Dealing with Africa’s trouble spots, AU’s concerns

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The lack of progress towards peace in Zimbabwe, Western Sahara and the Eritrean-Djiboutian border row, currently ranked among the fourth category of Africa’s trouble spots, has drawn the attention of the African Union.

African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said that the lack of progress towards peace in those areas were among the sources of full-fledged conflicts the AU was keen to stem.

“There is a general trend towards a more peaceful, stable Africa, deeply committed to tackling peace and security. There is a group of countries where the situation is now stable, like Sierra Leone, Comoros and Liberia,” Lamamra said.

Speaking just days before making a special report to African leaders due for a series of meetings to examine the state of security in Africa and tackle the challenges to the anti-poverty initiatives, Lamamra said that there was an urgent need to bring to an end the general lack of progress in Zimbabwe, the Western Sahara and the Eritrea-Djibouti border row.

“There is a positive evolution on the Democratic Republic of Congo with its relationships with its neighbours witnessing a general positive evolution,” Lamamra said. “At any given time, there would be significant evolution.”


The Peace and Security Department of the AU classifies the raging political crisis in Zimbabwe as category four, among the states that have failed to make any steps towards peace after a thoroughly disputed presidential election plunged it into chaos.

Zimbabwe was expected to move steadily towards the formation of a unity government, following the signing of a power-sharing agreement between the government and the opposition.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Leader Morgan Tsvangirai has previously vowed that he would quit the talks unless fundamental demands by his opposition movement were accepted.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, widely blamed for failing to compromise on the political situation there, is threatening to form a unilateral government any time soon.

The main cause of the disagreement is the government’s unwillingness to relinquish control of key ministries.


In Djibouti, Eritrean troops have been stationed inside the Djiboutian territory, against an order by the United Nations Security Council that the Eritrean troops should move back.

The Eritrean-Djibouti tension came up strongly during the African Union (AU) Summit in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh in July 2008, about six months after Eritrea deployed its forces on the Djiboutian territory, causing tension.

Eritrea has snubbed attempts by the Peace and Security Council of the AU to tour the region, while Djibouti has been cooperating in trying to arrive at a solution.

Other trouble spots

The AU Security chief is, however, upbeat at the trend towards peace in Africa, with the trouble spots such as Burundi, Cote’d’Ivoire, Uganda and the Central Africa Republic showing signs “towards a general exit from the crisis.” According to Ambassador Lamamra “These are irreversible and good examples.”

Africa’s other trouble spots, Somalia and the Sudan, in the fifth category of the conflict zones in Africa, are likely to change fast, depending on the successes of the AU’s own actions and efforts to guide the situation towards success, the AU official explained.

Resurgence of coups

However, the militay coups or attempted coups in Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania, considered the second worst kind of political crimes, ranked closely to low-level conflicts and slightly below such serious crimes as terrorism, also featured on the state of Africa’s security.

“The sixth category– the resurgence of coup d’Etats, with two successful and one failed attempt in Guinea-Bissau, also came as major issues. This is not accidental in the same sub-region. This is something sending a red signal on our screen,” the continent’s top security administrator said.

He said that the Commission was deeply worried about the other low-level conflicts between Niger and Mali in the northern region. “These are not open and intensive conflicts, but they are low intensity conflicts that (are) taking lives and must be stopped,” he said.

He classified hostage taking and other cross-border crimes along the Sahel region as category eight of the African conflicts. In this category, terrorism, hostage-taking and other inter-linked border crimes have emerged as a threat to stability.

The conflict situation is also worsened by the piracy problem along the Somali coastline and other ‘criminal phenomenon” which the AU official said threatened the safety of Africa.

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