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10.11.2008 General News

Veep complains

By The Statesman

Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, at the weekend spoke against the flow of sophisticated weapons to Africa, which eventually end up in the hands of rebels to perpetuate conflicts.

He said this was an issue that Africa and their European counterparts needed to address in order to enhance the socio-economic development of Africa.

Alhaji Mahama was speaking at the Fourth Africa Forum of the Partnership with Africa initiative in Abuja, Nigeria, which aims at fostering development and co-operation between Africa and the industrialised nations.

The three-day conference, being hosted by the German President, Horst Kohler, and his Nigerian counterpart, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, which started on Friday, November 7, was on the theme: "Barriers to Partnership and how to overcome them.'

He stressed: 'For several years, Africa has been engulfed with

armed conflicts, which has resulted and continue to result in the displacement of millions of the civilian population to refugee camps thereby depriving them

of their means of livelihood, human dignity and hope.

'For example, African countries and … development partners are collaborating to find solutions to conflicts in the Democratic Republic

of Congo , the Darfur Region of Sudan and Somalia .'

Alhaji Mahama, who talked on good governance in Africa, expressed the view that many people on the continent are yet to come into terms with the democratisation process to view the electoral process with pragmatism.

He lauded the African Peer Review Mechanism as the panacea to bad governance, which had been a barrier between Africa and Europe.

Alhaji Mahama said the APRM would ensure the progress of African unity and integration.

He noted that partnership between Africa and Europe should not involve only political leaders, but also the interaction and participation of people in various fields.

Alhaji Mahama said Africa had a lot of skilled labour to feed the European job, which should be harnessed to lead to 'brain gain' instead of the existing 'brain drain'.

President Kohler, who was the brainchild behind the forum, observed at a dinner that numerous proxy conflicts were brought to a close at the end of the cold war, but the dream of world peace did not become a reality.

He referred to conflicts in Eastern Congo and Somalia and said they serve as reminders that the people worst affected by violence were civilians.

'I have told Europeans time and again that that we have to take seriously Africa "s demands for equal partnership. But I have also said just as frankly to Africans that self-assertive Africa with equal rights must shoulder its responsibility for guaranteeing security and peace on the continent.'

More than 50 selected eminent persons with background in politics, business and civil society are using the forum as a platform to look at the barriers that Africans and Germans see as stumbling blocks in forging genuine partnership.

Heads of State from Burkina Faso and Ethiopia are part of the forum.

The maiden conference took place in Germany in November 2005, the second in Ghana in January 2007 and the third in November 2007 in Germany. GNA