President Paul Kagame yesterday said the peace and security situations in Africa present urgent reminders of how the continent needs to quickly build its own capacities to confront, manage and address their root causes of conflicts.
"In order to do this we must increase our solidarity, courage and political will in confronting these challenges. For not doing so almost makes us permanently vulnerable to many things including manipulation by, and dependence on external factors - which are often a big part of the problem to begin with," he said.
The President was speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he along with other African Heads of State and government, participated in the first day of the 20th Assembly of the African Union.
The opening ceremony of the summit saw the outgoing AU chairperson President Boni Yayi of Benin hand over to Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn.
In his statement given following the report of the AU Peace and Security Council, President Kagame thanked President Yayi for his year of service, congratulated Desalegn and welcomed the new chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, citing her impeccable credentials and assuring her of unreserved support during her tenure.
Referring to remarks made by former South African President Thabo Mbeki at Saturday's African Peer Review Mechanism meeting, President Kagame concurred that APRM was different because it offered an alternative to external reviews that tend to be punitive rather than restorative.
"I would add to that observation and note that they are not only punitive but also have no distinction between right and wrong often punishing both or punishing right and rewarding wrong. Clearly they are interest driven."
The President said speeding up the African Standby Force was one way Africa can build capabilities to deal with some of the prevailing situations on the continent, in the same way that developing the Africa Court of Justice to address genuine cases and prevent impunity which served as pretext for the abuse by the international justice system.
In thanking the AU backing of Rwanda's successful bid for the UN Security Council, Kagame pledged commitment to representing the continent.
"We will do so with full commitment, drawing from lessons of the last time Rwanda was there in 1994, during the worst moment of our country, and from other lessons on our continent. I want to assure you that you will not find Rwanda wanting as a partner for peace and security on our continent," he said.
On the sidelines of the meeting, President Kagame held talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ,who congratulated Rwanda on being elected to the UN Security Council. The Head of State and Ban discussed several issues, including ongoing regional and international mechanisms to help bring an end to the conflict in the DRC.
President Kagame is expected to participate in a meeting today alongside other regional Heads of State and the UN Secretary General on a proposed framework for peace in the DRC.