UN Chief sees unity, cooperation as key to peaceful Africa

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The United Nations (UN) Chief says his recent visit to the Africa Union Heads of State Summit in Ethiopia allowed stakeholders to establish a higher platform of cooperation between the two organisations, both regarding sustainable development and ‘peace and security’.

Antonio Guterres made the remarks to the press in on his return to New York where he said agreement had been reached to fully align the AU’s Agenda63 with the UN 2030 Agenda.

Guterres says discussions ranged from the implementation of the peace deal in South Sudan to the situations in the DRC, Burundi and Mali and pointed to recent examples as demonstrating what was possible in Africa.

“What the Gambia episode has demonstrated is that when the neighbours of a country, when the sub-regional, African organisation is united, and the African Union is united, then it is possible for the Security Council to decide… it is possible for action to be taken and it is possible for democracy, human rights and the freedom of people to be defended. When there is division in the region, it is much more difficult for the UN to act accordingly.”

On South Sudan, he said President Salva Kirr had agreed to allow the UN mission greater freedom of movement in the country and for a regional protection force to be put in place, one that notably will now include Kenyan troops after recent tensions with the UN escalated last year when one of its commanders in South Sudan was fired for failing to respond to an attack on a Juba Hotel.

“Our narrative about Africa must not be based on the crises that exist in Africa, there are crises everywhere, and you have crises in Europe, in the Middle East, crisis in Asia, crises everywhere.

What is important is also to understand the enormous potential that Africa represents.

That Africa is the continent that has grown economically in the past decade, that has remarkable success stories and that we need to also take profit of the momentum created by these facts, in order to make sure that Africa is able to win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development in the next few years, knowing that is also the best way to prevent the conflicts that unfortunately have created so much suffering in the continent.”

This was Guterres’ first visit to the AU Summit since becoming UN Chief.

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– By Sherwin Bryce-Pease