Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,(New Ziana)-The 33rd African Union (AU) Summit opened on Sunday with calls from global leaders for implementation of concrete strategies to foster unity, development and “silencing the guns” by ending conflicts on the continent.
From Somalia, Western Sahara, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, the Sahel region among others, leaders called for a strong push towards implementation of joint AU and United Nations processes that are already underway to find lasting peace on the continent.
“African solutions to African problems” ran as a key theme the leaders emphasised the need to tackle conflict.
Years of conflict, fighting and the growing menace of terrorism are blamed for taking holding back development in Africa, the majority of whose people are still living in abject poverty.
The AU summit, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also attending, is running under the theme “Silencing the guns: Creating conducive condition for Africa’s development.”
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa who took over as the chairman of the AU for 2020 from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt (pictured), said his country would host mid-term extra ordinary summits in May that will specifically focus on silencing the guns as well as trade promotion under the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
“It is to us that the task has fallen to build an Africa that is prosperous and at peace with itself,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the extra-ordinary summit on silencing the guns will look at emerging situations on the continent’s peace and security land scape.
“The summit must come up with real actions that we as Africans must take to end conflicts and deal with acts of terrorism that are raging in many countries and regions,” he said.
“We must also deal with the actions of other countries outside our own continent that are fighting proxy wars and fuelling on-going conflicts on our continent.”
In his departing message as AU chairman, President Sisi said security and the continent’s development were interlinked.
Sisi stressed on unceasing efforts towards the continent’s integration.
“Achieving the integration of the continent cannot be achieved if we do not promote infrastructure development,” he said.
AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki said terrorism was “threatening the collapse of certain member states” and must be urgently addressed, while calling on African states to support each other to end conflict.
He said African solidarity was key as the continent battles with all forms of challenges from conflict to natural disasters.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for more concerted international support for Africa’s efforts to end conflict and promote sustainable development.
“Silencing the guns is not just about peace and security but also sustainable development and human rights,” he said.
Guterres said “Africa had long been a victim of globalisation that has not benefitted all nations equitably,” calling for “fair globalisation.”
Empowerment of women and youths as well as uptake of digital technologies to push for inclusive growth that will decisively deal with poverty were cited as critical for guaranteeing a better future for the continent.