Daily Trust (Abuja)

12 November 2013

Africa: Terrorism, Crime Capable of Destabilising Africa - President Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan says Africa remains vulnerable to terrorism, cross-border crime, drug trafficking as well as proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

He said these major threats could disrupt social equilibrium, stall democratic progress and destabilise the entire continent.

Jonathan was speaking in Abuja yesterday while declaring open, the First African Legislative Summit, organised by the Nigeria's National Assembly.

The president said the challenges must be addressed jointly and comprehensively through legislative and executive action in the interest of the people.

According to him, there is no greater task before the present generation of African leaders than to win the war against ethnic biases, religious intolerance and political instability.

He specifically charged African parliaments to address threats to electoral systems and design an appropriate progressive and mature relationship with other arms of government.

"The imperatives of democratic governance require us to run open governments, to respect the rights, liberties and freedoms of all our citizens, as guaranteed by constitutions and to tirelessly pursue programmes that will improve the living conditions of our people...Working on the principle that separation of powers is not separation of government, we're building a relationship with the National Assembly that has stabilized the polity and strengthened democratic governance in our country," he said.

He noted that recent experiences in Mali, Niger, Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic (CAR) served as a reminder of the challenges and indicated that African leaders must remain eternally vigilant to avoid a resurgence of the ugly past.

"Stronger and better collaboration between the executive and legislative arms of government needs be further encouraged across the continent as we work to build more inclusive governments," he added.

The president said though the continent had gone through different stages of self-governance and political independence, most African nations were still struggling to achieve true nationhood.

He decried that the continent's "perpetual battles" with ethnic and political conflicts had significantly stunted its progress.

"In the mission of making democracy work, the legislature is particularly critical because that is where you have the most diverse representation of the people. If democracy is to transform Africa into a land of freedom, peace and economic prosperity, our parliaments must be supported and encouraged in the interest of good governance and development," he said.

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