Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - African countries should speak with one voice on the basis of a common position in defining the nature of international development cooperation for the next decades, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said here Thursday. Thanking African leaders for facilitating his work as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) over the past year, Hailemariam said international development cooperation “is currently perhaps the most important process”.
During his chairmanship, he said that he proposed the establishment of a committee of African heads of state and government to lead efforts in canvassing support for Africa’s development priorities in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.
The committee, chaired by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is due to submit the result of its work to the ongoing session of the Assembly for consideration and adoption.
According to Hailemariam, the past year witnessed enhanced cooperation and partnership between Africa and its strategic partners at various forums held in South America, Japan and the United States.
“These forums served as an excellent platform to advance our development agenda and further strengthen our partnerships with a view to ensuring mutual benefit and win-win cooperation,” he said.
The outgoing AU chair was, however, “deeply concerned by the emergence of new conflicts” on the continent, though the organisation had made encouraging progress in resolving some conflict situations.
“New conflicts, if not addressed urgently, will have a potential to seriously threaten our collective peace and security and undermine the gains that we have made in recent years,” he said, referring to the situation in South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR).
“It is incumbent upon us to help these two fragile states in restoring peace and stability and addressing their internal challenges,” said Hailemariam, calling on both protagonists in South Sudan (the government and its opponents) to “know that their problem cannot be resolved through the barrel of the gun”.
He urged the international community to put its weight behind the regional effort to find a peaceful solution in South Sudan.
Meanwhile, AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has announced the appointment of Mrs. Binta Diop of Senegal as Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security “to ensure that the voices of women and the vulnerable are heard much clearer in peace building and in conflict resolution'.
Dlamini Zuma told the AU Assembly at the opening of its 22nd ordinary session here Thursday that as women and children in the CAR and South Sudan face the devastation of conflicts, the rest of Africa should work together to effect lasting peace and security in these countries.