UN chief lauds Africa for elections, peace deals, refugee treatment
February 10 2019 05:03 PM
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Dpa/Addis Ababa

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres overlooked refugee abuses and disputed polls across Africa on Sunday as he heaped praise on the continent for recent elections, peace deals and the treatment of refugees during an African Union Summit.

In the upbeat speech in Addis Ababa, the UN chief lauded the continent for its ‘open borders, doors and hearts’ and having set ‘the gold standard for solidarity’ with refugees.

‘In the search for durable solutions to forced displacement, the world - and, indeed, I personally - have drawn constant inspiration from African leadership, African vision and African compassion,’ Guterres said.

Guterres' comments did not mention the dangers many refugees and  internally displaced people face in parts of Africa. Migrants and refugees in Libya for example, are routinely exposed to abuse, slave labour and imprisonment, according to the UN.

‘Africa hosts nearly a third of the world's refugees and internally displaced persons,’ he told African leaders and other foreign dignitaries gathered for the annual summit.

The UN chief also lauded peace efforts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and praised countries that recently held elections, including Mali, Madagascar and Congo.

The results of Congo's elections were widely disputed and beset by allegations of rigging.

Over a million people were effectively disenfranchised from voting in Congo's December polls after elections in several areas were postponed due to an Ebola outbreak and militia violence.

Guterres failed to mention last year's elections in Zimbabwe, which saw six people shot dead by security forces, and the opposition in Madagascar also noted what it called discrepancies with the vote there.

During the summit, Rwandan President Paul Kagame handed over his role as African Union chair to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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