Given all that we know and hear about Africa, success is not the first thing that comes to mind when penning about the African Union’s intervention in the continent’s conflicts.
But this year, under the continental body’s watchful eye, Kismayo in Somalia has fallen in the hands of the Somalie government, and the two Sudan’s-South Sudan and Sudan have reached a landmark agreement which will allow the two nations to co-exist peacefully.
Absent: The Western media and pundits to give credit where it is due. Apparently it is not newsworthy when Africans come up with their own solutions to the continent’s many conflict.
To recap: Captured in August 2008, Kismayo is Al-Shabaab’s (an insurgent group linked to Al-Qaida) last stronghold in Somalia after they were repelled away from Mogadishu by the allied African Union forces under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2010-2011. It is in this context that the capture (under the military code name of “Operation Sledge Hammer”) of Kismayo in October 2012 by the AMISOM (led by the Kenyan military contingent) is vital for Somalia’s future. It is in Kismayo where the militia’s central planning command was stationed, including serving as their main route for supply of weapon and other necessities.
On another African front (while AMISOM was militarily battling for the final control of Kismayo) diplomacy was the name of the game in the two Sudan’s of South Sudan and Sudan. South Sudan is that part of Sudan which became an independent nation after they split from the north last year. The result: Tension and dispute over sharing the oil revenues loomed between the two nations.
Nonetheless, under the chairmanship of the former South African President Thabo Mbeki (the chief mediator of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan), the two nations happily embraced (well, maybe not happily ever yet.) and signed a peace pact in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on September 27, 2012. Although, it seems, the implementation pace is somewhat shaping up to be a very slow process, the Sudan-South Sudan Co-operation Agreement contains important series of accords related to the two nations’ security, economic and political cooperation.
Will the peace pact last? Time will tell. But let’s also note (in humility) here that it is not George Clooney’s Satellite Sentinel Project (also called SSP) from the sky that forced the two nations to sit together on the negotiation table. The power of personal persuasion, dialogue, and neutrality did. And the African themselves did. The lesson: Support, strengthen, empower, and let the Africans themselves take a center stage in solving their own problems.
Also (to the credit of the Southern Africa Development Committee-SADC, and the African Union), in Zimbabwe it seems that a roadmap, patchy but on track, to a new democracy for that Southern African nation has finally emerged. If things go as they appear to be, we may have the new constitution adopted as well as a presidential election in 2013 for Zimbabwe.
However, is this seemingly success scored by the AU and its regional bodies in 2012 a trend of what come? It is in this context that the challenges for 2013 remain huge. There is Mali conflict. There is the Democratic of the Congo’s (DRC) unresolved conflict. And there is Egypt and Libya too.