United ECOWAS, AU can salvage Africa – UN chief Guterres

António Guterres
UN Secretary-General António Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says ECOWAS intervention in The Gambia shows that a united ECOWAS and AU can take firm decisions against undemocratic forces and promote the freedom of the people on the continent.

Guterres, who made the remarks at a press briefing at the UN Headquarters on Wednesday in New York, commended the region for its contributions to promoting peace and security.

“What the Gambia episode has demonstrated is that when the neighbours of a country are together, when the sub-regional African organisation is united and the African Union is united, then it is possible for it also to decide.

“It is possible for action to be taken and for democracy, human rights and the freedom of the people to be defended.

“When there is division in the region, it is much more difficult for the UN to be able to act accordingly.

“I think we made an enormous progress in creating the conditions for a much more effective cooperation with the different African entities and the UN in addressing some of the most complex crises that we face.”

Guterres explained that his participation at the just concluded AU Summit was successful, saying that the objective of the UN and the AU was achieved.

According to him, his objective was to establish a higher platform of cooperation between the two organisations in relation to the sustainable of the African continent.

He added that establishing a higher platform in relation to the AU and UN cooperation in peace and security in so many areas of concern on the African continent was also his other objective at the summit.

The UN chief noted the unfortunate South Sudan crisis, saying that something urgent must be done to halt it and reverse the country to the road to peace.

He regretted that as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, his first mission was to go to Uganda to celebrate World Refuge Day with South Sudanese refugees in that country years back.

According to him, the 500,000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda then went back home when the country was created with a lot of hope inspired in them.

“You can imagine now how tragic it is in South Sudan.

“And so one of my objectives was to try to establish a strong mechanism of cooperation between sub-regional organisations – African Union, IGAD and the UN.

“This is in order to be able to do everything possible to avert the worst in South Sudan and to bring the South Sudanese situation into a better track for peace.”

According to him, he had a Summit meeting with AU and Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on South Sudan.

“The summit agreed to work together to ensure the national dialogue that would be launched in South Sudan is truly inclusive, including all the key elements of the position.

“Ex-President Conare of Chad, the African Union mediator was fully empowered to launch a mediation process with total support of the UN, in close relationship with IGAD to monitor the peace process to ensure the dialogue is truly inclusive.

“In meeting with Salva Kiir, it was agreed that there will be better cooperation both for the UN peacekeeping force to operate freely in South Sudan and for the regional protection force to be put in place,” he said.

Guterres also said that an agreement was reached with Kenya for the country and other key neighbours to work together with the same objective and voice on South Sudan.

“This is to try to create a condition to avoid what could be a dramatic situation on ground and to put on track a peace process aiming at giving future hope to the South Sudan,” he said.


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