Amidst Challenges of Conflict and Poverty, AU Commission Representative Expresses Optimism of Africa’s Progress

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As terrorism and war loom over Africa thus raising uncertainties about economic progress of the continent and people, African Union (AU) Commission Representative to Liberia, Ambassador H. Oluwatoyin Solaja has confidently expressed that the African Union continues to live up to its responsibilities to the continent.

In a speech delivered on May 25 on Africa Day at the AU Commission office in Monrovia, Ambassador Solaja pointed out that “Most countries are yet to attain the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as poverty deepens, along with low standard of living, food insecurity, poor health standards, and environmental challenges.”

In addition to these social and environmental disasters, the AU Commission Chairperson indicated, “Conflicts also continue to rage in some African nations including the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and Mali.”

Terrorist activities have also assumed alarming proportions, including those of al-Qaeda in Kenya and the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria are some challenges the Ambassador underscored as social situations facing the continent.

“But in all these, the African Union continues to live up to its responsibilities, either through working with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), deployment of intervention forces and peacekeeping missions, or the appointment of respected special envoys to manage the crises,” he said.

Despite the current gloomy picture, the AU Ambassador said there is light at the end of the tunnel as a number of conflicts have already been resolved and post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building efforts are ongoing to consolidate peace and stability.

He pointed out Liberia and other Mano River Union countries as encouraging examples that come to mind in terms of successfulness on the part of AU.

He commended Liberia and its government in a special way for transitioning from conflict to successive elected government, assuring that the African Union will continue to collaborate with the Government of Liberia on issues of mutual interest, particularly in the area of post-conflict peace-building efforts, and the needed solidarity for peace and stability in the country.

The AU further urged the Government of Liberia to consolidate its efforts on National Reconciliation towards sustainable peace in the country.

Recalling the historicity of the Organization of African Unity which later became African Union in 2003, Ambassador Solaja said Liberia together with Ghana and Guinea played a major role in the formation of OAU in 1963.

Presidents William V.S Tubman of Liberia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Sekou Toure of Guinea met in Sanniquellie, Nimba County in 1959 and decided on establishing an organization that will uphold African solidarity.

On May 25 1963, leaders of thirty-two independent African states gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a historic meeting which saw the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU).

In spite of the effort to establish an umbrella organization to uphold Africans and fight for independence from colonial powers, the aim of independence though achieved, there are still numerous of challenges facing Africans which impede the progress of the organization.

Many countries are not committed to payment of dues that financially strangulates the organization at some point.  Moreover, African countries are divided on a broader basis with different political ideologies, and such cannot allow the union to restrict any of the members what to do or what not to do.

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