Zambia calls for lasting peace
Lusaka – Africa can break from the woes buffeting the continent if warring parties engage in effective dialogue and embrace peace.
Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Effron Lungu, made these remarks at the recent United Nations General Assembly meeting on “Peaceful Resolution of Conflict in Africa” in New York.
The UN and African Union organised the meeting. Minister Lungu stressed his desire to see the implementation of effective conflict resolutions that focus on addressing the root causes of wars and conflicts on the continent.
For decades, conflicts have displaced millions of people in Africa and Minister Lungu says it is time Africans change their attitudes and embrace peace so that refugees scattered across the continent could voluntarily return home and participate in nation building.
For decades, Zambia has hosted innumerable asylum seekers under its UN Convention on Humanitarian Provision of 1951 obligations. However, the country struggles financially, as many traditional donors are no longer supporting these efforts.
Mediation of conflicts at various levels must focus on creating effective communication channels among the warring parties to cultivate trust and a negotiating spirit among them, Minister Lungu said. For instance, the conflict in eastern DRC has regional dimensions because the people of the Great Lakes Region were socially, economically, culturally and linguistically interlinked. But “persistent cross-border attacks have caused profound regional insecurity and have been a source of political destabilisation for neighbouring countries, including Zambia”.
Minister Lungu welcomed the signing of the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework to stabilse eastern DRC. The agreement is between the government in Kinshasa, the rebel groups and neighbouring countries and was signed in Ethiopia on February 24, 2013.
The agreement, which calls on neighbouring countries to abstain from interfering in the DRC’s internal affairs, was described as an important step in the peace process.
The Zambian Foreign Affairs chief called on Africa to build its own capacity to handle mediation and conflict resolution. Minister Lungu noted that common causes of conflicts in Africa include political corruption, disregard for rule of law, unequal distribution of resources such as land and mineral wealth, poverty and human rights violations.
“In southern Africa, Zambia has and shall continue to play a pioneering and an exemplary role as a beacon of peace and stability in the region through its commitment to the principles of democracy and good governance,” he said.
He commended the AU’s on-going efforts to resolve conflicts across Africa.
“As we celebrate 50 years of the founding of our regional body AU, we need to commend ourselves as a continent for the political independence and stability we have so far achieved.
“As a continent we overcame colonialism and fought for the political independence of our respective countries.
“It is Zambia’s fervent hope that greater co-operation between the UN and AU in conflict prevention, mediation and peacekeeping missions will be fostered to restore peace on the continent and waffle unwarranted conflicts that have afflicted many countries and its people,” he said.