Today is Africa Day. It is observed annually on 25 May, to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was created on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The OAU is the precursor of the African Union (AU). The day is observed as an official national holiday in Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Namibia, Zambia, Mali, Mauritania, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
This year marks the 57th anniversary of Africa Day. Besides celebrating Africa’s decolonisation, it is also a day of sober reflection on how African countries can consolidate peace and democracy on the continent. Africa faces a myriad of daunting challenges that seek solutions
Marking Africa Day, António Guterres said in his message that the pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063.
The AU has established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support, said the UN chief. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts.
He noted that the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention established a response fund, while African Member States have undertaken “robust measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the socio-economic impacts.”
Mr. Guterres welcomed the AU’s support for his global ceasefire call, an imperative that also reflects the AU’s 2020 theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”
“Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral ceasefires. I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls”, he continued.
Some 20 African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year, some of which are likely to be postponed due to the pandemic, with potential consequences for stability and peace, noted the Secretary-General.
“I urge African political actors to engage in inclusive and sustained political dialogue to ease tensions around elections and uphold democratic practices,” stated the UN Secretary-General.