The 4th Tana Forum on Security in Africa kicked off Saturday in the western Ethiopian city of Bahar Dar.
BAHAR DAR, Ethiopia – Participating in the forum are the leaders of Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mali, Somalia’s Puntland State, Botswana and South Sudan.
Addressing the opening session of the forum, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn called for eradicating terrorism and extremism in the African continent.
Desalegn added that the participation of the presidents of both Kenya and Mali in the forum for the first time was indicative of the desire of African states to discuss issues important for the stability and security of the African continent.
The Ethiopian PM went on to describe this year’s forum as “crucial,” noting that the event would focus on drawing distinctions between religion and politics.
“A distinction must be drawn between secularism and religion as the matter presents a tough challenge for security,” Desalegn said.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo – who headed the forum – described the theme of the forum as timely.
He expressed hopes that the forum would succeed in finding mechanisms for managing tensions between secularism and the politicization of religion in Africa.
Poverty, Obasanjo said, has become the number one threat for peace and security in Africa, despite efforts to place the continent on the path to sustainable development.
The Tana Forum was established in 2009 in line with the Tripoli Declaration issued by the extraordinary African summit, which was held on Aug. 31 of the same year to deal with the conflicts of the continent.