Conflict in Africa Oct03

At a recent meeting of the African Heads of State in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, the absence of leaders from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Cot d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Liberia and the Central African Republic reflect the chronic instability in Africa. Conflict prevention poses a major challenge for today’s African leaders


The establishment of the African Union (AU), replacing the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), was established in 2002. It is a turning point for a continent suffering from disease, famine, social deprivation and poverty. While the pan-African Parliament, the African Court of Justice and the African central Bank will have to wait, the AU’s Peace and Security Council is the most advanced of the institutions. Seventeen countries have already ratified the text; twenty-seven are needed for the Council to be created. Based on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), this new body will have fifteen members elected in rotation, who will vote for resolutions and approve plans to send African peacekeeping troops to areas of conflict. A five member Council of Wise Men, recruited from Africa’s body of eminent personalities who are apolitical but command respect and moral authority, will direct the decisions of this peacekeeping body.


The AU must identify the problems of its Member States and evolve its own strategy to resolve the conflicts that precipitate and sustain poverty. The AU’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), an instrument voluntarily acceded to by 16 AU Member States, allows assessment of economic and political governance. Corruption, human rights, business ethics and role of non-state actors in national affairs are some of the issues that will be included in each country’s assessment. Ghana has volunteered to be assessed before December 2003 and a group of six eminent persons, including the Mozambican Graca Machel and the Senegalese Marie-Angelica savane, will be responsible for overseeing the evaluations. The election of former Malian president Alpha Oumar Konare to head the Commission of the AU is seen as a strong signal that Africa’s leaders are serious in their efforts to be credible.


Despite the impressive work of the Presidents of South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal, foreign aid is below expectations owing to continued conflicts in Africa preventing the EU and others from dispersion of committed funds. More than 200 economic development projects have been incorporated into NEPAD but only a very few are likely to come to fruition. Similarly, the African Force deployed in Burundi by the AU is 1,250 of the total 2,870 envisaged owing to failure by Mozambique and Ethiopia to finance deployment of their troops.


The AU has asked the EU Commission to examine the possibility of setting up a Peace Support Operation Facility (PSOF) to fund such African efforts for peacekeeping operations in war torn Member States. The EU recognises the need for such assistance and is may allocate funds by shaving a small percentage of funds from aid envelopes earmarked for beneficiary countries, an idea supported by the AU.


Commissioner Poul Nielsen, the Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development, is supportive of PSOF and confirms that conflicts, chaos, disorder and insecurity in failed states deter the EU from poverty-oriented work thereby penalising the most vulnerable and poorest in these countries. The European development Fund (EDF) funds allocated to the 77 African, Caribbean & Pacific (ACP) countries until the end of December 2002 is €32.4 billion. Of this fund, €21.6bn has been disbursed, €8.3bn committed but not paid and €2.5bn is available but not committed. This means that €8.3bn remains unpaid for projects in the countries where there are problems, especially internal conflict! A further €2.5bn remains uncommitted as countries suffering from conflict, bad governance or corruption are not even considered for assistance.


Africa faces the wrath of drought, famine, disease and increasing poverty. It cannot accept the burden of man-made disasters as it struggles to face natural calamities. It is time Africa rids itself of corrupt, greedy, incompetent dictators and war-lords who plunder their poor citizens. Africa desperately needs statesmen like Mandela who can deliver peace, reconciliation and an opportunity to prosper.