Leaders of Non-Aligned Movement countries have denounced Israel’s military campaign on the Gaza Strip and demanded an immediate ceasefire

Kenya's President William Ruto talks to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea looks on at the 19th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Kampala, Uganda, on January 19, 2024.

Leaders of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries have denounced Israel’s military campaign on the Gaza Strip and demanded an immediate ceasefire.

This came during a summit of the 120-member bloc in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

The Kampala summit, which began on January 15, runs until January 20, 2024.

Dozens of heads of state and senior officials of NAM members attended the gathering, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Algerian Prime Minister Nadir Larbaoui and his Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, counterpart Russel Dlamini.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, called for an immediate end to what he called the “unjust war against the Palestinian people.”

In a speech to delegates, Cuba’s Vice President, Salvador Valdes Mesa, averred, “Since October 7, we have witnessed one of the cruellest genocidal acts ever to be recorded by history.”

“How can the Western countries, who claim to be so civilised, justify the murder of women and children in Gaza, the indiscriminate bombings of hospitals and schools and deprivation of access to safe water and food?” he asked.

Riyadh Mansour, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, called the summit a “summit of solidarity.”

Nearly all African countries belong to the NAM, comprising nearly half its members, but its membership includes countries around the globe, from India and Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Chile, Peru and Colombia.

The organisation was founded in 1965 by countries opposed to joining either of the two major Cold War-era military and political blocs and is the largest global bloc after the UN.

It is expected to grant membership to South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, on Friday.

Uganda currently heads NAM after a handover to President Yoweri Museveni from Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliye, the outgoing Chairperson, at the start of the summit.

Museveni will chair the organisation until 2027.

Israel-Hamas War, A Demonstration Of UN’s Inadequacy
Speaking at the summit, Ramaphosa said the war in Gaza had demonstrated the UN’s inadequacy, particularly its Security Council, where the United States has vetoed several resolutions critical of Israel.

“We should establish a system of global governance that is fair and equitable, and has the capacity to respond to the needs of all persons in situations of threat and harm,” the South African president said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated calls for the urgent release of hostages kidnapped in Israel over three months ago and for an immediate ceasefire in the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

He told the gathering of leaders that the people of Western Sahara and Palestine deserved self-determination.

“We call for the release of all hostages and the resumption of talks on a just solution that will end the suffering of the Palestinian people. We further call for unhindered and expanded humanitarian access to allow for vital aid and basic services to meet the needs of everyone living in Gaza.”

A week since South Africa argued its case against Israel for a ceasefire in the International Court of Justice, Ramaphosa told the movement it did so to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of Palestinians.

Ramaphosa said the Non-Aligned Movement should not only adhere to the equality of nations but the equality of human beings.

Ramaphosa has used the platform to also appeal for economic sanctions to be lifted against Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the wars in Ukraine and Gaza were causing grave humanitarian and health crises and contributing to international instability.

He said South Africa remained steadfast in advancing its non-aligned approach in pursuit of international peace and security.

Ramaphosa said his government advocated for inclusive dialogue and the political settlement of disputes.

At a time when the world appears to once again be divided between east and west, Ramaphosa said the Non-Aligned Movement should continue to assert its independence.


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