Call for African leaders to get to bottom of conflicts

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pretoria - African leaders need to reflect on the progress made with regard to peace on the continent and get to the root causes of conflicts, says President Jacob Zuma.

Addressing the two-day 25th Africa-France summit in Nice, France, on Monday, where more than 40 African leaders are in attendance, Zuma said root causes of conflict need to be addressed in order to strengthen peace and security on the African continent.

"In many instances conflict is a consequence of deep-rooted imbalances within societies. Lasting peace will only be sustainable once we have addressed issues of social and economic deprivation and inequality."

He said African countries remained committed to resolving conflict and instability, including unconstitutional changes of government- an effort that France has pledged to support.

Zuma said the Tripoli Plan of Action outlined specific commitments aimed at accelerating the resolution of conflict, responding to crisis situations, and consolidating peace.

Through collective efforts, member countries of the African Union (AU) prioritised achieving peace and security in all parts of Africa, said Zuma.

Zuma said closer co-operation between the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council was an important element in promoting and maintaining peace in Africa.

The President is accompanied by several cabinet ministers including Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who met with her French counterpart, Minister Bernard Kouchner, on the fringes of the summit.

The two ministers expressed their commitment to strengthening bilateral socio-economic relations between the two countries.

Nkoana-Mashabane emphasised that it was significant that both countries elevated their current relations from aid to opening market access for each country's products.

Earlier in the day, host French President Nicholas Sarkozy, said he would raise the issue of having an African state as a UN Security Council representative when France chairs the Council in the near future.

South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt are competing for a permanent seat at the United Nations council.

"None of the major issues our world is facing can be understood without the active participation of Africa," Sarkozy told the African leaders.

Emphasising Africa's indispensable role at the international stage, Sarkozy said the current political status of Africa is not proportional with the increasing importance of Africa.

"It is abnormal that Africa has no permanent member on the Security Council," he said, calling a "reform" to the UN institution.

This topic was in keeping with the summit's agenda of focusing on the African continent's role in global governance, strengthening peace and security, climate and development.

The summit is also focusing on economic and trade partnership, conflict and remedies and investment potentials in African- which is expected to create a platform for developed countries to partner with France in identifying investment opportunities in African countries.

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