China, it was revealed last week, has been “an exemplary partner” to the African Union (AU) providing $180 million worth of funding to the continental body’s peace and security efforts.
A statement issued on behalf of AU peace and security commissioner Ambassador Smail Chergui in Addis Ababa detailed this as being in two packages – $100 million for the African Standby Force (ASF) and the African Capacity for immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) and a second of $80 million. The statement was issued at a function where the second tranche of funding was seen as “an opportunity to begin discussions on how to use this generous package in a way that aligns with the priorities of the African continent”.
“Some” of the Chinese support will go to ongoing AU peace support operations. These include the MNJTF (Multi-National Joint Task Force against Boko Haram), the G5-Sahel as well as supporting the police deployment component of AMISOM.
“The AU would want to use some Chinese support to the benefit of the five regional standby forces. The Commission is planning to send an assessment mission to the five regional standby force headquarters to determine their exact needs and we will then respond to the Chinese side with a detailed assessment of the state of play and requirements,” the statement said.
“Chinese support to the AU’s peace and security agenda has, to date, been focused almost exclusively on military support in development of the African Standby Force. This has been based on two considerations – firstly, China’s deep-seated and longstanding refusal to become involved in internal affairs of other countries, which entails conflict prevention and issues of governance, etc., are not eligible and secondly, the priorities and needs of the AU, which identify the ASF as an initiative to be supported.
“While the AU respects and appreciates China’s position on non-interference, we would like to explore ways in which China can increase its support to the conflict mediation effort in future, making use of the extensive leverage it brings to the table. Support over the years to the AU’s mediation efforts between Sudan and South Sudan and in South Sudan itself and in particular the support given to the AUHIP (AU High Level Implementation Panel) is a case in point. China played a critical role in bringing the parties to the negotiating table to sign the peace agreements negotiated.
“The AU would like to see more support in this vein in other mediation efforts, since the ultimate objective is to reduce the need for the deployment of peace support operations.”
According to the statement part of the $100 million package has been disbursed to a continental logistic base in Yaoundé, Cameroon.