This week the Africa APPG held a parliamentary roundtable with the African Union’s Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Smail Chergui and chaired by Lord Steel. The Ambassador explained the AU Framework for Peace and Security, covering the mechanisms of the Peace and Security Council and the AU’s civil society and people driven Agenda for 2063. The meeting was very timely and covered highly topical issues such as the situation in Somalia and the UK support to forces combatting Al-Shaabab, the ongoing border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Chibok kidnapping and the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Lord McConnell, Chair of the Great Lakes APPG, having recently returned from Bangui in the Central African Republic where in September the UN took over the peacekeeping mission asked about the current collaboration between AU and UN forces. The Ambassador shed light on the ground situation and the need for improved cohesion between the CAR Government, Parliament and the peacekeeping forces in Bangui in time for credible elections in February next year. The Ambassador added that it was essential that refugees that have already fled CAR are not forgotten.
Lord McConnell also raised questions about the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo following the Nairobi peace agreement last December between the DRC Government and M23 rebels. Mr Chergui reported that the situation in DRC is still not stable and more evaluation needs to be done on current efforts for peace; as well strengthening support to Uganda which is struggling with continued pressure of refugee flows from DRC. The discussion also covered the need for accountability of perpetrators through the justice system to allow for peacebuilding at the community level.
Mike Gapes MP, who had recently returned from Mali, asked how successful the AU’s peacekeeping efforts had been since the election last year. The Ambassador suggested that a further peace agreement between the Malian Government and the Tuareg rebels would be ready soon but support was still being gathered from the UN and Arab League.
The Ambassador closed the meeting by thanking the UK Government for its support in tackling the worsening Ebola crisis.