Thursday, September 15, 2005

'Africa's peace seekers'

The Christian Science Monitor is running a series of Africans who have implicated themselves in trying to resolve some of the continent's great conflicts. This portrait takes a look at Kenyan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo who worked tireless to help broker peace in the civil war in southern Sudan, Africa's longest running conflict until a peace deal was signed a few months ago.

"General Sumbeiywo should win the Nobel Peace Prize," says former Sen. John Danforth, who was President Bush's special envoy to Sudan from 2001 to 2004. "His ability to stay there in the talks and be an honest broker - and to listen to all the back and forth over such a long period of time - was essential, and was very largely responsible for the result," says Senator Danforth by phone from St. Louis.

The general had many sessions with Sudan's various warring parties. While most wars invoke the pretext of religion or ethnicity or nationalism/patriotism, they're ultimately about something else. Those meetings helped Sumbeiywo see that, beyond anything else, the conflict was about one simple issue: "who is in control." War, he says, is about "power."

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