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African Union Opens Post-Conflict Center to Help Countries Escape Cycle of Violence

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To improve the political stability of African nations, the African Union recently launched its Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD).

The new agency is based in Egypt and mandated to provide countries recovering from conflicts with specialized technical support. It will work closely with the African Union Commission to help keep countries from falling back into conflict based on a framework adopted in Banjul, The Gambia, in 2006.

PCRD aims to address the needs of countries emerging from conflict with strategies to prevent disputes from escalating, avoiding relapses into violence, determining the root causes of conflict and consolidating gains to produce sustainable peace.

Even after a nation’s conflict formally ends, vestiges of the old order can continue to affect the post-conflict environment, Sandra Adong Oder, coordinator of the AU PCRD unit, wrote in a statement published by the South Africa-based African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes.

“The extent to which these are managed can affect sustainable peace,” Oder wrote.

One part of the center’s mission is to increase the presence of government in areas that have been neglected. Governmental neglect causes resentment and can allow extremists to fill the void and curry favor with locals.

Oder cited the Lake Chad Basin as one region that could benefit from a stronger government presence. Increasing government support would offset the power of groups such as Islamic State West Africa Province, which has assumed some functions usually performed by government.

“Such actions inhibit national cohesion,” Oder wrote.

Through the new center, governments can undercut those nonstate groups, but citizens in those regions must see the government playing a leadership role, she added.

Over the past year, Africa has led the world in coups and internal conflicts. That includes Mali, which experienced back-to-back coups, as well as the Central African Republic, where Russian mercenaries with the Wagner Group have exacerbated the ongoing armed conflict between the sitting president and militias backed by his former rival.

Supporters of the PCRD process hope to recreate the AU’s successful intervention in The Gambia in 2017. The teams of advisors deployed that year helped smooth the transition from long-time leader Yahya Jammeh, who took power in a coup in 1994, to President Adama Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in elections in 2016.

Jammeh’s early refusal to acknowledge Barrow’s victory prompted a strong response from the AU and other regional and international organizations. Ultimately, Jammeh relented and allowed the AU to assist in the peaceful transition of power. Jammeh fled into exile.

After Barrow’s election, democracy watchdog Freedom House raised its ranking of The Gambia from “not free” to “partly free.” Barrow was reelected peacefully in December.

The approach in The Gambia should serve as the model for future interventions, Oder said.

“The centrality of PCRD as a means for sustainable peace cannot be underestimated,” she added.

1 Comment
  1. Dr Michael Njunga Mulikita says

    Is this the AU version of the UN Peace Building Commission?

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