President Uhuru Kenyatta has rallied the African Union (AU) to end the increasing cases of political instability and insecurity on the continent by taking decisive actions saying the deteriorating situation was undermining the continent’s socioeconomic progress.
“As you note excellencies, 2021 was marked by a spread of terrorism and violent extremism and the resurgence of unconstitutional change of Government across the continent. This is a worrying trend that needs to be arrested and dealt with decisively.
“We need to take bold steps to address issues of terrorism and violent extremism and to undertake in depth review of our existing instruments on unconstitutional changes of Government in order to address the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of Government,” he said.
President Kenyatta spoke on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia when he delivered the progress report of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) at the ongoing 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU.
Despite the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, President Kenyatta said the AU-PSC had continued to discharge its mandate noting that the entity had held 85 virtual meetings in 2021, and addressed concerns in Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Libya, Mali/Sahel, South Sudan, Sudan, Western Sahara, Somalia and Comoros.
On the conflict in Western Sahara, President Kenyatta decried the escalating military tension between the Kingdom of Morocco and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) despite the various UN and AU resolutions and proposed measures to de-escalate the tension.
“In this regard, the assembly may wish to request the Peace and Security Council to discharge its mandate on the conflict in Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant provisions of its protocol and the relevant assembly decisions by reviewing the situation in the Western Sahara as necessary, at Heads of State and Government level.
“This should include receiving briefings from the AU Troika; engaging the two parties, both of whom are member states of the AU, to address the unfolding situation in order to prepare conditions for a new ceasefire and to reach a just and durable solution to the conflict,” President Kenyatta proposed.
Earlier, President Kenyatta, who arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday morning, witnessed the transfer of the African Union’s Chairmanship from President Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo to his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall during the opening ceremony of the two-day summit.
In their speeches, leaders who spoke at the opening ceremony, among them UN Secretary General António Guterres and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed paid glowing tribute to past AU chairpersons Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo) for outstanding stewardship of the pan-African institution.
PM Abiy particularly applauded President Ramaphosa for AU’s response to Covid-19 saying the South African leader had provided “exemplary leadership in a collective response to the challenges of the pandemic”.
The Ethiopian leader also spoke about the conflict in his country’s Tigray region saying his Government was taking all necessary steps to ensure that law and order was restored.
“As you are aware, despite the intransigence of the other side in this conflict, my Government has taken a variety of measures to minimize the loss of life and destruction of property.
“We have implemented unilateral withdrawal from conflict areas and used force that is necessary to ensure law and order.
“As a gesture of good will, we have released high profile suspects with a view to creating a conducive environment for peace,” PM Abiy said.
In his acceptance speech, President Sall assured of his commitment to serve the African Union with determination during his one-year tenure, and listed climate change, reform of the multilateral system including the UN as well as peace and security as some of his priority areas.
On Sunday, President Kenyatta, who is the current Chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), will present a progress report on the fight against malaria on the continent.