Lawson Mabhena in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
The African Union (AU) has urged the United States (US) to remove Sudan from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism to facilitate peaceful co-existence and unlock economic development.
The designation as a State sponsor of terrorism renders Sudan ineligible for debt relief and financing from lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB).
The AU also castigated the US-sponsored proposal for a peace plan to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with new AU chair President Cyril Ramaphosa likening it to the Apartheid regime’s Bantustan policy.
On January 28, US President Donald Trump revealed his controversial Middle East peace plan, calling for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital”.
The US president outlined the 80-page plan at the White House along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, much to the exclusion of Palestine.
Addressing the 33rd Ordinary Summit of the AU here yesterday, President Ramaphosa said the organisation will “deal with countries outside our continent that are fighting proxy wars”.
“The AU will continue to support people from elsewhere who continue to suffer under the yoke of oppression.
“In regard to the US-inspired plan for Palestine, it brought in mind the Apartheid regime which once imposed a Bantustan stance without consultation. The US solution is a Bantustan type of construct,” he said.
President Sisi called for “African solutions to African problems,” saying interference only worsened conflict.
AU Commission chair, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, said only politics and not war, could resolve conflicts bedevilling the continent.
“Africa is constantly reminded that there is no military solution to a problem,” he said, citing conflict in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic and Cameroon.
In a speech read on his behalf by Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian president Mr Mahmoud Abbas criticised the proposal by the US government for Israel to control Jerusalem.
“Palestine is the Holy Land. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in Jerusalem,” he said.
League of Arab States (LAS) secretary-general Mr Ahmed Aboul Gheit pledged support for ending war.
“There remains before us more common efforts that we must exert — together and in this spirit of complementarity — to stand with Sudan and support it in completing the steps it aspires to, including concluding the peace process between the government and armed groups, supporting its economic recovery and removing the remaining sanctions.
“We also urge that we strengthen our cooperation in support of Somalia and assisting its government in combating terrorism and consolidating the foundations of security and stability on its territory, ensuring the success of the national development plans it adopted and implementing the electoral and constitutional endeavours it is preparing for,” Mr Gheit said.
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Mr António Guterres said the AU’s theme for the year 2020, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, was not only about peace and security, but also inclusive sustainable development.
Silencing the guns is a commitment to achieving the aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063, specifically Aspiration 4, which envisions a peaceful and secure Africa, thereby making peace a reality for African people.
“Peace, development and rights are intertwined and reinforcing. By working together, our two organisations can support Africa to address the full spectrum of challenges facing the continent and the world for the coming decade.
“Making further inroads against poverty through a critical decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. The eradication of poverty remains an essential social and moral obligation for humankind,” Mr Guterres said.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa joined fellow Heads of State and Government for the closed session, election of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU for 2020 and election of the chairperson of the AU for 2021, group photo, opening ceremony, handover ceremony and launch of the theme for 2020.
President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will take over the chairmanship from President Ramaphosa next year.
The summit ends today.