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AU to operationalise Mediation Support Unit

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In a bid to consolidate its peace-making efforts, the African Union (AU) is in the process of operationalising its first ever Mediation Support Unit (MSU).

Mr Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, said when established, the MSU would provide substantive and operational support to all AU-led and supported mediation efforts on the continent.

He said the Unit would be professional, predictable and consistent to back and support the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs).

Mr Chergui made the disclosure over the weekend at the closing of the AU Ninth High Level Retreat in Accra.

He said there was a strong imperative to foster closer partnership between the AU and RECs/RMs in order to enhance their peace-making efforts.

He explained that the proposed reforms of the AU would provide them a good opportunity to narrow the gap between the AU and RECs/RMs with a view to optimising their political, human and material resources required to silence the guns by 2020.

The Accra retreat on the theme “Strengthening AU’s Conflict Prevention and Peace-making Efforts” was attended by over 600 participants including; former heads of states and representatives from United Nations agencies.

During the two-day meeting, deliberations were focused on a wide-range of issues revolving around this year’s main theme.

This year’s retreat took place against the backdrop of a number of existing and emerging challenges which were increasingly getting complex, protracted and transnational in nature.

Mr Chergui said the continent was grappling with complex issues such as the Sahelo-Saharan Region, The Great Lakes Region, the Lake Chad Basin and the Broader Horn of Africa.

He said the developments in these regions were compounded by a range of external factors, most notably, the ongoing crisis across the Middle East; the spread of religious extremism on the continent and elsewhere, and the widening gap between population growth and socio-economic development.

Madam Helena Airaksinen, Ambassador of Finland to the AU, said: “The stability and peaceful, inclusive development of African countries and regions is crucial not only for the wellbeing of Africans but also for us all”.

She said the Accra Retreat demonstrated that the AU was taking the lead and setting the scene in conflict prevention on the continent in partnership with the UN, RECs and RMs.

Prof George Gyan Baffour, the Minister of Planning, said the Government welcomed the Declaration adopted by the Retreat to further strengthen conflict prevention and mediation which were seen as crosscutting and collaborative activities, and continued its shift towards a focus on service delivery to Member States and the RECs with the aim of enhancing their capacities and ability to respond to the challenges.

“We are particularly pleased with the declaration that referenced preventive diplomacy and mediation as a firm stance that the African Union must take as against the invocation of the principle of National sovereignty,” he said.

“To fully optimise the capacity of the African Union in this regard, there is a need, as identified by the retreat, to operationalise and harmonise the activities of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise) and the Network for Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FEMWise Africa)”.

Source: GNA

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