African ministers call for peace & coordination in the region

Published on Thursday 26th June 2008

Egypt: African foreign ministers and representatives met here Friday to discuss peace and security as well as political and economic development in the African continent ahead of the 11th African Union (AU) Summit.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 13th foreign ministerial meeting of the AU Executive Council, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit called for more cooperation and coordination in all fields among African countries.

Abul Gheit expressed hope that the Council will work out viable recommendations to be submitted to the AU Summit for the peace and security, as well as economic development of the continent.

For his part, AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping stressed the importance of peace and security to the social and economic development in the African continent.

The AU is stepping up efforts to guarantee Africa's peace and security to realize a strong, prosperous and united Africa, Ping noted.

"Africa is witnessing many difficulties and challenges, including Sudan's Darfur issue, the breakup of Chad-Sudan relations, the conflicts in Somali, Djibouti and Eritrea," the former Gabonese foreign minister said.

He called for the improvement of Africa's peace and security mechanism to reduce the undermining effect of conflicts to the continent, stressing the important role of effective implementation of the AU standby force to prevent and manage the conflicts in Africa.

Jean Ping also expressed the AU's concern on the situation of Zimbabwe, noting that the upcoming AU Summit would release an important statement on this issue.

He called for scaling up efforts for Africa's political and economic integration, and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa, which are a set of eight globally agreed targets aimed at eradicating extreme poverty, as well as urgent measures to confront the current global food and energy price hikes and promote the maternal and child health in Africa.

Moreover, Abdulie Janneh, UN under-secretary general and executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, called on African countries to use common solutions and the benefits of regional and international cooperation to guide and drive national actions for development.

The best response for Africa's development agenda is the effective use of limited resources to build more stable, integrated, competitive and diversified economies, he added.

"Indeed, the recent encouraging economic performance of Africa is being threatened by global economic emergencies in the food and energy markets and the prospect of stagflation in key industrial economies," the senior UN official pointed out.

He also warned about the negative effects of climate change which can undermine political stability, calling for strong and decisive policy measures to tackle the effects, promote investments, mobilize resources and reduce restrictive policies.

Participants of the two-day session of the Executive Council are expected to discuss the issues of peace and security, the progress of political and economic integration and progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa, as well as human rights, legal and health issues in the continent among others, according to the meeting agenda.

Under the summit theme of "Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation", the 11th AU Summit is scheduled on June 30 to July 1 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.