AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
IN an extraordinary move, Cyril Ramaphosa, the chairperson of the African Union, delivered an opening address at the AU’s extraordinary 14th session on “Silencing the Guns” and did not mention the civil war in Ethiopia, which has left scores dead and unleashed a humanitarian disaster.
Ramaphosa condemned the violence and the rise of extremism in the Sahel region, Mozambique and elsewhere but did not mention the war launched by the Ethiopian government on the people of Tigray.
The AU chairperson said: “We condemn the acts of violence, terrorism and violent extremism as seen in the Sahel region and that are now spreading to other parts of the Continent, including our sisterly country of Mozambique.”
Ramaphosa called on African states to reaffirm their commitment to the full and successful implementation of the “AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa.”
“Silencing the Guns” is the AU flagship project launched in 2017 to create a conflict-free continent that is stable, developed, prosperous and capable of delivering a better life for all.
Ramaphosa conceded that, three years after the launch of the ambitious project, the ultimate goal has not been achieved.
“It was at the January 2017 Assembly that we adopted the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020. As we gather here, we all know that the guns are not yet silent. In some areas peace has been achieved, but considerable challenges still confront us.
“There are shortcomings in implementation that must be addressed urgently because they diminish our ability to consolidate peace, prevent the recurrence of violent conflict, build social cohesion, deepen democracy and advance economic development.
“Peace and stability will remain elusive if we do not address the connection between security and development; these are mutually reinforcing and one cannot be achieved without the other. Sustainable peace can only be achieved by building a just world and a rules-based international order that is inclusive and that addresses the root causes of conflict, such as poverty, injustice and discrimination,” Ramaphosa said.
He said peace, stability and a conducive environment were crucial for the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area, due to be launched onJanuary 01, 2021.
Ramaphosa added: “We need to address the root causes of conflict in our societies through a multifaceted approach that will require improved governance, entrenched democratic norms, respect for human rights and the political will to capacitate our institutions.
“We need to address the continued exclusion of women in the economic, political and social spheres, which renders them particularly vulnerable to violence and conflict and which undermines the contribution they could make to finding and sustaining peace. We welcome the ongoing efforts to create a conducive environment for the effective participation of women and youth in peace and development processes.”
Ramaphosa also paid tribute to the legendary Nelson Mandela, one of Africa’s revered statesman, who passed away seven years ago this week.
He said: “As we continue to remember him and draw inspiration from his lifelong dedication to the African cause, it is fitting that we, who are given the privilege to lead our people, work practically to give meaning to his dream of ‘an Africa which is at peace with itsel’.”
Ramaphosa expressed the AU’s grave concern about the current situation in Western Sahara, which he said demanded that every effort wss made to facilitate the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.