Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Khama speaks out

President Ian Khama touched on a number of contentious issues when speaking at a state banquet hosted in honour of Ghana President John Dramani Mahama on Monday. Notably, while he hit out at Boko Haram and ISIS for their terrorist acts, President Khama also called for tolerance and respect of other people’s religious beliefs.

Boko Haram

We continue to witness peace and security problems confronting many parts of our region. We have witnessed the atrocities committed by Boko Haram who are bent on using the name of religion to further their murderous objectives. Due to the security situation in Nigeria they were entirely justified to postpone their election. Elsewhere on the continent, conflict and humanitarian situations in a number of countries have all left a mark of insecurity on our continent. Interventions from countries like those of France must be welcomed.??Collectively, Africa should continue to stand united in directing a strong message of condemnation of perpetrators of violence and terrorism, and any constitutional action to influence political change. We must do more to address these challenges, as together nothing should be too large to overcome in order to ensure the unity and prosperity of the African people.??

ISIS and terrorism

On the greater international front, Botswana remains deeply concerned about the rising tide of violence in pursuit of causes that are an affront to our common ideals of equality, human rights and other fundamental liberties. It is unfortunate and incredible that in today’s world, we still have groups motivated by ethnicity, religion or belief such as (ISIS), which perpetuate heinous crimes against humanity. The recent reports of abductions of Assyrians, as well as the desecration of Christians in northeast Syria and other sites by ISIS deserve our unreserved condemnation. Such actions demonstrate their brutality which is responsible for crimes and abuses against people from all faiths, ethnicities and nationalities and without regard for any basic value of humanity.??

Calls for tolerance and respect

While Botswana’s opposition to all forms of terrorism is unwavering and unequivocal, we are however of the further view that we all have a responsibility to work together as nations, governments, citizens of the world in promoting a global climate of tolerance, inclusive values and policies, mutual understanding and respect as this will go a long way in mitigating unnecessary conflict. We strongly believe that such respect among other things must be predicated on appreciation of the diversity of cultural and religious traditions and perspectives existing across the world. This should find natural expression in the ability of all humanity to subsist in harmony with one another despite differences in identity, race, gender and religion. What is known to be sacred to some people should be respected as such and not be ridiculed in any way. Democracy is therefore about promoting mutual respect and not promoting disrespect. Freedom of speech, expression and the press does not translate into freedom to offend.??

On Syria, North Korea and Ukraine

Botswana continues to be concerned about the debilitating human rights situations in countries such as Syria and North Korea to name only two. Continued reports of the systematic violation of human rights and the suffering of people in such countries has surpassed alarming levels as unimaginable crimes against humanity continue to be committed, and the voice of victims in danger is almost lost amidst the horrors of such conflicts. In this regard, we believe that the international community should continue to be tireless in its efforts to speak out for those without a voice and to stand up for the protection and promotion of human rights and the United Nations Security Council should lead by example. On the matter of crimes against humanity, in recent times there have been calls from some quarters from African States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to withdraw their membership. Botswana has no intention of doing so as we continue to support the intent and purpose for why the ICC was set up. Should we have concerns about its operations, we should influence change from within the organization as opposed to leaving it. Botswana has been closely monitoring the political situation in Ukraine and we are profoundly concerned that the protracted conflict in that country still defies solution. We therefore wish to appeal to all concerned parties to honour their commitment and fully implement the ceasefire agreement with a view to bring the country back to normalcy. As members of the international community, we must remain conscious of the need to allow Ukrainians themselves to lead their own destiny without interference from others, unless it is to seek to resolve conflict themselves, and we thus commend France and Germany for their recent interventions in this regard.?

Ebola

We have come to realize that security challenges can be multifaceted. Once again, the West Africa region has demonstrated in the fight against the challenge of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, that no amount of tragedy can extinguish the resolve and determination of the collective efforts of the international community. We commend Cuba, the United Kingdom and the United States in the leading role they took to help combat the disease.??Botswana will continue to offer a helping hand as we have already been doing with financial and material assistance to contribute to efforts to ensure that the Ebola epidemic is ultimately defeated, and enable the affected countries to re-focus on overall national development and prosperity of their people.??

Peace and security in Africa

We are well aware of the many other challenges facing the world today, challenges that respect no borders, which no country can resolve on its own. Globalisation has come to occupy the centre stage of human development and will remain a permanent dynamic in the lives of our citizens, and impact on both the development content and trajectory of nations across the globe. This requires that Africa puts in place the necessary mechanism of co-operation to ensure that the continent becomes both an effective participant and real beneficiary in global affairs. I am pleased that this is one of the primary goals of our continental agenda. It is in this regard that I wish to highlight that we welcome the developments pertaining to the recent peaceful elections in Lesotho. We commend the people of Lesotho for this peaceful transition as well as the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa for facilitating this process. It is our hope that political stability will now finally be entrenched in that country.

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