UN Chief: There is 'wind of hope' in Africa

Posted by News Express | 5 February 2019 | 1,450 times

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• U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the U.N. headquarters, Oct. 5, 2018.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that there has been a "quantum leap" in relations between the world body and the African Union and he hopes this can translate into progress on some of the continent's biggest challenges.

"I am totally committed to the cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations," Guterres told VOA in an interview at U.N. headquarters Tuesday before he heads to Addis Ababa for this weekend's AU summit. "We are working more and more together in addressing a number of situations in Africa."

He pointed to Tuesday's breakthrough on the Central African Republic — the government and 14 armed groups initialed a deal to end five years of fighting during peace talks in Sudan.

"It was led by the African Union with full support of the U.N.," Guterres said.

The U.N. has more than 13,000 peacekeepers in the country, which has been wracked by intercommunal and religious fighting since 2013.

'Wind of hope'

Other bright spots on the African horizon include September's reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea after two decades of animosity following a dispute over their border.

Guterres, who was present in Jeddah in September for the signing of the peace deal between the countries, said the reconciliation is having a positive effect throughout the Horn of Africa.

"We see negotiations between Djibouti and Eritrea, and we see reconciliation between Eritrea and Somalia that already took place," Guterres said. "We see in many other areas movement in the right direction, and we are totally committed to work together — the African Union and the African subregional organizations — to support this wind of hope."

He is also encouraged that the U.N. can hit the reset button in its relations with Somalia.

Last month, cooperation between the two faltered, after the Somali federal government expelled Guterres' special envoy for raising the case of Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabab leader who has moved into politics and sought to participate in elections in the South West state.

The national electoral commission banned Robow from running, while the South West state electoral body said he could be a candidate. Robow was arrested in December and violent protests ensued both for and against the decision.

Guterres recently sent his top political official to Mogadishu for talks with the government.

"I will be appointing now very soon a new envoy," Guterres told VOA. "And I hope there will be a new beginning of our relations; that is very important."

He said Somalia is making progress, particularly on economic reform, and the U.N. wants to encourage and support that, including through urging international financial institutions to offer their support. (VOA)


Source: News Express

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