JOHANNESBURG, Sporadic terror attacks and armed conflict in several African countries continue to hamper efforts to promote economic development and foster economic integration of continental markets.

Political instability and worsening security in countries like Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya and west African states of the Sahel came under discussion during the two-week plenary session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) which ended in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Friday.

Terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation, remain the main source on instability in Africa as attacks continue to take place in countries of the Lake Chad Basin region such as Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.

Somalia and Kenya, as well as Mali also continue to be targeted by terrorist groups.

Groups such as Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram, continue to expand their deadly activities in many parts of the continent. Over the years, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Commission have been grappling with efforts aimed at fighting terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation.

Last Saturday, more than 300 people died after twin bomb explosions in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Presenting a report on "The Status of Peace and Security in Africa" on behalf of the AU-PSC, Kenya's Permanent Representative to the AU, Ambassador Catherine Mwangi, described the Somali political and security situation as extremely volatile.

Mwangi said: "I wish to state categorically, that although the fighting capacity of Al Shabaab has been significantly degraded, the group still retains the capacity to launch asymmetric warfare attacks such as suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) targeting not only symbols of the Federal Government, including government officials but also AMISOM (AU Mission in Somalia) troops and facilities."

The re-admission of Morocco as a member of the AU, meanwhile, continues to be a divisive issue. Morocco occupied two-thirds of Western Sahara in 1975 after the withdrawal of the colonial power, Spain and most African countries, including South Africa, have led diplomatic efforts for the independence of Western Sahara.

Some diplomats have argued that the re-admission of Morocco to the AU after almost 33 years of absence, would divide the continental body.

South African parliamentarian and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Deputy President Floyd Shivambu expressed regret at the decision to formally endorse Morocco's membership of the PAP. "We are saddened that Morocco had to be re-admitted to the African Union and to the Pan African Parliament which is wrong because the isolation of Morocco was that it be not treated as a legitimate country because it's a colonizer country."

Mwangi emphasized that in order to achieve the AU Commission's goal of silencing the guns in Africa by the year 2020, it is critical to enhance conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and development capacities of affected countries.

"It is in this regard that I would like to encourage all AU sister organs, particularly this very Parliament, to also take full advantage of all available tools for structural conflict prevention, among others, by ensuring our respective governments to be more transparent and accountable to the people and also to be responsive to the legitimate demands of the people."

The AU-PSC stressed that in order to supplement continental peace initiatives there is a need for governments to implement socio-economic development projects in communities liberated from terror groups and rehabilitation of former terrorists who would have defected.


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