A common vision of Africa
France and Botswana pay much attention to the challenges faced by the African continent, and share the same vision of how to deal with them; the difficult situation faced by several African countries makes us realise how much Botswana is a positive exception. The country has enjoyed since its independence a long experience of democracy and good economic results and has achieved remarkable steps for its development. It has been the champion of growth and its prudent macro-economic policy has allowed a redistribution of wealth, and a unique protection of social balance. Botswana has obtained the respect from its neighbours, especially in the SADC region, by developing a moderate and responsible attitude that contributes a lot to the stabilization of southern Africa. Only Africans can make a difference in Africa, and it is within this scope that France wants to contribute to the development of Africa. At the halfway point in the timetable for the Millennium Goals, we must therefore continue our efforts for their achievement.
More than ever, it is necessary to join our forces to obtain peace and security on the whole continent. The most tragic of the African conflicts nowadays remains the crisis in Darfur. The suffering of the population places responsibility on us. This is why France is fully involved and called the international community to demonstrate its determination to act after the meeting of the enlarged contact group on 25 June in Paris. France, in cooperation with the United Kingdom, has not spared its efforts in the process which led to the recent United Nations Security Council’s adoption (31, July 2007) of the resolution 1769 creating UNAMID, the United Nations/African Union Hybrid operation to bring security to Darfur. Once deployed, UNAMID will number 26,000 troops on the ground. It will consequently be the largest current peacekeeping operation in the world. This decision is a success, but the force must now be deployed as quickly as possible.
To further mobilize the international community to address the challenges faced by Africa, notably peace and security, France, on the occasion of its Presidency of the Council during the General Assembly of the United Nations in September, took the initiative of convening an exceptional meeting of the Security Council, in New York, at the level of Heads of State and Government; it was the third time since 1945 that a meeting at such level was organized. On this occasion, at France’s initiative, the UN Security Council voted the resolution 1778 approving the deployment of an international force provided by the UN and EU in eastern Chad and the north-eastern part of the Central African Republic, aimed at providing a lasting solution to the crisis in Darfur and its consequences on the neighbouring countries (refugee and displaced populations). The multidimensional presence will have a military component assured by the EU, with a substantial troop contribution made by France, (who will also host the operational head-quarters) and a law enforcement component for which the UN will be responsible.
We hail Botswana for its presence in Darfur within both the African Union and the United Nations’ forces, and for its role this year in the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. It is also remarkable that the General Secretary of the United Nations appointed last year a Motswana citizen, who had himself participated to several peace-keeping operations in Africa, as his Special Counsellor for Africa.