By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Chief Lloyd Austin, joined several key leaders from Africa to discuss Peace, Security and Governance issues at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Biden administration’s three-day gathering brought leaders from across the African continent to discuss ways to strengthen ties and promote shared priorities with the United States. A total of 49 African heads of state and the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, were guests at this high-level meeting.
The continent’s leaders, often feel have been given short shrift by leading economies, remains crucial to global powers because of its rapidly growing population, significant natural resources and the sizable voting bloc in the United Nations. The summit aimed at reviving US relations with the African continent, suspended by former President Donald Trump, at a time when China and Russia are advancing their pawns in the region.
Hosting leaders and senior officials in a not-so-subtle pitch to convince guests that the U.S. offers a better option to African partners. “We want to understand what’s what’s really important to you,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“We want to make sure that we are doing the things to develop and empower your security forces and help you work on your security architecture in ways that you think benefit you, and that certainly will promote regional stability,” he explained.
In his contribution, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said the United States is providing bilateral support to a number of African countries, including Niger, Mozambique, Somalia and Chad. But, he said, that African armies are still under-equipped. “No one is listening to the cries of Africa when it comes to the extension of this scourge,” he said.
During the discussion, Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, spoke about how the terrorist group, al-Shabaab, controlled large portions of Somalia’s rural areas. “Shabaab, or terrorists anywhere they are, cannot be defeated militarily only,” he said.
At the panel discussions, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was very outspoken, shared valuable experiences with the audience about the use of well-constituted regional military force for enforcing peace and security in Mozambique.
The Joint Forces of the Southern African Development Community are keeping peace in northern Mozambique. The rules, standards and policies, provision of the assistance as well as the legal instruments and practices are based on the protocols of building and security stipulated by the African Union. It, therefore, falls within the framework of peace and security requirements of the African Union.
Now, Mozambique has relative peace and stability after the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) had finally approved the deployment of joint military force with the primary responsibility of ensuring peace and stability, and for restoring normalcy in the Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.
He told the panelists that there have been “remarkable progress” as businesses have restarted and displaced people began returning to Cabo Delgado. He, therefore, urged adopting ‘African solutions to African problems’ on peace and security, saying further that in the their case it was above all necessary to establish the motivation for terrorism in Mozambique in order to respond to the situation in Cabo Delgado.
The Mozambican president said that the partnership with the forces of SADC and Rwanda was an example that “African problems must first seek solutions within the continent itself” and it was vital to “educate young people” so that “they might not find in poverty a reason” to join the terrorists.
With authority, he called for more external assistance for improving the capacity of African partners to advance regional stability and security and reducing the threat from terrorist groups across Africa.
At the Peace, Security and Governance Forum, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, Filipe Nyusi highlighted the support of Rwandan and SADC forces, saying that Mozambique has created an environment where there is involvement of the region.
According to the U.S. State Department noted in a report that “shared global and regional priorities, including areas of cooperation during Mozambique’s first and historic term on the UN Security Council in 2023-2024.” And that U.S. has reaffirmed its strategic partnership for the promotion of peace, stability and global health security across Africa.
Blinken highlighted the impact of the United States’ strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability as a complement to government and civil society efforts in northern Mozambique.
“We look forward to our collaboration when Mozambique becomes a member of the UN Security Council in January, but we are also strong partners – strong partners to help Mozambique build stability, strong partners to build global health together, addressing food insecurity, and we welcome that partnership. There is much to discuss tonight,” Blinken told Nyusi, quoted on the website.
The Joint Forces of the Southern African Development Community is part of a regional defence pact which allows military intervention to prevent the spread of conflict. That terrorism is a global threat, a problem that requires joint regional collective intervention, he explained.
The rules, standards and policies, provision of the assistance as well as the legal instruments and practices are based on the protocols of building and security stipulated by the African Union. It, therefore, falls within the framework of peace and security requirements of the African Union.
What is referred to as Islamic attacks and insurgency caused havoc and devastation in Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. The insurgency began in 2017 and left an unimaginable negative effects on settlements of the civilian population, on business and industry operations.
The Joint Forces of the Southern African Development Community are keeping peace in northern Mozambique. It involves troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community Military Mission (SAMIM). Rwanda offered 1,000 in July 2021. South Africa has the largest contingent of around 1,500 troops. External countries are enormously helping to stabilize the situation in Mozambique. Its former colonizer Portugal and the United States both sent special forces to train local troops.
With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. It is member of the 16-member regional bloc which collectively promotes sustainable and socio-economic development, forge deeper cooperation and integration, ensure good governance as well as peace and security, so that the region emerges as a competitive and an effective player in the southern region, in Africa and the world.