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ECOWAS gets AU’s commendation on peace-keeping in Africa

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The African Union (AU) has commended ECOWAS for its role in peace keeping operations on the continent.

The commendation came during the formal introduction of Ambassador Augustine Philip Mahiga as the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) at the Amani Africa II Field Training Exercise taking place concurrently in the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Lohatla in South Africa from the 19th of October to 7th of November, 2015.

Ambassador Mahiga recalled the pioneering role of ECOWAS when it mandated the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) to enforce peace in Liberia and Sierra-Leone, which he said paved the way for peace enforcement as part of peacekeeping missions. 

He added that both the United Nations (UN) and AU with all their experiences had to take a cue from ECOWAS in terms of deploying peace enforcement mission, where the warring parties were not amenable to political negotiations.

The SRCC also reminded participants of the enormous loss of lives in many countries around the world, due to the inability of the comity of nations to act and stop impunity under the doctrine of none interference. 

This he said has led to loss of lives of several innocent civilians, women and children, that could have been prevented if nations come together to intervene and enforce ceasefire while looking for political solutions to bring about lasting peace and stability.

He therefore called on the rest of the world to emulate ECOWAS and applauded the initiative of the African Union to have an African Standby Force (ASF), as part of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). This he said will ensure quick response and intervention when conflicts occur in any part of the continent. 

Ambassador Mahiga described the ASF as ‘an African solution to an African problem’. He also said the era of waiting for other powers outside of Africa to rescue Africans will soon be a thing of the past.

With the training of the regional standby forces including the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) as part of the ASF, during the AMANI Africa II Field Training Exercise, the SRCC believes the nations of Africa have shown leadership, commitment and concern for their citizens. 

The citizens of Africa have been yearning for a mechanism that will rapidly intervene in times of conflicts and save innocent lives, who in most cases are not even party to the conflicts, he added.

Earlier, Ambassador Mahiga paid tribute to the Chairman of the African Union and President of Zimbabwe, Dr. Robert Mugabe, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as well as the Commissioner for Peace and Security Ambassador Smail Chergui, for their individual and collective efforts towards the realization of the dreams of the founding fathers of the African Union. 

The SRCC then expressed his delight for the appointment and considered it a privilege to serve Africa in this historic stride towards developing the capacity of the African Standby Force.

He added that the comparative advantage of having Africa’s own rapid deployment capability is very high and the capacity that Nigeria has shown in deploying ECOWAS Standby Force to the AMANI Africa II exercise, is a proof of the maturity of the African forces and the capacity of African nations to deploy troops around the continent at a very short notice. 

He therefore, thanked the people and government of Nigeria for this important achievement.

Ambassador Mahiga then urged participants to also start thinking of plans of not only fighting conventional warfare but the new threat of fundamentalism, extremism and insurgency. 

He also called on participants to begin the search for new ways of fighting international crimes such as drug and human trafficking, which he described as some of the lingering challenges facing Africa.

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