ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The African Union Assembly must speed up the operationalisation of the Africa Standby Force to ensure the continent has capacity for rapid response when conflict situations arise, AU Commission (AUC) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said.
REPORT BY WISDOM MDZUNGAIRI ASSISTANT EDITOR
Dlamini-Zuma’s call at the opening of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council followed reports that AU member states were not happy with military interventions by the West, especially France, in Africa’s troubled spots without the tacit consent of the Pan-African organisation.
Despite the concerns, she noted France’s involvement saying it was important to urgently restore the territorial integrity of Mali. France was also instrumental in deposing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power during the Arab spring as well as arresting ex-Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who is now facing prosecution at the Hague International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
The AU executive council is comprised of Foreign Affairs ministers from all the 54 African countries.
“Our fledgling Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) is providing us with a critical instrument to manage conflicts on the continent . . . (But) we have seen the re-emergence of conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau and Central African Republic, while in Mali we are now facing new, multi-faceted challenges with broader regional and continental implications,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
“The persistence and re-emergence of old conflicts and the development of new threats to security continues to require our urgent and focused attention, and in particular understanding and addressing the root causes of conflicts.”
Earlier, AU Peace and Security Department secretary-general Edmore Kambudzi said member states were slow in reacting to a crisis situation due to stringent budgets.
Dlamini-Zuma added the AU must maintain a healthy balance between achieving peace and advancing development as the continent cannot advance without progressing on both fronts.
The AUC chair also said of concern was the lack of political will by AU leaders as it related to decision-making.
“Should we not at this stage consider providing sufficient time, capabilities and tools to implement and assess the impact of the decisions we have taken? . . . It is time we sat and evaluate the strategic partnerships that Africa has with our co-operating partners, with a view to rationalising them, improving on modalities of work and our participating in them and ensuring that Africa’s interests are maximised,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma urged the AU to convene an extra-ordinary session of the Executive Council to discuss in depth and subsequently make appropriate recommendations to the heads of State and government.