Mali, Bissau, Sudans, Somalia top UN, AU talks


The U.N. Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council jointly urged military coup leaders in Guinea Bissau to give up power and expressed concern at an al Qaeda threat in Mali, fighting in the Sudans and Somalia piracy.

The two councils, charged with maintaining and promoting peace and security, met for talks in New York on Wednesday and agreed an eight-page statement that addressed the top security issues in Africa and strengthening cooperation between the two bodies.

Military coups in Guinea Bissau and Mali, simmering border clashes between Sudan and South Sudan, and a bid to stabilize Somalia warranted special mentions in the statement, Reuters reports.
“The members of the UNSC and the AUPSC condemned the recent instances of unconstitutional change in West Africa and reiterated their commitment to strengthening democracy, peace and stability on the continent,” the statement said.

They are worried about the threat posed by transnational organized crime, including illicit weapons and drug trafficking, piracy and armed robbery at sea, particularly in West Africa and the Sahel region, according to the statement.
“They further expressed serious concern about the insecurity and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Sahel region, which is further complicated by the presence of armed groups and terrorist groups and their activities,” it said.

Mali’s March 22 military coup triggered the fall of the north of the country to secular and Islamist rebels, who now control a desert region the size of France at the heart of the Sahara. The rebel takeover has emboldened al Qaeda’s North Africa wing, and other forces such as Nigerian militants from Boko Haram.

Just weeks later, Guinea-Bissau soldiers took power on April 12, further undermining West Africa’s fragile democracy gains.

Guinea-Bissau has suffered turmoil from several coups and army uprisings since independence from Portugal in 1974, but the latest one has also set back western efforts to combat drugs cartels using the country as a transshipment point to Europe.

The joint U.N.-African Union statement underlined an “urgent need to continue to strengthen measures to restore and respect constitutional order, including a democratic electoral process, and that members of the ‘Military Command’ relinquish their position of authority” in Guinea-Bissau.

The two councils welcomed the resumption of talks between Sudan and South Sudan – which were brought to the brink of war by border clashes in April – but expressed concern at the “prevailing” situation as well as ongoing violence in the Sudanese regions of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

The statement said the two councils were worried that some deadlines had been missed in Somalia’s transition to democracy and were “gravely concerned by the threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea against vessels pose to the situation in Somalia and other States in the region.”

The U.N. Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council plan to meet again before July 2013 in Addis Ababa.