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AU leaders seek end to gun violence

February 9, 2020

Africa remains beset by conflict and terrorism, the continent's leading diplomat has told an African Union summit headlined "Silencing the Guns." Moussa Faki Mahamat warned that some member states even faced "collapse."

Äthiopien AU-Gipfel in Addis Abeba | Cyrial Ramaphosa übernimmt Vorsitz von Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Image: AFP/M. Tewelde

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told leaders of the 55-member bloc, which held its annual summit in Addis Ababa, that new crises in Cameroon and Mozambique had joined lingering conflicts in Libya and South Sudan.

The continent was hampered, said Mahamat, "by "terrorism, intercommunal conflict and pre- and post-election crises." 

Read more: UN's Guterres warns of global 'wind of madness'

He noted, however, progress in Central African Republic and Sudan, after its civic uprising and reiterated the AU's intention to find "African solutions to African problems."

Ramaphosa takes over AU chair

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa — taking over the AU chair from Egyptian ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sissi — said he planned two summits in May focused on conflict resolution and the other on African continent free trade.

Mahamat, originally from Chad, said that root causes of African conflicts were poverty and social exclusion.

Full UN support for AU initiative

Visiting the summit, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said silencing the guns was about human rights and sustainable development, and the AU's initiative had the UN's full support.

Reacting to AU complaints about being sidelined on Libya, Guterres spoke of a "new framework of cooperation" to overcome AU vagaries over how to fund its inclusion in peace keeping missions.

On Friday, the International Crisis Group think-tank had urged the AU to finalize an agreement that would see the UN financing 75% of peacekeeping missions, when endorsed by the UN Security Council.

Guterres said African peacekeeping contributions must be adequately and predictably financed.

Merkel visited Ramaphosa

Last Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting Ramaphosa in Pretoria, said African nations must be involved in shaping a solution in Libya.

Libya, a migration conduit, has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muamar Gadhafi and is now a battle zone for proxy forces, pitting General Khalifa Haftar against the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli.

Ramaphosa had told Merkel he expected a "much clearer African position" on Libya to emerge after the Addis Ababa summit.

Mediation bid for South Sudan

In a bid to jumpstart fresh mediation efforts on South Sudan, Ramaphosa on the summit's eve Saturday met separately with President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

The rival leaders face an extended February 22 deadline to form a power-sharing government after two previous failed attempts.

South Sudan's civil war, which began in 2013, has left 380,000 people dead and millions of people in dire poverty.

Also on Sunday, the AU announced that the Democratic Republic of Congo would assume the bloc's rotating chair in 2021, after South Africa.

In mid-January, France President Emmanuel Macron hosted West African heads of state from the sprawling Sahel region, including Chad and Mali, where extremist fighters move with little challenge.

Äthiopien Addis Abeba Gipfeltreffen der Staatschefs der Afrikanischen Union
February 9, 2020: photo line-up at AU summit focused on 'Silencing the Guns'Image: picture-alliance/AA/Palestinian Prime Ministry Office

ipj/shs (AFP, dpa)