Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, told members of the fifty-five-bloc organization at its annual summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that Africa is being held back due to “terrorism, intercommunal conflict, and pre- and post-electoral crises”. He warned that conflicts in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and in Mozambique’s north have become pressing concerns in addition to the ongoing civil wars in South Sudan and Libya. Mahamat also noted positive developments in the Central African Republic and Sudan, reaffirming the African Union’s commitment to finding “African solutions to African problems”.
The theme for this year’s commission is “Silencing the guns”, and the AU intends to focus its efforts on resolving conflicts across the continent. South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who sits as the AU president for 2020, said he has planned two separate summits regarding African conflicts and another on the African continental free-trade agreement. Ramaphosa welcomed German chancellor Angela Merkel in South Africa on Thursday, February 6, where they discussed the Libyan conflict and coordination at the United Nations as well as topics of trade agreements.
Ahead of the AU summit on February 8, Ramaphosa met with South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit and former-vice-president-turned-rebel-leader Reik Machar to kick-start new mediation discussions. South Sudan has until February 22 to form a new power-sharing government to help broker an end to the civil war, which has killed an estimated 400,000 civilians and displaced millions more.
United Nations secretary-general António Guterres also attended the summit, and later announced that the AU would have the full support of the UN in minimizing the impacts of war and rebuilding nations. Responding to criticisms from the AU that African countries were being sidelined in discussions surrounding the Libyan crisis, Guterres spoke on new cooperation frameworks that will assist the AU, which has struggled with indistinct plans for funding peacekeeping missions.