Three peace initiatives in Africa

The African continent has experienced wars, but also peace, which could be overcome by a political will, such as between Ethiopia and Eritrea, with armed violence as in Ivory Coast or through an external mediation such as in Mozambique.

Peace through violence

In Côte d'Ivoire, French bombs, supported by a UN mission, forced Laurent Gbagbo to hand over the presidency to his competitor Alassane Ouattara.

Weapons can silence conflicts and contribute to peace. This is what happened in Ivory Coast in 2011, after nearly a decade of annoying hatred and reign of small leaders in areas abandoned by the Abidjan authorities. It all started in 2002 with a coup d'état which caused President Laurent Gbagbo to lose control of the north, above Bouaké. He accuses Alassane Ouattara of the & # 39; brain & # 39; of the rebellion. He in vain asks France to help him defeat the rebels.

The international community appeals to the verdict in the polls. The presidential elections are postponed six times. The tension rises in the country, until the second round of voting, in November 2010, against Laurent Gbagbo against Alassane Ouattara. This election does not solve anything. December 3, the country lags behind with two presidents: the Constitutional Council announces the victory of Laurent Gbagbo and the election commission of his competitor. The UN, France and the United States are asking Laurent Gbagbo to bow.

He lives in the presidential palace, while Alassane Ouattara retires to the Golf Hotel. Abidjan comes into fear. Proponents of the & nb; northern candidate & # 39; are afraid of the raids of the young patriots of Laurent Gbagbo. Calling up a television relay to the settlement of accounts. The memory of the genocide in Rwanda is floating in the minds of people. The government closes the boundaries. Non-Ivorian workers from the Sahel flee from the capital. The fighting will cause 3,000 deaths.

France, which had refused to support Laurent Gbagbo a few years earlier, is of the opinion this time that weapons will only prevent a massacre by solving the crisis in favor of Alassane Ouattara.

After a ten-day battle in the capital, bombings by the French Licorne force and the support of the UN mission in Côte d'Ivoire (Onuci), Alassane Ouattara manages to settle in the presidential palace.

The poor are silent, Laurent Gbagbo is arrested, Alassane Ouattara is invested for a score of African heads of state and French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The country regains international credits and international donors open their fairs. Abidjan is enriched and in this time international justice is interested in The Hague in the role of Laurent Gbagbo, accused of crimes against humanity.

Peace through politics

Last summer, in Ethiopia, a new prime minister put his hand to his Eritrean neighbor who lived under investment. Since then, the signs of peace have multiplied.

Political will can lead to peace. It requires compromises, gestures and support from the population, often fed by good propaganda. In the Horn of Africa, two policy measures seem to have only decided to make peace, to the general surprise. One, Issayas Afeworki, has been president of Eritrea for twenty-five years, the other, Abiy Ahmed, 42, has just come to power in Ethiopia and puts an end to the Tigrayan rule of power. ethnic group from the north who had an argument with Eritrea.

In 1998, the two neighbors went to war for a few hundred square kilometers of desert. 80,000 fighters will die in two years time. The conflict drives hundreds of thousands of Eritreans to flee. They wanted to escape the lifelong service of a dictator obsessed by the presence of the Ethiopian army at the southern border. Twenty years later Abiy Ahmed said that he was suddenly ready to apply the conclusions of an international arbitration – rejected until then by Ethiopia – on the course of the border. Everything is speeding up.

A few days later an Eritrean delegation travels to Ethiopia to talk about peace. On 8 July, an historic meeting took place in Asmara between the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the President of Eritrea, unimaginable a few weeks earlier, greeted by the crowd, undoubtedly summoned by the dictator. The next day the two leaders sign a joint declaration that ends the state of war. Issayas Afeworki visits Ethiopia, where the embassy of his country in Addis Ababa is reopened. A commercial flight connects Addis Ababa with Asmara.

Foreign countries have undoubtedly helped the politicians to decide to surrender. Issayas Afwerki has been closer to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for three years, allowing them to use the port of Assab to lead a new war, that of Yemen. At the end of April, the American secretary of state for Africa made the first visit of an American official in Eritrea for a long time.

In September, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed an agreement in Saudi Arabia to consolidate their reconciliation in the presence of the UN Secretary-General. Antonio Guterres said that the sanctions against Eritrea may no longer be justified.

Peace through mediation

In Mozambique, the community of Sant & # 39; Egidio managed to place the warring parties around the same table. And to persuade them to surrender.

Convince the belligerent parties to make peace by talking to each other around the same table. This is what the dozens of members of the Sant & # 39; Egidio International Office have been doing since 1968. The peace in Mozambique, after sixteen years of fratricidal war, was the greatest victory of this Christian community that was established in Rome. His strength is not to have a "hidden agenda", no geostrategic interest to defend.

In 1992 President Joaquim Chissano and Afonso Dhlakama, Renamo's leader, resigned after two years of efforts and 11 meetings in Rome between the Marxist power and the guerrillas, backed by the apartheid regime of South Africa. This civil war had killed one million people and forced two million Mozambicans into exile, not to mention the wounded, the mines and the destruction.

It all started with the dispatch in 1984 of three planes and two auxiliary boats to Mozambique. This support for a population suffering from both the conflict and the Marxist regime opened the way for a dialogue. A first meeting was organized by Sant & # 39; Egidio in 1988 between Afonso Dhlakama and Mgr. Jaime Gonçalves, Archbishop of Beira. Without success.

Two years later, a new meeting between the government and Renamo takes place at the Roman seat of the community. Mediation can begin. It will take two years to peace.

It was not enough to help the hunters sign this peace. It was then necessary to make it effective. The mediators of Sant & # 39; Egidio make way for the huge UN machine. By the end of 1992, 7,500 peacekeepers were deployed. The UN mission in Mozambique ensures the implementation of peace agreements from the demobilization of soldiers and their disarmament to the organization of elections. The office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, for its part, invests 80 million euros for the return of refugees. Two years later, in 1994, Mozambicans can freely choose their president from the ten candidates and nominate 250 MPs for the next five years.

Twenty-four years later, the country is still run by the same party, Frelimo, and Renamo is still the main opposition force with a strong presence in the north of the country. But since then there has been peace without interruption, despite regular skirmishes and unbridled corruption.

Pierre Tick