African nations launch peace initiative to end war in Ukraine


Six African leaders plan to travel to Russia and Ukraine “as soon as is possible” to help find a resolution to the war, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have agreed to receive the mission in both Moscow and Kyiv, Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said he had had “separate telephone calls” with Putin and Zelensky in early May, where he presented an initiative drawn up by Zambia, Senegal, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Egypt and South Africa.

“We’re hoping we will have intensive discussions,” he said at a press conference in Cape Town during a state visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the African Union (AU) have been briefed on the initiative and welcomed it, Ramaphosa added.

Ramaphosa did not give a specific timeline for the visit or other details, saying only that the conflict had been “devastating” and Africa “is also suffering a great deal” from it.

African countries have been badly hit by rising prices of grain and by the impact to world trade.

The announcement came a day after Ramaphosa said South Africa had been under “extraordinary pressure” to pick sides in the conflict, following US accusations that Pretoria supplied weapons to Moscow, a move that would break with its professed neutrality.

‘Cautious support’  

The mission will be the latest in a flurry of so-far unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to stop the war.

A Chinese special envoy was expected to arrive in Kyiv for a two-day visit on Tuesday to promote Beijing-led peace negotiations.

Last week Guterres told a Spanish newspaper that peace negotiations were “not possible at this moment” with both sides “convinced that they can win”.

But Ramaphosa said the African initiative had been met with “cautious support” in Washington and a number of European capitals visited by “facilitators” tasked with presenting the plan. The effort could help Pretoria rehabilitate its image as a neutral player and mediator, following accusations that it has drifted towards Russia.

The commander of South Africa’s ground forces was in Moscow to discuss military cooperation on Monday, in the latest of a series of incidents that critics cite as evidence of a tilt towards the Kremlin.

In May, the US envoy to Pretoria said that the United States believed weapons and ammunition had been laden onto a Russian freighter that docked at a Cape Town naval base in December.

But South Africa rejected the claim. According to a press release by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Pretoria launched a formal protest with the US Ambassador, Ruben Brigety, expressing “the South African Government’s utter displeasure with his conduct and statements … alleging that South Africa sold weapons to Russia.”

On Monday, Ramaphosa said South Africa would not be drawn “into a contest between global powers” despite having faced “extraordinary pressure” to do so.

“We do not accept that our non-aligned position favours Russia above other countries. Nor do we accept that it should imperil our relations with other countries,” Ramaphosa said in a weekly presidential newsletter.

South Africa has refused to condemn the conflict in Ukraine, which has largely isolated Moscow on the international stage, saying it wants to stay neutral.


Posted by on May 29 2023. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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