Wednesday, 2 July 2008

African Solutions for African Problems: Good News from Burundi, Bad News from Zimbabwe

Ten days before Robert Mugabe “won” the presidential election in Zimbabwe, the last remaining rebel leader in Burundi announced the end of their struggle against a government of reconciliation. According the United Nations information service IRIN, Agathon Rwasa, marked the formal start of the cantonment of his fighters at a special ceremony.

"Through this pre-cantonment process we want to show the Burundian and international community that we are committed to reaching a lasting peace," Rwasa said as 150 combatants from his Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libération (FNL) assembled at Rugazi.

This is good news: the slow march toward peace in Rwanda’s non-identical twin has been going on for nearly a decade. That was when African nations set in place an embargo against Burundi in an attempt to bring the warring Tutsi and Hutu factions to the negotiation table. Nelson Mandela played a decisive role in those discussions, which led to relatively free elections and the implementation of a government of reconciliation three years ago.

African Union leaders meeting this week have not come down with similar sanctions against Zimbabwe. Unlike Mandela, whose continual efforts to bring democracy and peace to his part of the world were so important in Burundi, South Africa’s current president Thabo Mbeki has dragged his feet. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this is nothing new with Mbeki.

The long, but ultimately successful struggle in Burundi is evidence of how Africans can solve their own problems when they act in concert and when their men of principle are listened to. Mandela, whose 90th birthday was exhuberantly celebrated in London last week too, should serve as an example to his succesors.


The Face of Afrika said...

Mary Soderstrom said...

Most interesting website. Thanks for the reference.