Africa's best chances of ending conflict and achieving sustainable peace is by addressing the key factors that lead to emergence of violence and strife, President Paul Kagame has said.
The Head of state was speaking at the 14th Extraordinary African Union Summit dubbed Silencing the Guns, which was chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current African Union Chairperson.
The theme for this year's summit was: "Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development".
The Assembly reviewed a declaration by the AU in 2013 that aimed at silencing the guns by 2020. 'Silencing guns' is a euphemism for bringing to an end conflict, violence and strife that has characterized parts of the continent and held back progress.
The Assembly among other things considered extension of the programme by 10 years as the current deadline had lapsed.
Kagame noted that peace is a precondition for the continent's ambitions and goals in different aspects including social, trade, infrastructure and human development.
While peace is a prerequisite for the desired socio-economic progress and integration, the President said that it remains elusive with the continent still far from ending conflict.
In some instances, he noted that the situation had deteriorated with citizens being the key victims of the circumstances.
"Africa's citizens, of course are the ones who pay the price. The self-evident need to renew this programme for another 10 years is an acknowledgement that we have collectively fallen short," he said.
Kagame said that conflict cannot be ended by treating its symptoms of cleaning up messes but by addressing factors that lead to violence.
"We must recognize that conflict cannot be ended by treating symptoms or cleaning up messes after the fact. The only sustainable way to silence guns in Africa is to deal directly and swiftly with the political and economic factors that create the conditions for violence and strife in the first place. Accomplishing this is within our power as a continent and it must be our priority," he said.
Kagame noted that the ambition is attainable if prioritized adding that there has been some progress laying ground for achievement of the objectives.
Progress, he said has been in the AU's ability to contribute meaningfully to peace and security through the African Union Peace Fund which has been funded at the highest level since it was established in 1993. The fund currently has close to $200M.
The Peace Fund was established to finance the AU's peace and security operations.
The fund covers mediation and preventive diplomacy, institutional capacity as well as peace support operations and reduces reliance on external assistance for peace operations.