The Herald (Harare)

26 January 2013

Zimbabwe: President Attends AU Security Indaba

President Mugabe last night attended the African Union's Peace and Security Council meeting here as African leaders met to find ways of dealing with simmering tensions between Sudan and South Sudan as well as the armed conflict in Mali where rebels recently intensified attacks against government positions.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces attended the meeting at the ongoing 20th Ordinary Summit together with Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Minister Mumbengegwi had earlier attended a ministerial meeting on the same issues.

Details of the outcome of the meeting were not yet available at the time of going to press.

In her opening remarks before the meeting went into a closed session, African Union Commission chair, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said although Africa had made significant strides in addressing the peace and security challenges on the continent, there were still some regions which needed attention.

She cited Somalia, the Central African Republic, Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau as areas were significant progress had been made.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said the AU was concerned about renewed insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo but added that yesterday's meeting was specifically looking at the Sudan and South Sudan as well as Mali.

She said it was important to promote good neighbourliness between Sudan and South Sudan who had occasionally fought over an un-dermacated border and oil revenue from the disputed Abyei region.

She said it was important for the two states to follow the AU's internationally endorsed roadmap towards the reduction of tensions between them.

"In a very welcome move underscoring relations between the AU's Peace and Security Council and the United Nations' Security Council, the UN Security Council endorsed the roadmap in its entirety. This was an example of total unity of purpose in the international community," she said.

She thanked former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who is leading mediation efforts on the Sudan crisis together with former Rwandan president Pierre Buyoya and former Nigerian president Abdulsalami Abubakar, who are also in the High Level Implementation Panel.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir thanked the AU for convening the forum to discuss the situation between his country and Sudan adding that the vision of the two states living in peace and mutual security was attainable.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said AU member states were also strongly against the rebel offensive on the Malian government adding that the issue was also high on the agenda of last night's meeting.

Meanwhile, the full summit would officially open tomorrow morning with Heads of State and Government expected to tackle a number of burning issues concerning the continental bloc.

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