Angola is developing a work that allows it to raise its level of diplomatic visibility and strategic engagement in defence and continental security issues, while the agenda of the United Nations Security Council continues to devote 60 percent of its debates to conflicts in Africa.
In this sense, the country is carefully and attentively considering its return to the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) scheduled for March 2024, in a context where, in different states of the continent political crises persist due to problems of inclusion and national cohesion.
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The information was disclosed to ANGOP Saturday by the Permanent Representative to the AU and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Angola to Ethiopia, José da Cruz, in an interview on “The impact of Angolan diplomacy in the projection of the country’s image in Africa”.
In the diplomat’s opinion, the need for an approach on the causes of conflicts and how to avoid them is becoming more and more pressing, and “Angola has played an important role” with political and diplomatic initiatives for peace and security of the continent.
“For having lived through long and difficult years of conflict and managed to achieve peace and national reconciliation in 2002, Angola has gained extensive experience in conflict resolution that it has been making available at the service of Africa’s stability and development,” Mr Cruz assured.
According to the ambassador, this is reflected in Angola’s chairmanship of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and in its efforts to mediate the political crisis between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
To Francisco da Cruz, Angola’s involvement in maritime and energy security issues has also been recognised, especially in the quest for sustainable solutions to respond to the challenges facing the Gulf of Guinea region, a fact that reinforces its political authority and diplomatic credibility on the international peace and security agenda.
Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa
The ambassador stressed that due to the diplomatic commitment of the President of Angola, João Lourenço, to prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa he was named “AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa” at the 16th AU Summit on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Change of Governments in Africa, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 28 May 2022.
The distinction, the diplomat said, adds more responsibility to the Angolan statesman as a Pan-African leader in the quest for more participative and inclusive forms of governance that contribute to the consolidation of a culture of peace and dialogue in Africa.
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Cruz added that the Angolan President, as a AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation, should lead the mobilisation of political support and cooperation from member states at sub-regional, regional and continental levels, as well as galvanise international support to prioritise conflict prevention, management and resolution on the continent.
It is in this context that on January 31, João Lourenço led the launch of the “Peace and Reconciliation Day in Africa”, which will be celebrated every year, with the aim of promoting greater citizen participation, political inclusion and ownership of peace negotiation processes for stability and development in Africa, the ambassador said.
Role in regional and international organisations
The diplomat said that, within the scope of its strategy of diplomatic inclusion in the international arena, Angola seeks to play an increasingly assertive role in regional and international organisations, since it considers necessary its participation in initiatives that aim to consolidate peace and security in Africa, given its experience in conflict prevention, management and resolution.
To the Angolan diplomacy, states should know how to defend their national interests and preserve their sovereignty and independence, favouring peaceful and inclusive ways of settling conflicts and overcoming possible disputes, within the respect of the law and of Human Rights,” Francisco da Cruz explained.
The diplomat added that the exchange of experiences and information on national reconciliation initiatives contributes to the creation of a dynamics in favour of achieving the AU’s strategic objective of silencing the arms trade on the continent.
When it comes to the theme of reconciliation in Africa and elsewhere, Angola is often a reference for the way it conducted its own peace and national unity process “which resulted in the creation of an environment of political inclusion and democratic participation among them, regardless of their party options,” Cruz said.
Mandates on the Peace and Security Council
Angola’s last mandate at the PSC, which is the AU’s main organ responsible for ensuring peace and security in Africa, dates from March 2018 to March 2020.
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During that period, it assumed twice the monthly rotating presidency, having organised a meeting at ministerial level, in New York (USA), in September 2018, on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, on the theme “The State of Peace and Security in Africa and the Steps Taken in Promoting African Solutions to African Problems”.
In the same condition it hosted in the Angolan capital, Luanda, in December 2019, another session of the PSC, in which “National Reconciliation, Restoration of Peace, Security and the Rebuilding of Cohesion in Africa” was discussed.
Promoting a culture of peace
The diplomat added that the Angolan government is also committed to promoting a culture of peace and reconciliation on the continent, as evidenced by the holding of two editions of the Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace in Africa – Luanda Biennial, in September 2019 and October 2021, in partnership with the AU and UNESCO.
To the ambassador, the Luanda Biennial, whose third edition will take place in October 2023, “aims to promote, in a permanent and firm manner, a culture of peace that contributes to the strengthening of national unity and implies an unequivocal rejection, individually and collectively, of divisions and violence”.
In his view, this (violence) has affected, with serious political, economic and social consequences, many countries in Africa, particularly in the Great Lakes Region, thus undermining the strategic objective of silencing the arms on the continent.
The ambassador, who is also the Permanent Representative to the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said Angola’s economic diplomacy is aligned with the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) deepening economic integration.
The diplomat explained that the AfCFTA aim is to promote and achieve sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality, industrialisation, agricultural development, food security, structural transformation and inclusive human development.
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According to Francisco da Cruz, all AU members will benefit from the silencing of weapons in Africa, since it will promote the full realisation of the AfCFTA, which is a 2063 flagship project aimed at creating a single African market for goods and services facilitated by the free movement of people and capital.