Africa must speak with a single voice

African countries are insisting that they must continue to work in a united fashion and speak with a single voice in negotiations with bodies from outside the continent, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza said on Friday.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza

Briefing the journalists who had accompanied him to the African Union heads of state summit in Addis Ababa, Guebuza said the meeting had decided that Africa should strengthen its ability to defend its own interests, particularly in dealing with conflicts inside African countries.

The continent’s leaders, he said, recognise that Africa still needs foreign support, “but this is not determinant, and Africa should speed up assuming fully the actions and costs to solve the problems we face”, Guebuza said.

As expected, the conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic to some extent diverted the attention of participants away from the main agenda of the summit, which was supposed to deal with agriculture and food security.

The summit, Guebuza said, called for a search for adequate solutions which should preferably result from initiatives taken by the peoples of the countries concerned, and with a contribution from active African solidarity.

He cited as an example the case of Madagascar which has been readmitted to full membership of the African Union after it was suspended in 2009 following the coup d’etat against the democratically elected President, Marc Ravalomanana.

Elections were held in December, and won by Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who was backed by the leader of the 2009 coup, Andry Rajoelina. Nonetheless, the poll was accepted internationally as fair, leading to the readmission of Madagascar to the AU and to the Southern African Development community (SADC).

Guebuza believed this showed how a united Africa, with the flexibility to listen to other points of view, will manage to solve the conflicts that may appear.

“The case of Madagascar took four years”, he said. “There were moments of despair for many people, but SADC was firm in acting and today we have a legitimate president who has taken his place in the concert of African nations”.

Guebuza revealed that Mozambique has foregone its opportunity to become the AU vice president from southern Africa for the coming year.

The post should have gone to Mozambique, but it brings with it the responsibility of chairing the AU in 2015. Guebuza pointed out that the 2015 AU chairperson takes office in January, and that is also probably the month in which the new Mozambican President, elected in October 2014, is sworn into office. Preferring not to place the AU in a position of having a chairperson who might not yet have taken office in his own country, Mozambique stood down in favour of the next in line, which was Zimbabwe.

“So it fell to President Robert Mugabe and we think that was a good sign”, said Guebuza. He stressed that this had nothing to do with an alleged attempt to exclude the 89 year old Mugabe from the summit between the European Union and Africa scheduled for April.

The reports of Mugabe’s exclusion appear to be untrue. “We had a meeting with representatives of the European Union”, said Guebuza, “and the commissioner for development assured us there had been a technical failing and that President Mugabe will be invited”.

Asked about the request made by the Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Salvador Lamothe, for Haiti to be admitted to AU membership, Guebuza said this was a matter that required a very careful and very delicate study before we reach a conclusion”.

Post published in: Africa News
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