The eighth meeting of senior officials of the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs)-Regional Mechanisms (RMs) has opened in Lusaka today.
The meeting will cover key areas of AU-RECs/RMs cooperation, relations on peace and security and collaboration in addressing conflicts and crisis situations on the continent.
In a keynote speech, Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabriel Namulambe said the promotion of peace, security and stability was a prerequisite to socio-economic development in the continent.
Mr. Namulambe noted that concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the African region were required to ensure that a conflict free continent is attained.
He said therefore that since the coming into force of the Peace and Security Council protocol in 2003, much progress has been made in operationalising key components of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)
He expressed hope that the progress made so far would be sustained adding that the continent should continue to collaborate in addressing peace and security situations in Africa.
“I would like to welcome the recent decision to establish the pan African network of the wise and regional panels which will go a long way in promoting common approaches to conflict prevention and mediation on the continent,” he said.
Mr. Namulambe has since urged delegates to adopt the recommendations and timelines with concrete follow up actions in order to strengthen collaboration in the promotion of peace in Africa.
And Mr. Namulambe has called on the delegates to attend the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly which will be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe next month.
Meanwhile, COMESA Assistant Secretary General Kipyego Cheluget has commended Zambia for the efforts it put in place to guarantee peace and stability in the region.
Dr. Cheluget said Zambia should be saluted not only for its role in liberating many countries in the continent but also for helping countries manage their conflicts.
He urged the delegates to embrace cooperation because this was one sure way of promoting and sustaining peace on the continent.
And speaking on behalf of the African Union Chairperson, AU Defence and Security Advisor Luis Inacio Muxito called on the region to begin formulating a new roadmap aligned to the AU 2014-2017 strategic plan.
Brigadier General Muxito said this was important as the APSA 2011-2013 roadmap is coming to an end this year.
He added that this would effectively guide programming of APSA at the AUC and the RECS.
Brig. General Muxito said the meetings for senior officials were central to the AU-RECs-RMs relationships because they provide a forum through which the AU and the regional economic communities can monitor progress made in the Implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture.
He said this was one of the main priority areas under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the area of peace and security between the AU and the RECs/RMs signed in January 2008.
The MoU forms the foundation for the AU-RECs-RMs relations on peace and security, as required under Article 16 of the protocol relating to the establishment of the AU Peace and Security Council.
The three day meeting has drawn delegates from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East African Community (EAC) among others.