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07.10.2008 Africa

African leaders urged to be committed to peace


Mr Samuel Atuobi, Research Associate at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) has called on African leaders to be committed to the prevention of conflicts on the continent.

Mr Atuobi said some African leaders had failed their countries as well as the continent due to their inability to adhere to peace accords that they had signed as they did things contrary to the requirements of such conflict resolution mechanisms.

He stated that instead of controlling grassroots conflicts in their countries, some African leaders waited until it escalated and claimed lives before they put in measures to resolve it.
Mr Atuobi made the call on Tuesday when he presented a paper on “Conflict prevention and resolution in Africa, past, present and future,” during the opening ceremony of a five-day peace initiative dialogue in Tema.

The dialogue which drew 30 participants from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana was organized by the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship (AABYF) under the auspices of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).

It was on the theme; “Peace and Conflict Resolution in Africa – The Christian Perspective”.
Mr Atuobi noted that African leaders must show concern at resolving local conflicts in their neighbouring countries as they would be affected by it should it generate into a big conflict.
He cited examples of the Liberia war and other past and present conflicts on the continent, noting that refugees from such war-torn countries had become the responsibility of other African countries that could have stopped the conflict at it initial stage.

The Research Associate indicated that the African Union had put in place some mechanisms including the African Standby Force and Continental Early Warning System to help prevent conflicts on the continent.

He said both measures would be fully operational by the year 2010 adding that the Continental Early Warning System would be in charge of collecting data on signals of conflicts from member countries while the African Standby Force would contain conflicts on the continents to prevent their escalation.

Mr Atuobi encouraged Christians not to shy away from governance, adding that the notion that politics belonged to other people or 'politics is dirty' should be discarded in order for them to participate in conflict resolution and the promotion of peace.
He said conflict resolution should not only be state driven but rather individuals, churches and non-governmental organizations must pursue peace by being passive towards politics in Africa.
Mr Atuobi said that the peace within individuals must be emphasized in order for it to spread to affect the community, the nation and the continent as a whole.
Reverend Emmett Dunn, BWA Youth Director, USA, said his outfit had dedicated the period from 2000 to 2010 as a decade to speak against ethnicity, conflicts and racism among others.
He said the second Sunday in December every year had also been set aside as the BWA's Human Rights Day, adding that it was to fulfill their responsibility of making peace for every body irrespective of their religious affiliation.
Rev. Dunn urged the public to agree to disagree in love and harmony in order to prevent creating conflicts adding that “having different views does not mean we are enemies.”

Rev Steven Asante, President of the Ghana Baptist Convention who chaired the function entreated participants to influence their peers to seek peace stating that the issue of conflict resolution in Africa had become a major concern to everyone.