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Security: 'AU member states must lead efforts to end conflicts in Africa'

Africa needs concrete actions to put an end to several conflicts raging across the continent, with African countries themselves making greater effort to meet expectations of the affected populations, according to the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui. Over the past year, Chergui said, the AU Commission, in collaboration with member states and the international community, registered progress in conflict resolution in some areas but “the period was marked by very contrasted developments.”

While Madagascar successfully held elections that have enabled the island nation to be readmitted into the AU fold and Tunisia registered encouraging strides to return to democratic governance, Chergui told journalists here Friday, on the sidelines of the AU Summit, that Africa still had to deal with “major situation crises in Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan which are extremely complicated and with serious consequences”.

With regard to South Sudan, the Commissioner said the AU “has a lot of trust with the regional mediation efforts under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)”.

PANA reports that IGAD organised dialogue between the South Sudanese government and the opposition that resulted in a peace deal and the release of seven of the eleven “prominent detainees” this week.

On the four detainees still in custody, Chergui said the government in Juba intends to put them on trial.

“It is our hope that the process will be expedited because these are important personalities. We need to trust the judicial system of South Sudan and President Salva Kiir has the power to find a rapid solution to the crisis,” he said.

On the crisis in CAR, which the AU Commission has described as “catastrophic”, Chergui said an international donors conference is set for Saturday at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a view to mobilising essential resources for rebuilding the country.

“African countries are requested to make effort and raise what is required to meet expectations of the suffering population in CAR,” he said, noting that the African-led peacekeeping force in the country, known by its MISCA acronym, has done a commendable job to secure the capital, Bangui, and liberate several other areas including the main road to Cameroon from the control of rebels.

Chergui congratulated the French intervention force in CAR for securing Bangui airport and assisting humanitarian workers. Also, he paid tribute to soldiers who have lost their lives in efforts to bring peace to CAR people.

“The work that MISCA troops are doing will be improved upon in the coming weeks,” he said, expressing optimism that the African force would be transformed into a UN peacekeeping force.
“We need a force that has a high morale to do the work. The important thing is to meet the people’s aspirations, but in addition to that we need to rebuild the army of that country.”

Currently, the AU has to deal with about 16 conflict situations and work out their solutions in the Sahel-Sahelo region.

With the end of the rebellion of M23 group in DR Congo, Chergui called for continued efforts to eliminate all negative forces that continue to put innocent lives and peace in danger in the Great Lakes region.

Regarding the war-torn Somalia in East Africa, the Commissioner noted that the recently beefed- up AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would be able to undertake an operation to reduce the impact of terrorism perpetrated by Al-Shabaab rebel group.

Chergui rejected claims that Libya has been left in the cold by the AU as insurgency continued in the North Africa country, saying: “The Summit has reiterated its readiness to work with the Libyan people to ensure stability in the country.

“We need a stable Libya that has its place in the region to ensure peace. We need to see Libya resuming its development process. Libya has a lot of investments across the continent.”

The AU Commissioner announced that an international meeting has been slated for 1 March 2014 in Italy to look at ways and means of helping Libya to overcome its current crisis.

Pana 01/02/2014