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Buhari calls for strengthening early warning systems to limit conflicts in Africa

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has called on African Union (AU) member countries to strengthen early warning systems to limit conflicts on the continent.

Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari with other leaders at the opening ceremony of the 36th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 18, 2023

He also urged all AU member states to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

A statement by the president’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, on Sunday, February 19, 2023, in Abuja, said the Nigerian positions and interventions on these issues were conveyed by the president during separate meetings at the ongoing 36th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Summit is meeting under theme, “Acceleration of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation.”

It provided a key opportunity for the Nigerian delegation, led by President Buhari, to emphasise that it had fully embraced the spirit of the AfCFTA, having signed, ratified and deposited the instrument at the African Union Commission.

In this light, Buhari urged all member states, AUC and the Secretariat of AfCFTA to continue supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.

He also called on member states that had not yet ratified the Agreement to do so.

At the High-Level side event on “Early Warning Within the Framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA),” Buhari noted that timely information sharing was vital to successful early warning and response processes.

The event was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.

The president was represented by the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, at the event.

Buhari, who was represented at the event because he was engaged in another meeting, which considered Reports by African Leaders on specific thematic issues at the Summit, warned that:

“When member states deny credible early warning signals of impending crisis, they miss opportunities to address conflict situations before they escalate.”

He, therefore, urged member states to cooperate more with the African Union Commission (AUC), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and other relevant partners.

“We also call on Member States to embrace the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools, the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and the Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS).

“Our continent has contended with various issues of insecurity, including terrorism, violent extremism, unconstitutional changes of Government, among others.

“These issues have been discussed severally at various High-Level meetings, particularly at the May 2022 Extraordinary Session of the Assembly held in Malabo indicating the importance attached to this worrisome trend.

“Nigeria acknowledges the work of the AU, RECs, RMs in strengthening Continental Early Warning Systems (CEWS),” he said.

The Nigerian leader also lauded the AU security and intelligence organs like CISSA, African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) and Africa Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) for providing timely warnings on emerging threats.

“We reiterate the decision of the 35th Session of the Assembly in February 2022 directing the AUC to establish a monitoring and oversight committee to ensure successful early warning and response systems in Africa, and also call for enhanced horizon scanning briefings.

“In addition, the AUC must develop a holistic approach to peace and security which encompasses the major drivers of conflict on the continent,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, President Buhari had joined other African leaders at the opening ceremony of the AU Summit, where President Azali Assoumani of Comoros, officially took over the AU’s rotating presidency.

Among the speakers at the opening ceremony of the 36th AU Summit were Moussa Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and the host, Ahmed Gheit, the Secretary-General of the Arab League.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, and Mohammad Shtayye, the Prime Minister of Palestine also spoke at the event.

In Addis Ababa on Friday, President Buhari participated at the second Heads of State and Government Summit of the Sahel Region Climate Commission (SRCC).

At the SRCC High-Level meeting, Buhari declared Nigeria’s readiness to host the Secretariat of the Sahel Climate Fund, including equipping and provision of accommodation to the top management staff of the fund.

Also on Friday, President Buhari, was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

At the mini-summit, which took place simultaneously with the SRCC High-level meeting, African leaders urged all armed groups to withdraw from occupied territory in the eastern DRC by the end of next month.

They also called for an “immediate ceasefire” by all armed groups and the resettlement of people displaced by the violence.

By Ismaila Chafe

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