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African solutions needed to silence the guns

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Nigerian President and now African Union (AU) representative for the Horn of African region, Olusegun Obasanjo when I met him earlier this year in Midrand, South Africa. Obasanjo played a leading role in brokering a peace deal between warring factions in Ethiopia. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

African solutions needed to silence the guns 

While there has been a sharp increase in conflict across Africa in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the good news is that Africa is trying to find African solutions to address Africa’s problems. 

By Leon Louw, owner and editor of WhyAfrica 

When representatives from the Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a peace pact in Pretoria, South Africa, on 12 November 2022, they did so in the presence of an all-African mediation team, led by former Nigerian President and now African Union (AU) representative for the Horn of African region Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Nairobi declaration, signed between the two warring factions a week later in the capital city of Kenya, was an immense victory for the AU mediators and will bring an end to the brutal two-year long conflict that has killed and displaced thousands of people in the region.

Regional and world leaders hailed the peace agreement and Obasanjo said the deal marks a new dawn for Africa and for Ethiopia.

“It is time that Africans speak with one voice and that we find African solutions for African problems,” said a jubilant Obasanjo at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand, where he addressed parliamentarian from all corners of the continent one day after the peace agreement was signed. The PAP’s sixth parliament had their first sitting of 2022 in October and WhyAfrica was there to cover proceedings during the three-week event.

“If we could negotiate a peace agreement in Ethiopia, why can we not do it in other parts of Africa as well?” Obasanjo asked. “Africa can find solutions for our own security issues. Moreover, we can do it anywhere in Africa,” he said.

But Obasanjo warned that peace making is an extremely complex, slow, and gradual process. The peace agreement in Ethiopia was first proposed more than eight months ago, and it took all this time just to decide on a venue, and eventually we all agreed that the final details of the roadmap will be chiselled out in South Africa,” Obasanjo explained.

Challenges to silencing the guns (African solutions needed to silence the guns)

According to the President of the PAP, Chief Fortune Charumbira from Zimbabwe, good progress has been made in bringing about peace across Africa, but there are still significant challenges that could derail the effort to silence the guns by 2030. Charumbira spoke to WhyAfrica in a face-to-face meeting on the last day of the PAP sitting.

“Despite the PAP acknowledging democracy as a key enabler of peace and security in Africa, there has been an alarming regression in democracy as seen through instances of unconstitutional changes in government, the manipulation of constitutions to extend term limits and reports of dubious and highly disputed electoral processes.

Moreover, over the last two years there has been a worrying resurgence in violence, insurgency, and terrorism attacks,” Charumbira told WhyAfrica.

According to Sherif El Gabaly, Chairperson of the Permanent Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution at the PAP, these events and a general absence of peace will derail the United Nation’s Social Development Goals (SDG’s).

“As a parliament we need to put our best foot forward if the desire for peace and security is pursued. PAP should be an ally to the AU to combat civil strife. We need closer collaboration between the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the PAP in a strategic partnership,” said Gabaly.

Roadmap only achieved through partnerships (African solutions needed to silence the guns)

Ambassador Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa, Chairperson of the PSC of the AU concurred and said that the AU’s Roadmap of silencing the guns by 2030 will only be achieved through a partnership between the AU and PAP.

“The PSC has serious concerns about the threats to security, coups, and terrorism in countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, and Mozambique. While we have made a lot of progress in resolving conflict in some countries, in others there are a lot of challenges. Over the last two years we had to suspend four member states because of internal strife (Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, and Sudan). We need to do more to address these concerns,” said Mkusa.

Charumbira said that members of the PAP need to go beyond dialogue and debate to ensure peace in Africa.

“We need to take action to give credence to the AU’s call to silence the guns,” said Charumbira. Silencing the guns is a flagship initiative of the AU’s Agenda 2063 that aspires to end all wars, conflict, and gender-based violence, and to prevent genocide.

“We need to talk frankly. The resurgence of unconstitutional changes in government, acts of terrorism, and an increase in the number of coup d’états across the continent is a concern and a serious issue. Free and fair elections is the only vehicle to achieve peace and stability,” said Charumbira.

“Despite all member states in African countries acknowledging the principles of democracy, and free and fair elections, there are a number of member states that continue to violate all the protocols they’ve signed and agreed to,” added Gabaly.

Military coups a serious concern (African solutions needed to silence the guns)

According to Lebogang K. Mabotho, Deputy Presiding Officer Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) at the PAP, the recent spate of unconstitutional changes and coups in several African countries is a big concern. “These actions open up old wounds, and creates uncertainty and instability,” said Mabotho.

Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner Political Affairs, Peace, and Security at the AU, said that the only way to find solutions is if the AU works together with organisations like the European Union (EU), and all 54 African countries.

“Moreover, we need African solutions for African problems,” she said. “Quality leadership, democratic institutions, free elections, independent media and an active civil society are just some of the key enablers of peace and stability in the world,” said Adeoye.

Escalation of fighting in DRC (African solutions needed to silence the guns)

Although the landmark peace deal in Ethiopia is good news, the escalation of the security situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have reopened old wounds. Rwanda is inextricably linked to supply chains and the extraction of resources in North Kivu, and a regional solution is critical. In response to the instability, caused by a resurgence of rebel activity, both Kenya and Uganda have dispatched troops to arm wrestle the bandits into submission, while peace talks have not delivered the expected results.

When WhyAfrica spoke to parliamentarians on the side lines of the PAP sitting, they unanimously condemned the actions of the conflicting parties and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

According to South African PAP member Pemmy Majodina, the Luanda and Nairobi Peace talks, initiated by the AU and regional African bodies, needs to be respected, and its recommendations implemented.

“We call upon the immediate withdrawal of all parties supporting rebels in order to create an enabling environment for the mediation process to take place,” said Majodina.

According to John Bideri from Rwanda, the Nairobi Peace Map, which is now being pursued, provides numerous avenues for dialogue. “We support all efforts to promote peace and stability in the DRC and in Africa,” said Bideri.

“Our solutions need to be holistic. As members of the PAP, we need to resolve problems politically. In our peace building efforts, we need to pursue dialogue and use national and international peace initiatives available to us,” Bideri added.

Jaynet Kabila from the DRC said that her country supports every effort to bring about peace in the east of the DRC. “It is critical that we address the root causes and negotiate a lasting and durable solution,” said Kabila.

In his closing address to Africa’s parliamentarians, Obasanjo said that Africa has performed poorly when it comes to ensuring peace and stability on the continent. “That has got to change. Africans need to lead the peace discussions, set the tone of discussions, and determine the narrative. We have the voice, and we have the power. Now we just need to use it,” he concluded.

African solutions needed to silence the guns 

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African solutions needed to silence the guns

 

 

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