The African Union’s (AU) 16th Summit of Heads of State and Government has emphasised the importance of peace and security on the continent. According to a document on Africa’s peace and security situation adopted at the event held at the body’s Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, headquarters, major issues of concern for African leaders include the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia and Tunisia.
The official Chinese Xinhua news agency says the leaders expressed deep concern on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire and encouraged the AU Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to continue with their efforts to find a solution to end the impasse. During the summit, the AU’s Peace and Security Council decided to set up a panel to deal with the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. The team is composed of presidents of Mauritania, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Chad, as well as head of the AU Commission and head of ECOWAS. The panel will evaluate the situation in the West African country, and is mandated to come up with a binding solution within one month.
On Somalia, which is going through a crucial transitional period, the African leaders strongly urged the country’s stakeholders to broaden and consolidate the reconciliation process, ensure greater cohesion within the Transitional Federal Institutions and complete the outstanding transitional tasks, including the constitutional process. The war-torn Horn of Africa country has not had a functional central government for two decades. It is currently run by the internationally recognised Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is protected by AU peacekeepers while facing deadly attacks by Islamist insurgent group of al-Shabaab. The country is expected to end its transitional period on August 20 this year.
Meanwhile, African leaders “urgently appeal” to all the Tunisian parties to “work together, in unity, peace, consensus and respect of legality, towards a peaceful and democratic transition,” according to the document. The summit, which has been largely dominated by discussions on Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt, concluded late yesterday after adopting a series of decisions and declarations concerning Africa’s development, peace and security, Xinhua said.