The fight against piracy and the stabilization of Somalia was at the heart of the discussions at the 10th Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which took place from August 28-29, 2010 in Ezulwini, Swaziland. The meeting, which included Ministers for Foreign Affairs from the 19 COMESA states, condemned the scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean and pressed for a common regional framework on combating piracy and the establishment of peace and security in Somalia.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean Paul Adam, briefed the meeting on the outcomes of the Ministerial Meeting on Piracy, the National Symposium on Piracy, and the IOC-COMESA workshop on Piracy held in Seychelles during May and July this year. The Minister urged the meeting to tackle all the aspect of piracy and described how piracy has become a hidden cost in goods throughout the region.
Seychelles and Mauritius proposed that the meeting adopt the five-point approach developed during the series of preceding meetings. The five points are: (1) The formulation of a sound maritime policy and the implementation of a comprehensive strategy at the regional level, with the involvement of the African Union and regional groupings; (2) enactment of appropriate laws at the national level to fight piracy effectively; (3) support for the continuous capacity building institutions and agencies and appropriate facilities at the national level for the prosecution of and imprisonment as appropriate of pirates; (4) effective coordination and collaboration by states at the regional levels; and (5) efficient collaboration with the international community.
The meeting unanimously adopted the proposals made by Seychelles and Mauritius and urged the upcoming Ministerial Meeting for European Union-Eastern And Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean due to be held in Mauritius in October to adopt and use the recommendation of the meeting to develop a strong regional framework on fighting piracy. Minister Adam welcomed Mauritius’ initiative to host a tribunal to try suspected pirates and all countries to do their part in combating this scourge.
In addition to piracy, the meeting discussed the various peace and security issues among member states. Madagascar, the Horn of Africa, and the Great lakes were widely discussed.
Recognizing that trade and development depends on peace and stability, COMESA member states have established a committee comprised of senior officials in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs called the “Committee on Peace and Security.” This committee sits at least once every year to discuss the modalities of peace and security in the region and its recommendations are further discussed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The committee and the ministers’ meetings focus on peace and security situation in the region and serve to enhance greater accountability and promote good governance.
The meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs agrees, at a policy level, on issues facing the existing conflicts and how best COMESA can address these issues. The ministers also discuss issues around post-conflict reconstruction within the lenses of structural conflict prevention. The COMESA Authority then considers the recommendations made and makes the appropriate decisions. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean Paul Adam represents Seychelles on the Ministerial Committee.
FORMER PRESIDENT MANCHAM ELECTED TO PEACE AND SECURITY BODY
The former President of the Republic of Seychelles, Sir James R. Mancham, was elected to the COMESA Committee of Elders for the COMESA Region, following his nomination by the government of Seychelles. His election took place at the 10th Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. The meeting elected a total of four new members to the committee.
The Committee of Elders was established during the 9th meeting of the COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs, in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in 2009 with the election of five elders to serve a period of four years on the COMESA program for Peace and Security. The elders advise the COMESA Council on peace security issues and serve as peace envoys. The functions of the elders will include facilitating fact finding missions, shuttle diplomacy, and leading election observer missions to member states. The elders will thus support the program with preventive diplomacy through their good offices. With the elections held in Swaziland, the total number of elders now stands at nine.
The already-serving elders include Mrs. Immaculée Nahayo of Burundi, Ambassador Soad A. Shalaby of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Ambassador Bethuel A. Kiplagat of the Republic of Kenya, Ambassador Anund Priyay Neewor of Mauritius, and Mr. Atem Garang Deng Deduek of the Republic of Sudan.
The newly-elected members are Sir James Mancham of the Republic of Seychelles, Ms. Betty Oyella Bigombe of the Republic of Uganda, Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako of the Republic of Zimbabwe. and Ambassador Berhane Ghebray of Ethiopia.
It should be noted that only eminent personalities with distinguished record in peace and security may be eligible for membership of the Committee of Elders. The newly-elected elders will be officially appointed by King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland at the Summit, in his capacity as chair of the COMESA Authority.
“The election of former President Mancham is testimony of the active role that Seychelles is playing in COMESA and we are proud to have a representative serving on this eminent Committee,” Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, Minister for Foreign Affairs has stated.
The Minister was leading the Seychelles delegation at the 10th edition of the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs which is part of the Policy Organs Meeting of COMESA which will culminate in the COMESA Summit on August 31 -September 1, 2010 in Ezulwini, Swaziland.