24.11.2022 Author: Vladimir Danilov

Africa to fortify the architecture of peace and security on the continent

In recent decades, the issue of ensuring the security of African states has become particularly acute. This is as a matter of fact, due to the numerous problems that have accumulated on the continent, including high levels of poverty, the dissatisfaction of the population of several countries with the policies of the authorities, territorial claims, disagreements on an ethnic, religious, and political basis, the continuing activities of a number of terrorist groups that have provoked armed conflicts of varying intensity.

The existing universal instrument represented by the United Nations sometimes did not have the time to respond adequately and effectively to the numerous challenges and crises on the African continent, and the individual actions taken sometimes did not satisfy all interested parties.

Under these conditions, African leaders established their own system in 2003 within the framework of the African Union (AU) – the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) –intended to provide timely and adequate responses to emerging threats at the intra- and interstate levels. However, due to a lack of funding, inefficient management, and a lack of consensus among African leaders on issues related to ensuring stability on the continent, many components of this structure are still not functioning at full capacity.

In this regard, the issues of ensuring security in Africa are increasingly coordinated in the relations between individual African states, which through joint efforts seek to address the common dangers and the threats posed by criminal structures.

For example, criminal activity by radical militants who kidnap civilians for ransom has recently increased significantly against residents of Cameroon and the Central African Republic. After government forces begin an operation against the militants in one of these countries, the militants move with the hostages into the territory of a neighboring country and continue their predatory activities there. In the last three months alone, the radical militants have captured more than 80 people and demanded a ransom of $20,000 on average for each kidnapping, which is an unaffordable sum for local residents. According to information provided by authorities, the terrorists enter mainly from Chad. For fear of becoming hostages of terrorists, farmers in the northern regions of Cameroon do not go to work, and many residents leave the villages and plantations, which has a very negative impact on security and agriculture. Under these conditions, the defense ministers of Cameroon and the Central African Republic have agreed to deploy their military contingents near the common border to combat this threat.

Similar problems with increasing gang activity have been observed in the border areas of Mali. This was addressed on October 10 between Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara and his Ugandan counterpart Vincent Ssempijja, and is reflected in the military cooperation agreement signed between the countries.

The terrorist threat and the failure of the former president of Burkina Faso to deal with it led to a change in leadership in that country in October. As a result of the military coup, Captain Ibrahim Traore assumed leadership in Burkina Faso. On November 13, Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara and his Burkinabe counterpart Kassoum Coulibaly discussed the recent security crisis in West Africa and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, particularly against radicals near their shared border. A wave of mass support from the inhabitants of Burkina Faso for strengthening the security of their own state has led in recent days to the registration of more than 25 thousand volunteers in the ranks of the Burkinabe armed forces to defend the country. In order to legally regulate the activities of volunteers in the country, the Council of Ministers of Burkina Faso adopted a law on the creation of volunteer units as part of the national security forces. The resulting Brigades of Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) are deployed in internal service.

Against the backdrop of Kenya’s involvement in counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, the activities of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group (banned in Russia) have noticeably increased recently, particularly in northeastern Kenya. Under these circumstances, Kenyan President William Ruto has sent national troops to the Northern Rift Valley. Barracks for the military are to be built there on the orders of the Kenyan president. Units of the Kenyan Defense Forces will patrol the area and conduct operations to clear the region of criminal elements. In parallel, the Kenyan Cabinet of Ministers has approved the creation of special crime-fighting units from general units and rapid reaction forces of the Ministry of Interior.

In light of ongoing attacks by extremist militants in the border area with Somalia, representatives of the national intelligence services of Kenya and Ethiopia signed an agreement on November 15 on the joint fight against terrorism. According to the law enforcement agencies of these countries, this document will help eliminate the vulnerability in the joint security systems that leads to destabilization of the situation. The African Union initiated the dialog between the representatives of law enforcement agencies of the two countries.

In order to successfully combat crime and extremism, the Security Watch African Initiative (SWAI) called on African states to share information on this issue at its annual conference in the Gambia on November 14. To this end, the forum participants decided to develop a legal framework on the basis of which the states of the region will exchange the necessary information without prejudice to national interests. At the same time, the head of SWAI, Patrick Agbambou, called for strengthening the judicial system of the countries in the region, holding regular consultations with platforms such as SADC and ECOWAS, and cooperating more closely in bilateral relations. The conferees also stressed the importance of active interaction with the African Union’s collective security body, which should become the main platform for resolving conflicts on the continent.

Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.

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