27 January 2014

Africa: Peace and Security At the Center of AU Executive Council Meeting

The 24th ordinary session of the Executive Council of the African Union was opened today with two of Africa's troubled states, South Sudan and Central African Republic taking the focus of attention.

On South Sudan the Chairperson of the Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called on both parties "to fully implement" the two documents signed last week as pace remained fragile in Africa's new state.

The 22nd AU Summit kicked of last week with a theme: "Agriculture and Food Security." However, few expected the topic to be the only centerpiece of the summit as conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic continued claiming lives.

"The current situation in South Sudan is a reflection of the challenges that face a post-conflict state and needs to be handled with a lot of wisdom and magnanimity," said Dr. Dlamini Zuma, adding, "the South Sudanese political actors should rise above their individual interest to save the country from falling into the precipice."

With regard to Central African Republic, the Chairperson said the situation "remains a matter of concern particularly the senseless violence that has taken a heavy toll on the civilian population." She welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2127 (2013), which authorized the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Central African Republic (MISCA) for a period of 12 months. Calling the work of MISCA in keeping the country safe as a "herculean task" Dr. Dlamini Zuma called on the international community to "remain fully committed to support this fragile state."

At the end of her speech was a message on the economy of the continent the "clear need to sustain the continent's high growth trajectory over the coming years." The Chairperson concluded her remark without mentioned the theme of the summit.

However, Carlos Lopes, UN Under secretary-general and Executive Secretary of ECA, took to the challenging of highlighting Africa's Agriculture when he said "approximately 65% of Africans rely on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood and despite the wide variety of crops animals and farm practices across the continent it is no surprise that Africa has the lowest level of agricultural productivity in the world."

Dr. Lopes reminded participants that while land productivity in India has grown from 0.95 tons per hectare to 2.53 tons per hectare over the past fifty years Africa's land productivity is stuck at 1.5.

In the context of the 22nd summit of the AU, the 24th ordinary session of the Executive Council will, in the next two days, deliberate on the election of the ten members of the Peace and Security Council for a two year mandate.

The meeting welcomed six different new ministers for foreign affairs Somalia, Mali, Comoros, Gambia, Zambia, and Mauritania.

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