…African leaders call for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in occupied East DRC
…as Comorian President, Assoumani, emerges AU Chairman
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said timely information sharing amongst contiguous African States is vital to successful early warning and response to terror threats around the continent.
Buhari’s comments follow armed conflict and terror activities that have lingered in the North and sub-Saharan Africa in the past two decades.
“Timely information sharing is vital to successful early warning and response processes,’’ Buhari told his counterparts during a High-Level side event on Early Warning Within the Framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa, at the ongoing 36th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to a statement signed on Sunday by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the event was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.
The statement is titled ‘President Buhari calls for strengthening of early warning systems to rein in conflicts in Africa.’
Buhari also revealed that Nigeria had fully embraced the spirit of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement having signed, ratified and deposited the instrument at the African Union Commission.
Therefore, he urged all member states that had not yet ratified the Agreement to do so.
He also called on the AUC and the Secretariat of AfCFTA to continue supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.
The President, who was represented by the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), warned that when member states denied credible early warning signals of impending crisis, they miss opportunities to address conflict situations before they escalate.
He, therefore, urged member states to cooperate more with the African Union Commission, Regional Economic Communities, Regional Mechanisms and other relevant partners.
‘‘We also call on Member States to embrace the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework and its tools, the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment and the Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies.
‘‘Our continent has contended with various issues of insecurity, including terrorism, violent extremism, unconstitutional changes of Government, among others.
‘‘These issues have been discussed severally at various High-Level meetings, particularly at the May 2022 Extraordinary Session of the Assembly held in Malabo indicating the importance attached to this worrisome trend,” Buhari said.
According to him, Nigeria acknowledges the work of the AU, RECs, RMs in strengthening Continental Early Warning Systems as well as AU security and intelligence organs like CISSA, African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation and Africa Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism for providing timely warnings on emerging threats.
He referred to the country’s position at the 35th Session of the Assembly in February 2022 directing the AUC to establish a monitoring and oversight committee to ensure successful early warning and response systems in Africa, and also call for enhanced horizon scanning briefings.
‘‘In addition, the AUC must develop a holistic approach to peace and security which encompasses the major drivers of conflict on the continent,’’ he said.
Earlier on Saturday, the President had joined other African leaders to participate at the opening ceremony of the AU Summit, where President Azali Assoumani of Comoros, officially took over the AU’s rotating presidency.
Among the speakers at the opening ceremony of were Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Mahamat, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the host, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Gheit, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and the Prime Minister of Palestine, Mohammad Shtayye.
In Addis Ababa on Friday, Buhari participated at the second Heads of State and Government Summit of the Sahel Region Climate Commission.
At the SRCC High-Level meeting, he declared Nigeria’s readiness to host the Secretariat of the Sahel Climate Fund, including equipping and provision of accommodation to the top management staff of the fund.
Also on Friday, the Nigerian leader was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
At the mini-summit, which took place simultaneously with the SRCC High-level meeting, African leaders urged all armed groups to withdraw from occupied territory in the eastern DRC by the end of next month.
They also called for an “immediate ceasefire” by all armed groups and the resettlement of people displaced by the violence.
Buhari was represented by the NSA at the security event because he was engaged in another meeting, which considered Reports by African Leaders on specific thematic issues at the Summit.
The 36th AU summit will be Buhari’s last as President.
It is also his third foreign trip in 2023.
He is expected back in the country on Monday; amidst turmoil trailing his Thursday morning broadcast on the Central Bank’s new Naira policy.