EDITORIAL: Lack of political will an impediment to war on terror in Africa

Kenya this week hosted an extraordinary summit of the African Union Peace and Security Council. The venue of the summit was particularly important considering the successive terror strikes against Kenya over the last few years, which have heavily affected the country's tourism.

Kenya this week hosted an extraordinary summit of the African Union Peace and Security Council. The venue of the summit was particularly important considering the successive terror strikes against Kenya over the last few years, which have heavily affected the country’s tourism.

The meeting, among others, resolved to urgently strengthen the continent’s counter-terrorism framework and early warning mechanisms to respond to the worrying trend of homegrown terrorism and violent extremism.

From the Sahel region and Nigeria to Eastern DR Congo and Somalia, violent extremists and terrorists have sustained a cowardly campaign of coldblooded murder in the communities where they operate and neighbouring countries.

Terrorism in Africa has thrived on the inaction and indifference that has characterised the majority of governments in the efforts to tackle this threat. This has affected the efficiency and relevance of the African Union as far as the campaign against terror is concerned.

While terrorism and fundamentalism is a serious global threat, African institutions such as the AU remain on the fringes of the international battle against terrorism and violent extremism, and this has greatly hurt the continent and its people.

This has created a vacuum, practically giving foreign actors a free hand in their interventions in Africa, which has sometimes only exacerbated the situation. That’s why Libya continues to bleed years after Gaddafi.

While Africa is not short of institutions or unable to mobilise the necessary resources to reverse the trend and build a safer, prosperous Africa, there is a lack of political goodwill among many leaders on the continent and, unless this is addressed, there is little that can be done to save Africa from the growing threat of terrorism.

A few countries have stepped forward to play their part in the quest for a more peaceful Africa, but such efforts are continuously undermined by their counterparts that have either decided to sit on the fence or support terror groups for whatever reason.

If all African countries steered away from providing safe havens to terrorists and supporting armed rebellions while cooperating with the rest of the continent in the fight against terrorism, such violent extremists and ideologues would not have foothold in Africa.

And that would help make African institutions such as the AU and the various regional economic communities more relevant in efforts toward building a more peaceful and prosperous Africa.

 

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