International collaboration remains the best hope to combat issues like climate change and political division, which are getting harder to solve, the United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his New Year message.
He pointed to Yemen as an example, where recent breakthrough talks; “have created an opportunity for peace”, and also an agreement between warring factions in South Sudan.
“When international cooperation works, the world wins,” Mr Guterres said in a video released by the UN and obtained by the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The UN Secretary General said: “In 2019, the United Nations will continue to bring people together to build bridges and create space for solutions. We will keep up the pressure and we will never give up”.
President Xi Jinping of China said the country will continue to open its doors to the world in 2019 but will do so with its sovereignty in mind.
“As we open our eyes to look at the world, we are faced with huge changes, changes not seen in 100 years,” Mr Xi said in a New Year address.
“No matter how the international situation changes, China’s confidence and determination to safeguard national sovereignty and security will not change.
“China’s sincerity and goodwill for maintaining world peace and promoting common development will not change,” the Chinese President stated.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel pledged to get her country more involved on the international stage, stressing; “Complex global problems such as climate change, migration and terrorism cannot be solved alone.
“We build on what our predecessors have left us and shape the present for those who come after us.
“My guiding belief is that we will only master the challenges of our time if we stick together and collaborate with others across borders”.
Ms Merkel, who has given up leadership of her Christian Democratic Union party and will step down as Chancellor in 2021, also pledged to increase spending on defence and aid.
The United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK achieved a lot in 2018, and urged politicians to back her embattled Brexit deal, two weeks before a vote in parliament and under four months before the scheduled exit from the European Union.
Ms May said allowing the Brexit deal to go through will allow the government to focus on solving domestic problems.
“The employment rate is at a record high. Our debt is starting its first sustained fall in a generation. And the number of people in absolute poverty is at a record low.
“If we come together in 2019, I know we can make a success of what lies ahead and build a country that truly works for every one of us,” she stated in the New Year message
From France, President Emmanuel Macron said he has three wishes for 2019: “truth, dignity, and hope” and called for national unity, and used the occasion to criticise elements of the recent anti-government protests.
Mr Macron said while he understands people are upset, some protesters seeking to speak “in the name of the people” are undermining his government.
“Some take as a pretext that they speak in the name of the people – but what people? Where? How? he said.
The French President said; “In reality, they are nothing but a megaphone for a crowd full of hatred who rail against elected representatives, forces of order, journalists, Jews, foreigners and homosexuals. That, quite simply, is the negation of France.”
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin in the New Year message called for national unity, amid ongoing tensions with western countries and sanctions by the West against Moscow.
Mr Putin emphasised the need to rely on internal resources to improve living standards, and for citizens to act as “a strong, united team.
“We know for certain that we can achieve the best for ourselves, for our families, for the home country, only with our own efforts and well-organised collaboration,” he said.
The Chadian President Idriss Deby, in the New Year message also pledged to ensure that the long-delayed legislative and local elections in the central African state would be held in the first half of 2019.
“The year 2019 will be marked by the holding of legislative and local elections,” President Deby stated.
President Deby is also hoping for an end to the country’s financial crisis, which was caused mainly by the slide in the price of crude oil in 2014-2015; stressing that, the “coming year will be pivotal in the battle to structurally transform our economy”.
President, Paul Biya of Cameroon focused on the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country.
He pledged to dialogue with persons of goodwill to end the crisis, or instruct the army to neutralise the rebels, if his call for dialogue went unheeded.
In an address that focused on reviewing the progress made by his government, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, outlined achievements made in growing the economy, empowering the youth and fighting crime.
He also emphasised ‘the issue of African integration in order to guarantee our prosperity’, explaining that goods and services produced in Uganda need a ‘big market’ that will absorb them.
‘‘Therefore, in 2019, I hope to work with the fraternal peoples of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan to consolidate the unity of East Africa,” President Museveni said.
The South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, called upon all eligible citizens to register to vote in the forthcoming elections.
“We urge all our people, particularly the youth, to register to vote, and exercise their responsibility as patriotic citizens of our great nation,” he said.