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A high-level panel comprised of former African leaders including Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki has recommended the need for African countries to develop an early warning mechanism that will help them to prevent conflicts, during a session held late Tuesday at the ongoing Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Kigali.
The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and former Botswana leader Festus Mogae were present at the session, which stressed the need for fixing governance systems and leadership’s failure to address the root conflict on the African continent.
"Once the early warning signs are established, there is a way to get rid of conflict, but all this depends on leadership," the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said at a session chaired by Kaberuka under the theme "Ending Conflict and Building Peace in Africa: A Call to Action".
Kaberuka told delegates that when someone tries to analyze the challenges currently facing fragile states in Africa, such as South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR), they will come to realize that it is much more about the failure of leadership.
Although some participants at the meeting were convinced that the poor management of natural resources such as oil and gas was the root cause of conflict in some countries, Kaberuka cited, among other examples, the paradox that when the conflict broke out in South Sudan, the Board of the African Development Bank has approved on the same day an envelope of US $25 million to electrify the city of Juba.
Despite the Bank’s efforts to address the infrastructure deficit in the new nation, Kaberuka found the new leadership in South Sudan is focusing on their population’s aspirations to spearhead the national economy.
For his part, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, called for coordinated conflict prevention efforts across Africa and their linkage to regional and continental architecture to maximize effectiveness.
“As African leaders, we don’t need to be invited anywhere to go and address our problems without first inviting ourselves to come together to tell each other the actual truth,” Kagame told delegates. Referring to the current security situation in Nigeria, said, “If we (Africans) have analyzed the causes of conflict, there is no one else who can resolve it as there is a way to manage the root cause of it.” He added that the underlying causes of conflict should be addressed by the African leaders themselves.
Speaking in the same vein, former South African President Thabo Mbeki noted that the “complex challenges” emanating from the changing nature of violence can no longer be met with the old “law and order concept".
“When looking at what happening now in Central African Republic (CAR) and in South Sudan you can easily conclude that this was a failure of leadership,” Mbeki said.
He stressed that although even security forces could be deployed to enforce peace, this is not sustainable as long as the root causes of the conflict have not been addressed.
The Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo, emphasized there is a need to take tough measures to address conflicts in some parts of Africa. “But economic development, by providing basics of daily life to the population, is a prerequisite and it is still a critical part in ending conflict,” she stressed.