Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dr Salim: Handle peace, stability with care

Tanzania has for a long time enjoyed political stability and peace but “we should not think our nation is better than others” in the troubled region, said Dr Salim Ahmed Salim during an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Algiers mid this week. He was commenting on the significance of the Panel of the Wise’s relevance to Tanzania and Africa in general. On Tuesday this week, the Panel of the Wise, to which Dr Salim is a member, concluded its 9th meeting held here for three days. It was established under Article 11 of the Protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) to support the efforts of the PSC and those of the AU Commission in conflict prevention, management and resolution, which is more relevant to today’s African realities than any other times.

Dr. Salim Ahamed Salim, former OAU (Now AU) Secretary general, currently is the chairman of Mwalimu Nyerere foundation.

Dr Salim said Tanzania’s political stability and peace was a result of the solid foundation built by the two founding fathers of the nations, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Abeid Amani Karume, and called on Tanzanians to cherish it. He said the aim of the Panel was to help shun political conflicts and violence by engaging prominent and independent personalities in mediation and reconciliation processes before the situation get worse. On Tanzania’s politics and the post general election, he said what was needed was for Tanzanians to engage in constructive debate and eventually deliberate on what the people wanted to happen, as far as constitutional reforms and prospects were concerned. “The English have a beautiful saying, which goes as; ‘when you take gin out of the bottle it’s difficult to put it back’ and so we should take care,” he said. He noted that although it was difficult to create an equal society in all aspects, it was nevertheless necessary to reduce socio-economic inequality – the gap between the rich and poor - by sharing equitably national resources and addressing pressing issues. “If we do not do this, we will find ourselves in trouble. So, we have to build on and cherish the good foundation we have. We can also learn from our friends - Algerians - to see how they have utilised and managed their natural resources like oil and gas to build their nation for the good of all citizens,” he explained. On religious sentiments, he said Tanzania was a good example, where neither religious nor ethnic discrimination was an issue. He noted that political leaders were to blame for they were the ones, who used religion or ethnicity, thinking doing so would earn them political popularity and victory. On Tuesday, the Panel of the Wise issued a communiqué in which it highlighted some deliberations to address current crises and consolidation of peace, where it had been restored. With particular concern, the Panel fully supported the decisions taken by the PSC, “urging Laurent Koudou Gbagbo of Ivory Coast to respect the will of the people and allow president-elect Alassane Dramane Ouattara to assume his duties in the best interests of the country, the region and Africa.” Besides Algerian Ahmed Ben Bella, the chairperson of the Panel, members include Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Dr Mary Chinery-Hesse, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and advocate Marie-Madeleine Kala Ngoy.


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