The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the opening ceremony of the 28th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on Jan. 30, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Baishun)
ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has commended the "extraordinary" unity and leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the peaceful transition of Gambia.
In his address to the 28th African Union Summit on Monday, the UN secretary-general said the unity in ECOWAS and the restraint of the Gambian people in the face of possible conflict was commendable.
"The extraordinary union showed by ECOWAS is even a lesson to the world," he said.
"When we see so many conflicts multiplying, the only way to allow the international community to be able to address those conflicts, the only way to allow the international community to act boldly, is with unity of the countries of the region, able to serve together and in the same universal principles," he said.
"Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. Too often the world responds too late and too little. I look forward to exploring with you how to break that cycle."
Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh departed Gambia peacefully following ECOWAS' intervention after he had refused to hand over power to President Adama Barrow who beat him in elections held in December 2016, recalled a UN statement on Tuesday.
Guterres outlined several areas, including peace and security, where the UN and Africa could work together to improve the lives of the ordinary people.
The United Nations will step up its support to further promote good governance and reinforce the nexus between peace, security and development, said Guterres, adding the UN will support African efforts to realize its initiative to "Silence the Guns by 2020", or even before, including by strengthening support for the African Peace and Security Architecture.
"It is also very important that we are able to promote long-term thinking and commitment to building and maintaining peace after conflict ends to prevent backsliding," said Guterres.
The Secretary General has pledged his full commitment to working with AU in solidarity and respect to advance peace and security on the continent and realize the vision of Agenda 2063.
He said he intended to work with AU to present a set of concrete proposals to the Security Council on predictable, reliable and sustainable financing for AU peace operations.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the outgoing Chairperson of the AU Commission, led the assembled leaders in honoring ECOWAS for ensuring a peaceful transition in the Gambia.
Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf received a present on behalf of ECOWAS from the pan-African bloc.
"You made us proud as you stood by the people of Gambia and defended the values of our union," said Dlamini-Zuma.
"Our thanks to all those who participated and remained steadfast. We are particularly proud that it was under your stewardship as our first elected female President. You are a pioneer and inspiration to all women and men."