MADRID, 18 Oct. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The special representative of the European Union (EU) for the Sahel, Ángel Losada Fernández, stressed that the Sahel is facing “a perfect storm” faced by the region and the countries that comprise it, at the same time as that this area of the African continent is part of a “crisis zone”.
Losada Fernández said during an event organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that the Sahel faces many crises “at the same time”, including those of security, economy, demography, humanitarian situation, migration and radicalization ” , although he has emphasized that the most relevant is governance.
“What has happened in Mali shows us perfectly that it is a crisis of governance,” he said, referring to the situation in the country, shaken by the deterioration of security and that in August was the scene of a coup d’état that removed the then president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, from power.
Likewise, he has pointed out that there is “a problem in the fight against impunity and with Human Rights”, which “shows how weak many of these states are and how difficult it is for them to face all the problems they suffer” .
“This lack of governance is not only between leaders and the population, but also from a territorial point of view, given the inability of the State to govern these countries (…), which are very large,” he explained. “A state vacuum is oxygen for terrorists,” he pointed out.
Losada Fernández has highlighted the importance of the “demographic crisis” in the region, especially since the climate crisis is causing “that there are more people in less land due to the advance of the desert”, which catalyzes intercommunity confrontations “accentuated by groups outsiders taking advantage of them. “
Thus, he explained that this causes a migration crisis, although he said that “we must not forget” that “90 percent” of this migration occurs within Africa and not towards the northern countries, in the direction of Europe.
On the other hand, it has opted for “renewing the strategy” on the concepts of “ownership” and “coordination” in order to “not fail”. “The situation can make it possible to say that it has failed, but not totally,” he argued.
Losada Fernández has indicated that “there can be no peace in the Sahel without peace in Mali”, for which he has defended that the 2015 peace agreement “is fundamental.” However, he has maintained that it has been launched “very, very slowly” and has recalled that “there is no ‘plan B'”.
The EU representative has shown his “hope” that the situation will receive a boost with the transitional government, given that the president and vice president have military backgrounds and that four ministers are members of rebel groups. “There are no excuses,” he pointed out.
Finally, he has asked to see the Sahel as “a polygon of opportunity and cooperation” and has advocated for better coordinating the structures that operate in the region, including the EU, France, the United States, the United Nations, the Economic Community of States of West Africa (ECOWAS) and the G5 Sahel.
LEAVE THE COMPETITION
The executive secretary of the G5 Sahel, Maman Sidikou, has expressed himself in this line, who has said that “the partners must cooperate, instead of competing”. “It can be a problem if there is no more cooperation between the partners,” he argued.
“Trying to coordinate the intervention has high costs,” he pointed out. “We cannot afford competition between partners if we want to make a difference in the lives of the Sahel population,” he pointed out during the event organized by the CSIS.
Thus, he said that “the real challenges to peace and security in the Sahel are external and internal.” “We need a stable environment. Unfortunately for us, the situation in Libya remains a concern for the G5 Sahel member states,” he added.
Sidikou has emphasized that “local content matters” and has agreed with Losada Fernández that “legitimacy is key”. “It is necessary to guarantee that the citizens of the Sahel see how the leaders make a difference,” he added.
“We have to improve the way we work (…) and be able to present our achievements. Perception and perspectives matter. Communication is key, not propaganda,” he said, while defending that ” trust is only earned through tangible steps. “
In this sense, he has argued that “a hungry man is an angry man” and has stressed the need for the authorities to “meet the basic needs of the population” and to “change the paradigm towards the tangible.”
THE “DISEASE” OF LACK OF LEGITIMACY
The US special envoy for the region, Peter Pham, has agreed on the need for “greater coordination”, both within the US government and between Washington and foreign partners in the Sahel.
“Our objective is African states capable and willing to deal with the problems of insecurity and the underlying catalysts of this insecurity to prevent the spread of violence in the region,” he said.
“The crisis in the region is not one of security. Insecurity is a symptom of the underlying disease, which is one of state legitimacy. Of the contract between those who govern and the governed, of services, of the inclusion of citizens and populations, especially those on the peripheries of these countries, “he argued.
In this sense, he has argued that the diversification of programs in the region “is not bad”, although he has stated that “the multiplication of structures does not imply more results on the ground”, for which he has called for “relations promoted at the national and local “.
Pham has given as an example the transition ‘roadmap’ in Mali following the unity shown by international organizations, including ECOWAS and the G5 Sahel. Likewise, he has said that, although the elections are the objective of this process, “they are not a talisman”, for which he has asked “to address the existing problems along the way.”
EXPANSION OF THE THREAT ON THE CONTINENT
The French Defense Minister, Florence Parly, who has participated through a recorded message, has said that “a step in favor of peace in the Sahel is a step towards security in Europe” and has recognized that the “first Concern “are extremist organizations such as the Islam and Muslim Support Group (JNIM), the Al Qaeda branch in Mali, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and Boko Haram.
“These groups directly threaten democracy and Human Rights,” he indicated, before highlighting that “the insecurity belt is developing from North Africa to the Gulf of Guinea, with the risk that the threat will spread to all areas West and Central Africa “.
Parly has defended the need to “closely monitor” the transition in Mali. “We must collectively ensure that Mali is on the right path to constitutional order and free and fair elections. Without political stability and strong state authorities capable of restoring confidence and development in its territory, there can be no lasting peace. “, has argued.
“The only solution to eradicate terrorism in the Sahel is to work together and apply a global response that links development and security,” he said, before emphasizing the need to “coordinate these actions.”
Finally, he stressed that “progress is being made, step by step”. “We can be proud of what has been achieved so far,” he said. “The fight must continue. We can be successful. Peace and stability in the Sahel is far away, but I believe that we are on the right path,” he concluded.