Botswana President's remarks to AU Summit: “the Africa We Want” will remain a dream as long as Western Sahara have not attained full independence

Gaborone (Botswana) 06 December 2020 (SPS)- The President of the Republic of Botswana, H.E. President Mokgweetsi E.K.Masisi, stressed in his remarks before the African Union Summit on Silencing the Guns, delivered Today by Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, Honourable Dr. Lemogang Kwape, that “the Africa We Want” will remain a dream as long as Western Sahara have not attained full independence.

“Chairperson, I am confident that we all know that the dream of “the Africa We Want” will remain just a dream as long as the people of Western Sahara have not attained their full independence and self-determination. Botswana wishes to reiterate her unwavering support for the liberation of Western Sahara,” President Masisi emphasised.

He indicated that Botswana “condemns in the strongest terms the recent attacks on peaceful Saharawi demonstrators in their own country, which has led to the current renewed armed conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco.”

He further stressed that Africans “can never enjoy real peace and security in Africa when a fellow member of the African Union continues to endure long years of suffering, turmoil and oppression at the behest of another Member State. We will continue to call on the international community to redouble the efforts to right the wrong that continue torment the peace-loving Saharawi people.”

For this end, he asserted, “there is no doubt that a conflict-free Africa, anchored on pillars of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, good neighbourliness and respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will be catalytic in fast-tracking Africa’s integration, economic transformation and the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This is so because more resources will be channelled towards development, as opposed to waging wars and mitigating the impact of conflicts on our economies.”

Below is the complete text of H.E. President Masisi’s remarks:

---------------------------------------------

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. MOKGWEETSI E. K. MASISI , PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 14TH EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF THE AFRICAN UNION HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT ON “SILENCING THE GUNS”

DELIVERED BY THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND COOPERATION, DR. LEMOGANG KWAPE ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

1. Let me join my other colleagues in commending you for the excellent manner with which you are steering the proceedings of our Meeting.

2. I also wish to pay special tribute to you, Chair, for your resolute and steadfast leadership of our Union during this difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic. I also note with appreciation the efforts by the African Union Commission and its organs, particularly the Africa Centre of Disease Control, for their unwavering commitment to alleviate and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

3. It is indeed petrifying to note the scientists’ warning that the full extent of this pandemic is still ahead, with some countries already battling the second wave. Even more worrisome is that the overall effect of COVID-19 is not just the challenge to our mitigation efforts in public health outbreaks. In some parts of the continent, the pandemic has exacerbated or triggered civil strife and conflicts, including suppression of basic human rights as Member States continue to enforce COVID-19 health protocols.

4. In this regard, I wish to commend the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Mr. Smail Chergui, and the African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns, Mr. Ramtane Lamamra, for including the COVID-19 in their reports as one of the serious threats to peace and security. I also commend them for their comprehensive and informative reports.

5. Chairperson, I believe we can all recall the sanctity and high level of purpose with which we adopted the 50th OAU/AU Anniversary Solemn Declaration, on 25 May 2013. Through the Declaration, we pledged not to bequeath the burden of wars to the next generations. We thus undertook to end all wars in Africa by the year 2020.

6. Yet, it took us almost five (5) years to launch the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa, which was only done in January 2017. I therefore strongly feel that we, as Leaders, betrayed the trust and confidence of our peoples. We simply failed our compatriots. As a result, the guns continue to deafen our Continent into economic stagnation, deprivation, poverty and disease.

7. We all know that our countries will never realise their full potential for development without peace and security. We also know that peace and security cannot be sustained without effective socio-economic development. I therefore hope that, through our deliberations today, we can, once again, as Leaders, recommit ourselves to do more, and in earnest, towards ending all conflicts on our Continent. This we owe to our peoples, as a way of creating a conducive environment for the upliftment of their livelihoods and the economic development of their Continent.

8. For this reason, our Theme for this year, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, couldn’t be more appropriate. It provides us with yet another opportunity not only to reflect and recommit ourselves, but also to fast-track our efforts towards the implementation of the Master Roadmap, so that we can realise “the Africa We Want”.

9. We all agree that the people of this Continent deserve better. The onus is clearly upon us as Leaders, to collectively forge ahead in delivering the long deferred dream of the people of Africa, “the Africa We Want”, as envisaged by the Solemn Declaration.

10. Chairperson, I am confident that we all know that the dream of “the Africa We Want” will remain just a dream as long as the people of Western Sahara have not attained their full independence and self-determination. Botswana wishes to reiterate her unwavering support for the liberation of Western Sahara.

11. We condemn in the strongest terms the recent attacks on peaceful Saharawi demonstrators in their own country, which has led to the current renewed armed conflict between Western Sahara and Morocco. We can never enjoy real peace and security in Africa when a fellow member of the African Union continues to endure long years of suffering, turmoil and oppression at the behest of another Member State. We will continue to call on the international community to redouble the efforts to right the wrong that continue torment the peace-loving Saharawi people.

12. There is no doubt that a conflict-free Africa, anchored on pillars of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, good neighbourliness and respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will be catalytic in fast-tracking Africa’s integration, economic transformation and the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This is so because more resources will be channelled towards development, as opposed to waging wars and mitigating the impact of conflicts on our economies.

13. I note with appreciation the successes registered so far in the endowment of the Revitalized Peace Fund, which is one of the key vehicles towards realising the Theme of the Year 2020. However, I wish to implore the relevant organs of the Union, particularly the AU Commission and the Peace and Security Council, to prioritise measures to mobilise additional resources aimed at implementing the Master Roadmap. In my view, this will assist in our efforts towards the realisation of our goal of “a conflict-free Africa”.

14. Mr. Chairperson, as we know, the year 2020 is drawing to its end, together with this year’s theme, “Silencing the Guns by Year 2020”. Since we still believe in the relevance of this theme as a flagship project of Agenda 2063, we believe it will be prudent for us to extend its lifespan beyond 2020, but with a robust monitoring mechanism to ensure full implementation of the Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa.

15. In concluding, Chairperson, I wish to once again express my commitment, and that of my Government, to do what we can, within our limited resources, to contribute to the efforts towards realising the vision of silencing the guns in Africa.

I thank you for your attention!" (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)