UN chief asks African leaders to uphold democracy

Source: Daily News

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked African leaders to respect the

Ban Ki Moon/Photo google.bi

will of the people and uphold democracy to facilitate lasting peace in their nations.

The UN chief made the appeal in his address at a two-day African Union (AU) Extra-ordinary Summit that deliberated on peace and security on the continent.

He said it was important for the African nations to elect leaders through the will of the people to avoid refusal of election results, which is of late a common problem in many countries.

Mr Ban said the recent political stalemate in Ivory Coast pitting former president Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Allasane Ouattara, who later drove the former out of office by force reflected the price paid for ignoring the will of the people through the ballot box.

« The Ivorian people did not accept this violation of their rights. Instead, they insisted on democracy and they prevailed, » he said, adding that what happened in Ivory Coast should serve as a lesson to other leaders.

« In doing so, they sent a message that political leaders, everywhere, must respect the will of the people, » he noted.

He lauded the AU for supporting the Ivorians. « The AU’s support to the Ivorian people was crucial in ending the crisis. Without the principled position taken by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other partners, the Ivorians would not have the fresh beginning being enjoyed today, » he said.

Mr Ban remarks on the situation in Sudan were even more impassioned.

« We must all impress on the parties that military confrontation in Abyei is not an option, » he said. He also expressed deep concern over the situation in Darfur.

The UN chief expressed his pride about the achievement in Somalia by African Union Mission in Somalis (AMISOM).

« I commend the courage and commitment of the leaders and soldiers of Uganda, Burundi and Transitional Federal Government (TFG), » he said.

Mr Ban rounded of his speech by calling for an end to violence in Libya.

« Despite some speculation about differences, all of us, condemn the violent events. He said the world recognised the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, dignity and justice.

He told the session that he had sent his Special Envoy Mr Abdelilah Al-Khatib seven times to Libya to persuade both parties to hold discussions for a political process for transition.

The UN chief strongly condemned the war in Libya because « the main victims of the heavy fighting in the densely populated areas are unarmed Libyans and foreign migrant workers trapped by the fighting, » he said.

Meanwhile, the AU has called for a political solution to Libya’s protracted conflict, weighing in once more on the crisis though its proposals have largely been ignored.

The pan-African bloc has called for a ceasefire and set up a high-level mediation team, but its efforts have had little effect on the ground as Western powers continue with air raids against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

« I am convinced that only a political solution can lead to a lasting peace and satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, » said Jean Ping, head of the AU Commission, the pan-African bloc’s executive body on Wednesday.

« The situation in Libya remains a serious concern for us, for the future of Libya itself as well as for regional countries. Unfortunately the current situation on the ground and lack of co-ordination of international efforts do not favour the search for a solution, » he added.

The AU is opposed to the international military action against the Libyan regime and last month proposed a ceasefire plan, which was rejected by the Libyan rebels who insisted on Gaddafi’s departure first.

Mr Gaddafi himself, however, readily accepted the plan. The AU also proposed a transition period for negotiations to organise elections.

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