government officials.