A weekend African Union (AU) summit in Malabo had at its core stemming “the upsurge of an increasingly worrying situation” as regards issues affecting peace, security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of member countries.
The extraordinary summit on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government in the Equatorial Guinea capital concerned itself with the expanding threat of terrorism and violent extremism across the continent, including the influx of foreign terrorist fighters, private military companies and mercenaries, the proliferation of armed groups, as well as transnational organised crime.
The summit heard terrorism on the continent increased after 2011 with the Libyan crisis.
This, a statement said opened the way for foreign mercenaries in the Sahel and an influx of terrorist organisations defeated in the Middle East. “Terrorism spread to other parts of the continent. From Libya to Mozambique, Mali, the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Somalia, the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and eastern DR Congo, the terrorist contagion continues to grow.”
Africa, according to AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, “did not wait to react”.
The AU established joint forces to fight terrorism, such as AMISOM/ATMIS in Somalia, the Joint Multinational Force in the Lake Chad Basin, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the SADC mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and bilateral initiatives in Mozambique.
The Union reactivated legal instruments to combat terrorism, including the Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism adopted in 2002, the operational framework of the OAU Convention on Combating Terrorism adopted in 1999 and its Protocol adopted in 2004, the Johannesburg Declaration on the initiative to silence the guns and the AU Roadmap on Practical Measures to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2030.
These initiatives, Moussa Faki noted did not stop terrorism.
“It continues to flourish because of a lack of inter-African solidarity with countries fighting terrorism and because we do not honour our own commitments,” he is quoted in the statement as saying.
He gave the example of the African Standby Force not yet operational since its inception adding provision of the necessary means to existing armies, among others, would mean Africa would not depend on foreign forces to fight terrorism. He also noted double standards applied by the international community in confronting challenges of terrorism in Africa vis-a-vis elsewhere in the world.
On the link between terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government Moussa Faki said: “The return in force of military coups in some member states was cause for consternation and concern”.
“We are witnessing resurgence of a practice we thought was gone forever with the advent of a new age, which promised a democratic era. The stability of democratic institutions is a guarantee for economic and social development. Conversely, breaks from democratic processes bring about problems on the continent. Consequently, we need to analyse the causes of the resurgence of military usurpation of power and determine the appropriate therapy.”