African peace deals must be ring fenced

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Peace agreements reached to end conflicts in Africa should be realistic, and create a dynamic for peace by laying out a process of interlocking and mutually reinforcing actions, Frene Ginwala, co-chair of the Global Coalition for Africa said here Thursday.
Speaking at an international conference on consolidating peace in post- conflict African countries, Ginwala further suggested that the peace deals need to be "ring fenced" to make sure that they could not be altered and the commitments were effectively implemented.
Citing her country, South Africa, as a typical example, Ginwala said in negotiations to end apartheid and introduce democracy parties were concerned to reach a workable but binding agreement that all would have an interest in maintaining.
"We ring fenced this for five years, by clauses in the constitution, which provided for a government of national unity composed on the basis of electoral support in the first election.
"While the negotiated constitution could be altered by an elected Constituent Assembly, the new constitution had to comply with entrenched constitutional principles," she explained.
In conflict situations, Ginwala observed, fear and distrust between groups allowed atrocities to be perpetuated with relative impunity.
In contrast, she said, "lasting peace involves recognising the common humanity and destiny of the population and promoting coexistence and trust.
Ginwala, who was post-apartheid South Africa's first Speaker of Parliament, stressed that both women and men must be engaged in negotiations to end violence and conflicts as well as in government formed thereafter.
"Regrettably, this does not happen! We should bow our heads in shame," she added, observing that even at this conference on peace consolidation in Africa women representation was almost unnoticeable.
Meanwhile, Rwanda's foreign affairs and cooperation minister, Charles Murigande told the meeting that the post-genocide story of his country should send a message of hope and encouragement to countries emerging from conflicts.
"If Rwanda can pull herself out of the devastation left behind by the 1994 genocide, surely any other country can, provided they get the right leaders.
"Moreover, the Rwandan success story proves that despite wars, famines, and pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, all is not lost for Africa," he added.
The two-day conference, held under the auspices of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), is organised by the Government of Japan, the United Nations, Global Coalition for Africa (GCA), World Bank and UN Development Programme.
"The TICAD conference comes at a pivotal moment for African countries, which are registering increasing success in promoting dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflict," said Mikio Mori, director of TICAD at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"It is our hope that this conference will help Africa and the international community develop integrated strategies for post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction which can, in turn, contribute to peace consolidation and moving African countries towards sustainable development.
" From 2003 to 2005, Japan extended approximately $350 million to African countries in development aid and for peace initiatives.
The TICAD initiative, since its inception in 1993, has provided assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants and other war-affected constituents, mine action, as well as collection and destruction of small arms and light weapons.
"Today's most pressing peace consolidation challenges can best be met through concerted multilateral efforts at both global and regional levels," said Bouna Semou Diouf, director of the TICAD/UNDP Africa Bureau.

16 فبراير 2006 15:23:00




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