African Union’s (AU) has named former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo as high representative for the Horn of Africa region.
“This decision is part of the African Union’s drive to promote peace, security, stability, and political dialogue throughout the Horn of Africa region,” AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement on Thursday.
“Specifically, the High Representative will step up engagements with all important political actors and stakeholders in the Horn of Africa in order to establish long-term peace and stability.”
The AU Commission Chairperson praised Obasanjo for accepting “this crucial political task in the general interest of the continental bloc,” according to the AU.
“The former Nigerian president brings with him a wealth of political experience, impeccable credentials, and a strong commitment to the lofty ideals of Pan-Africanism, regional integration, and cooperation, as well as a thorough understanding of the current situation in the Horn of Africa,” according to the statement.
The new appointment comes as war and problems erupt in the dangerous Horn of Africa region.
Ethiopia’s Tigray region has been engulfed in a nine-month civil conflict that has spread to other parts of the country.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, told reporters on Thursday that the Tigray violence, which has expanded to the Afar and Amhara areas, has displaced over half a million people.
Obasanjo’s appointment comes at a time when Somalia and its international partners have been unable to stem a renewed insurgency by the Al-Shabaab terrorist group.
Obasanjo was born on March 5, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, in South Western Nigeria, and served as President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country.
In Angola, Burundi, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa, Mr. Obasanjo has also participated in international mediation efforts.
Mr. Obasanjo was named Special Envoy to the Great Lakes area by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008, and he has played an important role in mediation attempts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.