AU summit an opportunity for leaders to address issues plaguing the continent - Human Rights Watch

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  • Some African heads of state will miss the AU summit in Equatorial Guinea.
  • They will be attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
  • Human Rights Watch urged the AU to address terrorism as well as unconstitutional changes of government.

The African Union (AU) will on Wednesday host the Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

At the same time, some African leaders will be attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Some of the presidents at the WEF are Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa, Namibia's Hage Geingob, Botswana's Keabetswe Masisi, and Rwanda's Paul Kagame.

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi is one of the African leaders who did not make the trip to Davos. His country is faced with an almost five-year insurgency in the Cabo Delgado province.

The minister of mineral resources and energy, Carlos Zacarias, went in his place.

The AU summit coincides with the 25 May celebrations to honour Africa Day, and will run until 28 May.

Africa Day commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963, which is the AU's predecessor.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement, said the summit was an opportunity for African leaders to address various issues.

"The summit is an opportunity for the continent's leaders to address continuing political repression, entrenched impunity, disregard for constitutional term limits, and election rigging," HRW said.

Since 2021, the continent has experienced five coups and there are growing Islamist insurgent activities in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Somalia and the Sahel.

On Sunday, the M23 militia force, which is active in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), attacked peacekeepers of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in Rutshuru, North Kivu.

The president of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has since called on M23 to adhere to the Nairobi peace talks initiative.

"The president of the commission calls on the rebels of the M23 to definitively lay down their arms, to cease all hostility, and to subscribe to the spirit of the Nairobi process for a resolution of the crisis in the east of the DRC," he said in a statement.

On 28 April, the first round of talks between the DRC and rebel outfits was held in Nairobi, Kenya.

About 30 delegations representing armed groups attended, while some armed groups didn't turn up.

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In the Sahel region, HRW said: "Responses by governments and their Western partners need to go beyond the security dimensions of the crisis and consider the underlying, deep-rooted social and political factors." 

In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, there are well-documented abuses by state security in their counter-terrorism initiatives.

Governments at the summit were urged to discuss how they intended to deliver justice to victims and their families.

There is presently a diplomatic tiff between the DRC and Rwanda.

The Rwanda Defence Force on Monday accused DRC forces of shelling Rwandan territory, which resulted in civilian injuries. It has since called on the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism to investigate the matter. 

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation

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