African remedy

THE decision by African leaders to set up a multi-national peacekeeping force, at the conclusion of the African Union summit in Sirte, Libya, is good in theory.

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Published: Sun 29 Feb 2004, 12:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:15 AM

The continent is wracked by civil wars and lawlessness, and therefore in urgent need of some kind of policing. So to the extent that the proposed African Standby Force will have the authority to intervene unilaterally in serious conflicts, it bodes well for the future of the continent. That said, African leaders should not confuse their priorities if they are to lift their peoples out of poverty and despair. What these nations need above all is economic and political reform, and for this purpose a multi-national security force is of little use. Intervening in border wars and internal conflicts is all very good provided governments of sub-Saharan Africa keep their part of the political bargain. And this means respecting the principles of democracy, human rights, free markets, independent judiciary and Press, and political accountability. In the absence of these conditions, no amount of internal or external policing can douse the flames of conflict in Africa. The root of all problems lies in corruption, misgovernance, nepotism and indifference to legitimate grievances - blights that are endemic to the continent. Once ordinary people cutting across ethnic, religious and tribal lines, feel they have rulers who care for them and are accountable for their actions, then Africa will not need any security force for there will be no more conflicts in that case.

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