AU candidate-commissioner to revitalize conflict response plan

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - A candidate for the post of the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Hesphina Rukato, has vowed to introduce a new plan to revitalize continental efforts to curb conflicts.

“The fact that we have not been proactive means we have failed to exhaust other means of dialogue and conflict prevention,” Dr. Rukato, a former Deputy Chief Executive of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), told PANA in an exclusive interview here.

“Dialogue must come first before bombs. We need to listen to the voices of the people who should form the basis of our conflict prevention methods,” the Zimbabwean national said.

The AU, saddled with the responsibility of acting as the “continental fire station” - as some of its officials describe its responsibilities - has been criticized for being too passive in dealing with some conflicts, despite an elaborate plan to deal with them.

Dr. Rukato said a new plan had been developed to help the continental union to combine peace and security and good leadership, to reduce the temptation of resorting to violence as a means of receiving attention in most cases.

“We have developed the Africa Governance Architecture, whose aim is to look at the issue of peace and security in Africa and to reinforce the early warning system that we have in place,” Dr. Rukato, a key driver of some of the AU’s peace campaigns, said.

She said some of the early warning systems in place currently lacked basic facts to allow them to be implemented effectively.

“The point is who do you warn, when do you warn and what do they do after they receive the warning. We need to take the issue of conflict prevention seriously,” she said, ahead of the AU Commission elections.

Dr. Rukato said her plan, if elected to the post by the ministers of foreign affairs and endorsed by the AU Summit, is to introduce a plan that enables all the relevant AU departments to work as a team to deal with conflicts.

She said while in a conflict environment, the crisis of Internally Displaced Persons was a concern of political affairs, the involvement of all the other departments like social affairs and peace and security was always critical for success.

“This is the time for the demonstration of the collective reason for the seriousness of the AU, to make the objectives of the organization achievable,” the candidate said.

African leaders, due to converge in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for the 18th ordinary session of the Heads of State and Government Assembly, are due to vote for the 10 members of the AU Commission.

The incumbent Commissioner for Political Affairs, Julia Dolly Joiner, is expected to vacate office after serving her two-term mandate.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 24Jan2012

24 january 2012 06:41:12

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