Mkapa blames fellow political leaders for conflicts

Dar es Salaam- Tanzania (PANA) -- Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa Tuesday blamed his fellow politicians for the continent's numerous conflicts in the past four decades.
Mkapa was speaking at a ceremony to open a three-day military-political seminar to prepare for the Recamp-3 Peacekeeping Military Exercise which started in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
Mkapa said it was quite appropriate that the seminar should be held because it is the politicians who cause the conflicts "by the things they do, by the things which they don't do and for the things they do badly.
" He added: "In Africa, it is regrettably far easier to make war than to make peace.
And the sooner we politicians, who claim to have our people's interests at heart, realise this, the sooner we can achieve sustainable peace.
" The president contended that it was a burden for African leaders, singularly or collectively, to find sustainable solutions to the conflicts that ravage the continent, noting that among poorest African countries, some of them were busy spending large proportions of their budgets and natural resources to wage wars and unleash death upon each other - within nations and across borders.
Such misuse of resources, he said, also sowed the seeds of continued conflict as warring factions fight for the control of those natural resources.
Conflicts have left devastating effects on the environment, infrastructure, production, services and ultimately on development.
Post-independence African conflicts are estimated to have directly or indirectly caused the loss of about eight million lives.
Two out of eight million lost lives were children, he stated.
UNICEF estimates that another four to five million children have been disabled, 12 million have been rendered homeless while more than a million orphaned or separated from their families.
And tens of thousands have become child soldiers.
"Africa alone has produced almost a third of all the 22 million refugees worldwide, while hundreds of thousands are internally displaced," he noted.
He added that Tanzania, with 32 million people and a per capita income of only 240 US dollars, hosts at least 600,000 refugees under the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Mkapa stressed that the concept of African solutions to the problems facing the continent must be the basis for action.
However, this needed the full support of the international community.
African initiatives could not obviate the need for external support and neither do they absolve the United Nations Security Council of its fundamental responsibilities towards peace and security even in Africa, he added.

08 mai 2001 15:23:00

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