Ramaphosa: Russia and Ukraine welcome African peace mission
The conflict in Europe is directly impacting African economies, and thus highlights the continent’s material interests in a peaceful resolution
President Cyril Ramaphosa says one of the main achievements of the African peace mission to Russia and Ukraine was the positive reception received from both countries.
Citing it as “encouraging”‚ Ramaphosa said this provided cause for optimism that their proposals will be given consideration.
“As African leaders‚ our primary concern is for the lives of the people directly affected by the conflict. We believe everything should be done to end the fighting to prevent further loss of life‚ injury‚ displacement and destruction‚” he said.
Ramaphosa was among a delegation of African presidents from Senegal‚ the Comoros and Zambia together with the prime minister of Egypt and envoys from the Republic of Congo and Uganda.
In his weekly newsletter‚ the president said the African delegation to Ukraine and the Russian Federation was a mission to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“Last Friday we met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the capital Kyiv‚ and with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Saturday.
“We presented a 10-point proposal that we as African leaders believe can contribute to efforts that have been made by parties to bring the conflict to an end‚” he said.
Included in the proposal, the president revealed, are calls for a de-escalation of fighting and for negotiations to start with urgency.
He said their proposal also covers the release of prisoners of war (POWs), the return of children abducted and taken to Russia‚ greater humanitarian support and reconstruction efforts.
“We affirmed the sovereignty of countries should be respected in line with the principles of the UN Charter. We highlighted the urgent need that the security of both nations should be guaranteed‚” he said.
Impact on Africa
Ramaphosa slammed the misconception that the conflict was far removed from the realities of African nations‚ saying the international community needed to work together to prevent further suffering.
“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is having a very real effect on African countries and economies. We made the point to the Ukrainian and Russian presidents that while we undertook this mission as members of the international community committed to peace building‚ we as the African continent also have a material interest in seeing a resolution to the conflict‚” he said.
The president said because Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of grains and producers of fertiliser destined for African markets‚ the conflict has “triggered a shortage of about 30-million tonnes of grains on the African continent‚ along with a sharp increase in cost”, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“African countries are negatively affected by the rising costs of food and energy. Supply-chain disruptions have caused a shortage of farming inputs, such as fertilisers, threatening the food security of a number of African countries‚” he said.
We believe everything should be done to end the fighting to prevent further loss of life‚ injury‚ displacement and destruction.President Cyril Ramaphosa
Another point of the peace proposal put forward by African leaders is for the opening up of the movement of grains across the Black Sea.
“This initiative has been historic in that it is the first time African leaders have embarked on a peace mission beyond the shores of the continent. Although the delegation comprised countries that have taken diverse positions on the UN resolutions on the conflict‚ the countries represented have all taken a non-aligned stance on this issue‚” he said.
The president said this has lent credibility to the mission and engendered trust from both sides.
“As South Africa, we continue to maintain our position that this conflict should be settled through negotiation and by diplomatic means, in line with the founding principles of the Non-Aligned Movement [NAM], and that it is in the collective interest of everyone that it come to an end soon,” he said
Ramaphosa said the toll on human life‚ the extensive destruction and the ripple effect on the global economy mean no country has been shielded.
“The conflict has caused instability‚ precipitated a humanitarian crisis and sent shock waves through vulnerable economies.”
The president said African leaders believe they can contribute to international efforts to bring about the conditions for a lasting peace in the region.
“Both Presidents Zelensky and Putin agreed to further engagements following this initial visit. As engagements with both parties and African leaders continue‚ it is our hope that ... a foundation can be set for a de-escalation of the conflict and negotiation‚ the two crucial preconditions for a lasting peace.”
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