More than 70 Heads of State will gather this week to attend the 21st Africa Union summit which coincides with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the continental institution. The summit’s theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” will unfold with a call for Africans to “realize the dream of the founding fathers for a peaceful, prosperous, and united Africa”. Despite the backdrop of this celebratory atmosphere, discussions of the many challenges and conflicts taking place in several regions throughout the continent will also be on the agenda.
A coalition of over 120 civil society organizations from African and the Middle East issued a joint statement calling on the A.U. to “use this anniversary not just to mark but to make history by supporting a new, bolder and comprehensive approach to Sudan’s conflicts.” The statement further cites that 4.4 million people have been affected by the drastic consequences of escalating wars in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Secretary of State John Kerry will be attending the A.U. Summit and has a significant opportunity to amplify this call for action on Sudan when meeting with African leaders this Friday and Saturday. Secretary Kerry will also be engaging in an interview with BBC HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi on Sunday, May 26. Questions will be answered from a live-stream audience. To submit your questions, visit the BBC HARDtalk's site here.
Full Coalition Statement:
This week our leaders will gather to celebrate 50 years of African unity and we celebrate with them in recognising the significance and success so far of Pan Africanism. However, whilst we mark such progress, the situation in Sudan is deteriorating at an alarming rate.
Across the country, 4.4 million people have been affected by the drastic consequences of escalating wars in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Millions are dependent on food aid or living in supposedly ‘temporary’ camps. In recent weeks, the conflict has spread nearer the capital into North Kordofan in the context of an increasing alliance between rebel movements.
Furthermore, the recent assassination of the Paramount Chief Kuol Deng, a prominent leader of the Dinka Ngok communities, in the disputed territory of Abyei has reminded us that the fragile peace between Sudan and South Sudan could be shattered so very easily.
We need to tackle the fundamental drivers of the country’s multiple conflicts and acknowledge that the many groups taking up arms against the Government share common grievances that demand a common approach. As a broad coalition of over 120 civil society organisations from across Africa and the Middle East, we call on the AU to use this anniversary not just to mark but to make history by supporting a new, bolder and comprehensive approach to Sudan’s conflicts.
Photo: Heads of the African States pose in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the African Union Conference in January 2013. (AP)