Although the 54-member meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is being held under the theme “Agriculture and Food Security,” the discussions are focusing more on war in Africa than the designated subject matter.
A dispatch from the AFP in Addis Ababa indicates that war in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan are the key concerns at the summit.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, in a statement earlier said while it may be necessary to discuss the “African renaissance,” it is a painful fact that all present must consider the humanitarian tragedies presently unfolding in the two African countries.
Africa’s youngest nation, South Sudan, got independence only two years ago from the Sudan Republic. Unfortunately, it has recently been plunged into a civil war leaving the people of the country divided, creating a serious humanitarian crisis.
The war in South Sudan has forced over 800,000 people from their homes as warring parties signed a fragile ceasefire characterized by constant clashes.
For the Central African Republic, around a million people out of its 4.6 million population have been forced out of their homes over the past 10 months. Many have lost their lives as a result of the sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians.
The African Union has deployed 5,200 strong forces along with 1,600 French troops, and new interim leadership is being installed in the person of Catherine Samba-Penza; who hopes to reunite the people and prepare for future elections.
Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom in his statement said unless AU member countries find an urgent solution to these problems, the situations in the two countries would have serious implications for peace and security in the region and the entire continent.
Director of the African Centre at the Atlantic Council, Peter J Pham, also commented that AU’s slow response to the crisis in the Central African Republic pointed to a deeper institutional weakness when it comes to rapidly evolving conflicts.
Meanwhile, Liberian Foreign Minister, Augustine K. N’gafuan and his delegation had earlier left for Addis Ababa to participate in the AU Foreign Ministers meeting ahead of discussions scheduled for African leaders.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has also left for Addis Ababa to form part of the African Heads of States meeting.
The controversial role on the continent of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is also expected to be discussed at the AU’s meeting.