The Point (Banjul)

23 December 2013

Gambia Condemns Violence in South Sudan, Car

The Gambia government has strongly condemned the current upheaval and the wave of sectarian violence in South Sudan and the Central African Republic respectively, saying it continues to observe the recent developments in both countries with concern.

In a statement issued on Saturday and read on state television by the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service and minister of Presidential Affairs, Momodou Sabally, the Gambia government said the attempted overthrow of the newly-established government in South Sudan is indeed unacceptable, and the protagonists in this attempt should desist from destabilising that country.

The African Union, it said, has striven hard to help stabilise the situation in this region, "and we will not allow the efforts expended in this direction to be nullified by such unwarranted upheavals".

"We urge the parties involved to exercise restraint, and to pay heed to the plight of the millions of people whose lives are at stake in this area. As the African Union celebrates its 50th anniversary, we need to consolidate the gains attained in ending the conflicts on the continent, rather than create fresh conflicts," the statement said.

The government added that as current chairman of the AU Peace and Security Council, President Yahya Jammeh has spoken to the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and will be talking to the current chairman of the AU, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne of Ethiopia, on the need to take urgent action to resolve the situation in South Sudan.

On the Central African Republic, the Gambia government deplored the violence, and called on the perpetrators of such violence to desist from destabilising the CAR.

"Ethnic and religious violence cannot and will never be condoned, and we condemn in the strongest terms violence against innocent people, especially women and children. We call on all parties in the ongoing violence to exercise maximum restraint, and to give peace a chance to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

The Gambia, according to the government, will continue her support for the resolution of this conflict within the framework of the AU Peace and Security Council "in collaboration with our strategic partners in the international community".

While welcoming the support of all allies in the resolution of these conflicts, the government reiterated the need for all interventions to be channelled through institutions and mechanisms under the AU.

"As the AU continues to take its responsibility for peace and security in Africa with utmost seriousness, it is important that other countries and organisations that want to help in this process respect and cooperate with the AU.

"We maintain our neutrality in all conflicts, and will remain steadfast in our view that conflicts should be resolved through peaceful means," the statement added.

As pronounced during the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the OAU/AU anniversary, "The Gambia advocates a decade of Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, and in that vein we call for the cessation of hostilities in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, while emphasising the need to respect the mandate of the current governments".

It stated that as per the principles of the AU, The Gambia will not recognise any government that comes to power by the use of force.

"Therefore, The Gambia, as current Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council, will stand firm by the principles and convictions of the AU to make sure that there is no compromise in respecting the legitimate mandates of sitting governments," the statement concluded.

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