Silencing the guns

Tuesday, 2020-02-11 16:32:39
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African leaders have met at the 33rd annual summit in 2020. (Photo:
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NDO – African leaders have met at the 33rd annual summit in 2020, with great expectations while making substantial commitments. Though there are still many bridges to cross on the way to achieve the goal of “silencing the guns” on the continent, with initial the potential being achieved, especially in terms of economics, Africa is optimistic towards the continents future.

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) has recently opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, bringing together leaders from more than 50 African countries. The summit's theme “Silencing the guns” affirms Africa’s commitment to putting an end to any current wars or future wars breaking out and preventing any mass genocide. Therefore, one of the top priorities on discussion was how to resolve conflicts across the continent, as well as to promote the role of the AU in peace efforts within the region.

The summit is an opportunity for AU leaders to discuss and share solutions to not miss the deadline of 2020 in an effort to end violence across Africa, a goal approved in 2013. Ahead of the summit, addressing before African Foreign Ministers, Chairperson of the African Union Commission M. Faki once frankly outlined the gloomy picture of the continent's security state of affairs, with many security threats spreading out from Sahel to Somalia. Every day, there are civilians dying from unnecessary violence, houses are being destroyed, demonstrating the complex nature of the security situation in Africa. Despite some recent developments in Central Africa and Sudan, there are still conflicts in Libya and South Sudan, while Cameroon and Mozambique are also facing new crises.

In this context, analysts have emphasised that by overcoming internal conflicts and the lack of funding for peacekeeping missions, the AU can truly become the “main player” in the process of resolving conflicts in the region. South African President S. Ramaphosa, who took over the AU Chair from the President of Egypt A. Sisi, affirmed that the priority for AU is to play a bigger role in the peacemaking process, especially in Libya. The AU also needs to be more proactive, not “expecting” any input from powers outside the region. African countries need to act quickly and react more strongly to events that directly affect the continent.

The African solution to the continent's problems is what many leaders have already mentioned previously. In addition to encouraging to find and deal with the “root cause” of conflicts, Chairperson of the African Union Commission M. Faki also urged African leaders to pursue initiatives, which conclude combining military solutions with measures from other fields, especially in development. These are completely grounded suggestions, as African people increasingly understand the need to seize opportunities from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to promote industrialisation, integration, and prosperity in Africa. President of South Africa S. Ramaphosa asserted it is the realisation of the previous generations’ dream, so that rich resources of Africa serve the common interests of all Africans. According to him, South Africa will host an extraordinary conference on “Silencing the Guns” theme in May, thereby promoting the independence and autonomy of Africa.

Secretary-General of the United Nations A. Guterres emphasised the significant progress Africa has reached in terms of living standards, access to high quality essential services, such as education, health care, and food security, basic social services and infrastructure. However, according to the Secretary-General, these noteworthy progressions are still slow and uneven, especially in hunger eradication and poverty reduction, while pointing out that the biggest obstacle to overcome is still wide spread corruption. The UN Secretary-General asked African countries and the international community to step up the fight against corruption, reform the tax system, and improve the governance capacity of governments. He also called on African leaders to make priority policies for the empowerment of women, since the role of women on the continent has not yet met its full potential.

The new AU Chair affirmed the bloc's commitment to help reduce tensions in Libya and the Sahel region, as well as prevent and cut off “funding” for these conflicts. Expectations for a new phase of development have arisen from AU-prioritized goals in 2020, including strengthening continental solidarity, ensuring parallelism between political stability and economic development, resolving conflicts, and enhancing Africa's role in the political-economic map of the world.