President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked African leaders on the need to implement arms control agreement in the continent.
Buhari made the call at the 14th extra-ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) on “Silencing the Gun”, held virtually on Sunday.
He said the increasing number of peace agreements and their ongoing operationalisation in conflict situations around the continent demonstrated a resolve to chart a new course.
The president also pointed out that numerous challenges still abound in Africa.
He said, “The major challenge for us today in Africa is to achieve a new trajectory for Africa of peace, security and stability and a conflict free Africa
“We are encouraged by Africa’s efforts in the implementation of the AU master roadmap and the theme of the year, in the midst of COVID 19 pandemic. The increasing number of peace agreements and their ongoing operationalization in conflict situations around the continent demonstrate our resolve to chart a new course. We have also witnessed a number of successful national elections, facilitating peaceful political transitions across the continent.
“Attempts at unconstitutional change of governments through military coups have been totally rejected by all of us. We have continued to witness improved coordination with the UN and other foreign partners as demonstration of the commitment of the international community to complement our efforts on Silencing the Guns in Africa.
“Similarly, we have witnessed demonstrable progress in regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, through the establishment of Ad hoc mechanisms endorsed by the Assembly.
“At the national level, we are addressing these challenges particularly in the Lake Chad Basin region, where we are very supportive of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to fight terrorism and trans-national organized crimes as well as the ongoing stabilization strategy in the area to deal with the impact of climate change and other humanitarian challenges. We remain committed to the implementation of AU instruments. We have prioritized non-violent elections including increased advocacy on silencing the guns in the country.
“Nevertheless, numerous challenges still abound in Africa as we have seen with the recent conflicts such as seen in the Morroco-Sarahawi Republic. We urge an immediate ceasefire, the very important reason why we are sending a strong message of endorsement for the extension of the period of implementation of the AU Master Roadmap, including that of the amnesty month beyond 2020. In doing this, there will be the immediate need to have the monitoring and evaluation mechanism put in place to gauge the implementation at the continental level, while our member states will need to establish Special Units dedicated to silencing the guns at national levels. We are beginning to equally see emerging intra/inter-state resurgence of conflicts in Africa, underscoring the imperative for the African Union Mediation Support Unit (MSU) to be strengthened to coordinate peacemaking efforts by the Panel of Wise and other standby team of mediators. Our member states ensuring inclusive democratic governance, constitutionalism and facilitating access for AU mediators when necessary will also complement these efforts
“Threats of terrorist activities, other trans-national organized crimes and external interference in the internal affairs of African states are increasing. We also see maritime security threats, including the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The challenges of porous border are also visible. It is in this regard that we blame the slow implementation of the African Common Defence Policy hinged on the establishment of African Standby Force (ASF). Two years after this August Assembly directed on the harmonization of the African Capacity for Immediate response to Crisis (ACIRC) into ASF, we have not seen much on ground to address this yawning gap. It is for this reason that we are calling on the Assembly to dissolve ACIRC and declare ASF operational today. We equally request the full operationalization of the Lome Charter on Maritime Security. We must continue to promote the strict implementation of our Arms Control Instruments and Embargoes, including other relevant regional and international instruments, in order to complement and consolidate the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Constant and adequate coordination between the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Union should be encouraged and avoid duplication of efforts, as we ensure ownership and complementarity within the framework of African Standby Force.
“We all have a duty to collective security of Africa legitimized by our Constitutive Act. We will not rest on our oars until we achieve a conflict free Africa. The time to act is now,” he said