The seminar provided a platform to reflect on the key outcomes of the 20th Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa from January 21 to 28, 2013. The summit was the first organised under the new leadership of the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Discussions during the seminar covered the challenges Africa is facing that are linked to peace and security matters. In order to focus leaders’ attention on addressing both ongoing and dormant conflicts, the theme that had been initially identified for the summit – Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance – was rescheduled for the next summit in May which coincides with the jubilee celebration of the Organisation of African Unity.
The situations in Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan and South Sudan, amongst others, were specifically raised. The crisis in Mali has attracted significant attention and the following AU decisions on Mali were commended despite disagreements with other regional and international partners:
- The increase of the force size of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) and the speedy deployment of the Malian integrated Task Force.
- The appointment of HE Pierre Buyoya from Burundi as the Special Representative in Mali and head of the AFISMA.
- The deployment of civilian observers to monitor the human rights situation.
- The AU’s contribution of $50 million and $455 million raised during the pledging conference.
On Sudan and South Sudan, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) extended the mandate of the AU High level- Implementation Panel (AUHIP) until 31 July 2013, with the request that the body support involved parties in the implementation and monitoring of the agreements and report to the PSC on progress. Concerns were also expressed about persisting differences between Presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kir. This slows progress toward the implementation of the 27 September 2012 agreement.
Regarding DRC, the signing of the Framework Agreement with interested countries was cancelled. According to official statement, SADC asked for a deferral of talks as there had been a lack of consultation on the issues and on how to operationalise the plan. However, the AU Assembly supported the efforts of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to rapidly deploy the International Neutral Force (INF) on the basis of a linkage with the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). The INF will be made up of troops from Tanzania, Angola and Zimbabwe.
The fact that the AU needs to invest more on development related issues by urging member states to respond to economic and political grievances was also raised. Beyond the call for alternative sources of funding which is synonymous with greater ownership of AU decisions, the election of Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, to the AU Assembly’ Chair, has generated many expectations. Finally, the AU Commission’s commitment to good governance, accountability, discipline and performance management was stressed.
This event was jointly hosted by the ISS and Oxfam International
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