The maiden Kofi Annan Peace and Security forum convened under the theme ‘Peace Operations in the Context of Violent Extremism in Africa.”
The highlight of the first day of the two-day event at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel was the high-level panel constituting past presidents from Sub-Saharan Africa.
The forum is meant to be an annual international platform that brings together political leaders, diplomats and other experts to dialogue on security trends in Africa.
On the panel, which was chaired by Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, were former Ghana President John Mahama, former Liberia President, Amos Sawyer, former Sierra Leone, President Ernest Koroma, former Burundi President, Pierre Buyoya, former Somalia President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and former C.A.R President, Catherine Samba-Panza.
Former Presidents of Ghana; Jerry John Rawlings and John Kufuor, as well as former South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki, were scheduled to appear on the panel but did not make it.
The keynote speaker for the panel session was security analyst and Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs & Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Dr. Kwesi Anning, who touched on, among other things, the need for improved training and resourcing of peacekeeping missions on the sub-region.
The former heads of state all addressed the forum and highlighted their nation’s struggles with extremism and other forms of civil strife and what they had done to overcome the struggles.
Though Ghana has non-violent encounters with extremists, Mr. Mahama stressed the need for resilient societies confidence in the state to combat growing extremism.
Before the panel session, there was an opening ceremony graced by President Nana Akufo-Addo and other security chiefs like the Inspector General of Police, COP James Oppong-Boanuh, the Director-General of the Criminal investigations Department, COP Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah and the Chief of Defense Staff, Lt. Gen. Obed Akwa.
President Akufo-Addo urged African leaders to prioritise access to education for Africa’s youth as a means to combating terrorism and violent extremism.
Other distinguished guests included members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from various sub-region bodies including the United Nations Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
Tribute was paid to former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Anan, who died on August 18, 2018, to the gratitude of his widow, Nane Lagergren, who was present.
Midway through the event, the President departed to cut the sod for the construction of a monument in honour of the late UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, at the premises of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.
The forum is a flagship initiative organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in collaboration with the German and Norwegian governments.