President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the African Union (AU) to urgently find a lasting solution to the perennial conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said the depressing news of the continuing and deepening crisis in the DRC, leading to the massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, was “a test of the effectiveness of the AU, which it cannot and must not fail.”
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he delivered the keynote address at an event on transformative governance in Africa, organised by the Kukah Centre in Abuja, Nigeria. The Kukah Centre is a Nigerian-based policy research institute.
The President said the conflict in the DRC had festered too long and it was time the Continental body rose to the occasion and found a lasting a solution to the tragic situation.
“That solution has to address the twin issues of the unity and stability of the Congolese state, and the establishment of democracy that will allow the Congolese people the opportunity in free and fair elections to choose their leaders,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He stressed the need for the Member States of the AU to demonstrate a commitment to strengthening and protecting the institutions and culture of democratic governance; respecting human rights and religious freedom.
They must also ensure the empowerment of women and the rights of the individual and minorities, build strong market economies and facilitate the free movements of people, knowledge, goods and services across member states.
“The time has now come for us in Africa to move on even further to deepen our democracy. It is time to make sure that we have genuine separation of powers between the various arms of government.
“Our Parliaments, the legislative arms of government, must grow into their proper roles as effective machineries for accountability and oversight of their Executives. Our Judiciaries must also inspire confidence in the citizens so we can all see the courts as ultimate, impartial arbiters when disputes arise, as they would,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that Africa could only confront and deal effectively with corruption only when its public institutions worked properly.
He applauded the systematic targeting of corruption by the administration of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, calling on all well-meaning Nigerians and Africans to support the crusade.
“It is early days yet, but our institutions are growing and the self-confidence of our people is become manifest. I dare say that we are even beginning to accept that a political party can lose an election with grace, and serve with honour in opposition,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said: “If we stop being beggars, govern ourselves intelligently and honestly in freedom and spend Africa’s monies inside the Continent, Africa would not need to ask for respect from anyone. We would get the respect we deserve.”
He was optimistic that stable democracies in Africa could help unleash energies to drive the transformation of the Continent.
“There is a lot of talk that this will be the Asian century, the Chinese century – but take it from me: the 21st century holds excellent prospects for Africa. This can be Africa’s century. We can claim it if we believe in ourselves,” he said.