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Tana forum on security wraps up
with calls for prevention of conflicts

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Prevention of conflicts rather than administering existing conflicts should become priority for Africans, urged participants at the 7th Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa on Sunday.

The forum, held in the northern Ethiopia city of Bahir Dar from April 21-22, drew hundreds of participants, including current and former heads of state and government, high-ranking government officials, experts in peace and security, members of academia, youth representatives and the media.

Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said African nations should stop blaming external actors for conflicts and instead work toward building local capacity and infrastructure that can build sustainable peace and security.

“The tens of billions of U.S. dollars spent on the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could have been used instead to build up the country’s infrastructure and support better governance,” he said.

Instead of planning for management of existing conflicts, nations should instead use finances to prevent conflicts in the first case, Desalegn said.

He called on African states and the global community to identify early on potential conflict hotspots and adopt clear and transparent discourse to avoid conflicts.

Desalegn said the African Union and member states should be concerned about and strive to prevent potential conflict in what he called the militarization of the Red Sea strait.

His warning was echoed by AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui, who pointed out that Africa’s Sahel region, beset by criminals and terrorists, is at its root suffering from bad governance.

“AU member states should contribute funds that go into ensuring the continent’s security challenges like Darfur and Central African Republic are resolved and potential new ones are averted,” he said.

Chergui said management of present conflicts and prevention of future ones are impacted by fragmentation of efforts by the international community and the lack of compelling narratives to engage in sustainable conflict prevention.

“Compelling peace and security narratives help us to engage in sustainable conflict prevention and coordinate effective response to transnational security threats,” he said.

Outgoing Tana Forum chairperson and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, for his part, said conflicts in the DRC, South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia resulted from failures of conflict resolution efforts.

He called on the AU, instead of devoting too much time to its Agenda 2063 vision, to focus on present peace and security challenges that disproportionately affect the youth.

U.S. envoy to the African Union, Mary Beth Leonard, said intervention in crises when especially governments turn abusive should be one way to prevent conflict outbreak.

Leonard mentioned the case of the South Sudan civil war, which she said has been ongoing mercilessly since December 2013 because of lack of compelling threat of retaliation to perpetrators of the conflict.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than four years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the most severe refugee crises in the world.

The world’s newest nation descended into violence after a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to split in the army, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.



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