The political/military future of the Great Lakes region is looking bright as conflict comes to a definitive end.
A phone call between two seemingly intractable adversaries, and an internationally brokered pact of former foes is boding well for sustained peace in an Eastern and Central African region notorious for conflict.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan oversaw the signing of a â€˜good neighbour accordâ€™ by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo last week, while Sudanese rebel leader John Garang telephoned President Omar el-Bashir for a cordial talk. Relations are normalising, with diplomatic ties expected to be fully re-established.
These developments were implausible as recently as two years ago when this region was notorious as one of the worldâ€™s worst geopolitical trouble spots. Various armies, including Ugandaâ€™s, were at war in the Congo, while in Sudan, there was in fighting in a Khartoum government that was simultaneously fighting for territory with the rebel SPLA in the south.
The Sudanese civil war, of course, has had implications for regional stability. Ugandaâ€™s own LRA rebel insurgency has benefited from Sudanese instability.
Regional conflict has, without a doubt, undermined economic advancement. In the years that conflict raged, COMESA, the Common Market for East, Central and Southern Africa, to which the above belligerents subscribed, struggled to take off. While there are many other factors hamstringing COMESA, mutual suspicion and hostilities did not help.
All that is hopefully behind us now, and as rapprochement continues, we can all finally focus our efforts and resources to regional growth, integration and stability.
Regional Future Bright