African heads of state pose for a group photo during the opening of the 33rd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)
Leaders from across Africa have gathered in Ethiopia for the annual African Union (AU) summit to discuss ways to end the conflicts gripping the continent, with the situation in Libya and South Sudan topping the agenda.
The 33rd summit of the union opened on Sunday in the capital Addis Ababa, with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa chairing the session.
The two-day summit is being held under the theme "Silencing the Guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africaís development."
In his opening remarks on Sunday, AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat raised concern over the security situation in the continent, which is suffering from "terrorism, inter-communal conflict and pre- and post-election crises."
He also stressed the conflicts unfolding in Libya and South Sudan, saying it would take more than military action to address the "root causes" of African conflicts.
Faki reiterated the AUís determination to find "African solutions to African problems."
He warned that "the persistence of terrorism threatens the collapse of some member states and must be eradicated."
This is while several leaders from the continent have already admitted that the AU failed to achieve the goal adopted in 2013 of ending "all wars in Africa by 2020."
Ramaphosa said during the Sunday session that he planned to host two summits in May on Libya and South Sudan.
"We will focus our efforts on conflict resolution across the African continent, especially those experiencing protracted conflict," said Ramaphosa.
Crisis in South Sudan
Ramaphosa met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, separately on Saturday night, to jumpstart mediation efforts to form a power-sharing government in the country.
South Sudan, the youngest country in Africa, has been gripped by a bloody civil war since December 2013, when Kiir accused Machar, his former aide, of plotting a coup.
The two sides were then involved in a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the impoverished country along the ethnic lines.
Machar and Kiir have already missed two previous designated dates to settle their differences and reach peace. They are now facing a February 22 deadline to form a government.
After meeting Ramaphosa, separately, the pair met face-to-face on Sunday, but they made no progress on the question of the number of regional states in South Sudan and their borders, according to South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei.
UN, AU partnership on Libya of ‘paramount importanceí
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said at the summit on Sunday that the world bodyís partnership on Libya with the AU was "of paramount importance."
The UN chief said the world body supports the African bloc in its efforts to end the crisis plaguing the North African state.
"There are a number of players and military equipment and armies in Libya that made peace between Libyans impossible. This is unacceptable; it is a violation the UN arms embargo," he said.
"Critical to (the resolution of the) Libyan crisis is to increase international cooperation with African countries. We need international cooperation with the U.N. Security Council," he urged.
The African union has constantly complained that it was sidelined by the UN over the conflict in Libya.
Since 2014, the country has been divided between two rival camps; the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli and the rebel militia groups commanded by renegade General Khalifa Haftar in the eastern city of Tobruk.
Haftarís forces have launched an offensive since April to wrest control of the capital. The offensive has so far killed at least 200 civilians and displaced some 146,000 people, according to United Nations figures.
At a summit in Congo-Brazzaville in late January, African leaders vowed to hold a reconciliation forum for the warring parties in Libya.
SOURCE: PRESS TV