Ethiopia: AU Executive Council meeting opens with focus on conflict prevention

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Foreign ministers forming the Executive Council of the African Union met on Wednesday to prepare the main agenda of the AU Summit at a ministerial meeting dominated by the need to address conflicts which have made Africa unattractive for foreign investments.

The AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said there was an urgent need to deal with the threat of terrorism and extremism so the African population could live in peace.

The AUC's topmost official also blamed the UN for failing to act on the Western Sahara issue, saying the people's right to self-determination were being denied for far too long.

The AU President said there was also the need to address the failing global prices of commodities, especially oil and mineral wealth, to enable communities most-affected to adjust.

During the Executive Council meeting, there was no mention of the conflict in Burundi.

“War confers benefits on individuals as well as costs which can motivate people to fight,” Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told the opening session of the ministerial meeting, set to discuss the status of human rights and women in Africa.

Lopes spoke about the lack of equality and equity in the distribution of resources, the inequitable exercise of political and economic rights and the absence of a system to address these failures as key factors leading to more conflicts in Africa.

“It exists on three mutually reinforcing levels, economic, social and political. Relatively denied groups are persuaded by their leaders to seek redress. Privileged groups seek or are motivated to fight to protect privileges,” Lopes said.

The Ministers are meeting in Addis Ababa, ahead of the AU Heads of State and Government Assembly this week.  The ministers are expected to discuss and approve a revised budget for 2016.They will also explore the challenges facing the AU, especially in the failure by most countries to ratify approved treaties.

During the Ministerial meeting, the election of the members of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will take place.

Zimbabwean foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, said the ministers will also discuss the restructuring of the AU Commission and other institutions of the organisation.

In the reforms being proposed at the Summit, the leaders of Africa would hold regular closed sessions before turning to the open sessions, Mumbengegwi told the ministers.

The ministerial Council will also discuss a new scale of financial contributions, which the Zimbabwean minister, the current Chairman of the Executive Council, said, would put a heavier burden on the AU states.

“It will eliminate the need for external funding. It is also a means to ensure that we control the AU programmes. We must also pay for our contributions on time and stop our reliance on external funding.

Currently, the AU’s budget of more than US$500 million is funded by mostly foreign donors, with four countries, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria, each contributing 25% of the budget.

However, the contributions from the north African region were affected by the suspension of Egypt earlier and the instability caused by the Arab Spring, leading to a drop in the AU income.

The Chairman of the Executive Council said the AU also faced challenges of terrorism and political instability.
-0- PANA AO/MA 27Jan2016

27 january 2016 10:56:51

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