By Carien du Plessis
JOHANNESBURG/NEW DELHI (Reuters) -The Group of 20, comprising the world’s richest and most powerful countries, will grant membership to the African Union, sources said on Thursday.
The move would give the African Union, a continental body of 55 member states, the same status as the European Union – the only regional bloc with a full membership currently – up from its current designation of “invited international organization”.
An AU official told Reuters that the group was being made a permanent member. The official did not want to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the subject.
A top government official from South Africa, which is a G20 member, said that the language for the induction of AU into the G20 bloc was still being discussed but it could be firmed up by Friday.
The South African official, who did not want to be named before the decision was made public, however said that there was still a possibility that someone might veto the resolution.
It was not immediately clear if the decision would be announced at the annual G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi over the weekend.
Two Indian sources told Reuters that membership for AU was expected to be formalised only next year, when Brazil takes over the presidency of G20 from India.
There were no objections against the move from any of the members, one of the Indian sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity citing government rules.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to the leaders of the G20 nations in June proposing that the AU be given full, permanent membership of the bloc at the upcoming summit in the Indian capital.
In an article published across Indian and international newspapers on Thursday, Modi wrote, “Our presidency has not only seen the largest-ever participation from African countries but has also pushed for the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20”.
The G20 currently comprises 19 countries and the European Union. The members represent around 85% of global GDP, more than 75% of global trade and about two-thirds of the world population.
South Africa, which has supported the admission of the AU, declined immediate comment ahead of the Delhi summit. South African presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said: “We wouldn’t comment now until the official announcement or post the summit.”
Countries including Germany, Brazil, South Africa and Canada have also voiced support for African Union membership.
(Reporting by Carien du Plessis in Johannesburg, Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru and New Delhi bureau; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)