Peace and stability pre-requisite for African unity – President

Accra, Oct. 25, GNA – Africa’s objective of an
integrated Africa cannot be achieved without peace and stability on the
continent, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.

He stressed that the  continent’s efforts at integration would be
gloom-ridden if African states continued to battle with the human security
challenges which confronted their peoples, saying, “No country would want
to integrate with another whose house is on fire.”

Addressing the opening of the 9th High-Level
African Union Retreat on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in
Africa in Accra on Thursday, the President advised that Africa took lessons
from the over six decades of European integration and adopt the step-by-step
determination of that continent for integration which had been successful in
bringing peace, prosperity and development to the majority of Europe.

He said that it was a widely acknowledged fact
that the formation of the European Union (EU) had helped, since the end of
World War II in 1945, prevent war amongst its members.

“History teaches us that Austria,
Britain, France, Germany and Italy had for centuries waged wars over religion,
territory and power.

“The creation of a free market, concealing
economic and geographical borders, was intended to erode the justification for
using war as the quickest avenue to wealth and power, and lessen its appeal.
That was the vision that underlay the idea behind the European Economic
Community, now the EU, in 195.

“This should motivate us in Africa, and hasten
our efforts towards integration. If Europe, through the formation of the EU,
was able to stop the vicious cycle of violence that had plagued them for
centuries, leading them onto the path of advancement, wealth and prosperity for
the majority of their peoples, Africa can no longer dither,”  the President stressed.

President Akufo-Addo urged African leaders to
“work together to unleash the energy and ingenuity of the African”‘
adding, “with a market of 1.2 billion people, soon to reach two billion,
the sky will be the limit”.

“Let us work towards the day when all of
us will look to doing business first in our region and continent before looking
to Europe, Asia or the Americas, because we have the men and women, the goods,
the services and the quality”.

The President also asked African leaders to
recognise that the way forward in the integration process was to implement
regional and continental decisions, such as the Continental Free Trade Area
Agreement, which would be in everyone’s interest.

“Those of us who believe strongly in
integration can do no better than to give our full support to regional and
continental decisions. Through this, we will build institutional confidence and
integrity in the structural organs of the AU and our regional entities,” he
added.

The two-day Accra meeting brings together
representatives of regional economic communities and regional mechanisms for
conflict prevention, management and resolution, to review the continental
body’s existing instruments, partnership and practices and determine their
suitability to manage current and future conflicts.

On the theme, “Strengthening Conflict
Prevention and Peace-making Efforts,” the meeting draws participation from
the Global body,  the United Nations, as
well as the European Union, La Francophonie, League of Arab States, and
Bilateral partners.

The annual meeting promotes alternative
perspectives on conflict resolution and Peace-making, with particular attention
to second and third track mediation efforts by involving a large number of
subnational actors, from grassroots community-based organisations to religious
and traditional authorities.

President Akufo-Addo entreated the
participants at the retreat to focus on the creation of conditions for the
elimination of pervasive threats to peoples and individual rights, livelihoods,
safety and life, through the protection of human and democratic rights, and the
promotion of human development.

He noted that with over 50 percent of Africa’s
population under the age of 20, African countries ought to create opportunities
and jobs for its youth, or they risked becoming instruments of instability or
targets of recruitment by terrorists.

To overcome this, there was need for African
leaders and population to understand the critical importance of education.

“We must provide them with access to
education; we must transform the structure of our economies from raw material
producing and exporting economies to value-added and industrialised economies,
which will provide opportunities, jobs and hope to our young people to live
dignified, productive lives,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo also noted the critical
importance of promoting and developing on the continent, a system and culture
of accountable governance, free of corruption, where the people were governed
in accordance with the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human
rights, and the principles of democratic accountability.

“Such a system includes; building strong
institutions of state, such as well-resourced Parliaments and Judiciaries,
efficient law enforcement agencies, and effective security forces, that see
their responsibilities and allegiances to the wider public interest, not just
to the conveniences of the governments of the day,” President Akufo-Addo
emphasised.

Smail Chergui, the AU’s Commissioner for Peace
and Security, who noted that the emerging peace and security challenges even
after states had committed to multilateralism 
on the continent called for the “Strengthening of efforts towards
ensuring our collective interests”.

Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative
of the UN Secretary- General and head of the UN office for West Africa and
Sahel, said Africa ought to strengthen its capacity to address the root causes
of conflict, in all its forms, and stressed the need for partnerships based on
shared values, mutual respect and solidarity among states.

GNA

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