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African wisdom sheds light on 2009 crisis bust

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By Xiao Linjun

NAIROBI, Dec 18, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- African wisdom sheds light on efforts to resolve political crises in 2009, with a series of achievements made to ensure the continent of peace and prosperity in the coming years.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is in the limelight of 2009 for defusing flare-ups, which until months ago posed a real danger not only to the war-torn central African country, but the entire Great Lakes region.

The key to the success is an African plan worked out by regional leaders, under which DR Congo and neighboring Rwanda, Uganda joined hands in late 2008 and early 2009 in military operations against insurgency.

The results were obvious with the then Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda arrested and his National Council for the Defense of the People defunct. The Congolese-Rwandan operation also dealt a heavy blow to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which is linked to the 1994 Rwanda massacre and fled into the DR Cong's eastern province of North Kivu after the genocide.

Meanwhile, the joint crackdown by DR Congo and Uganda largely compromised the notorious Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army, with its main camp in the northeastern jungle in DR Congo dismantled in air raids.

Although insurgents are still active in small groups in DR Congo, causing sporadic trouble, the security situation has much improved in the country and the Great Lakes region, where several countries were sucked in during the Congo war between 1998 and 2003.

In West Africa, the African Union (AU) and the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have succeeded in helping resolve the crisis in Mauritania, where the presidential elections were held in July to end the military rule since a coup in August 2008.

The two organizations made a quick response after Guinea- Bissau's President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira and his army chief Batista Tagme Na Waie were assassinated in early March. ECOWAS sent several teams to the feud-stricken country to help prevent a repetition of the 1998-1999 civil war.

The African backing contributed to a smooth transition leading to the June 28 presidential elections.

The AU and ECOWAS are expecting another fruit of peace efforts in Cote d'Ivoire, where the long-awaited presidential elections are within reach after repeated delays.

Cote d'Ivoire suffered the 2002-2003 civil war and still remains divided. But peace talks have gained momentum since 2007, with the government and the rival New Forces signing four peace accords under the push by the AU and ECOWAS.

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore was saluted last month by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his role as the African facilitator in mediating the crisis.

Central African Republic is another country moving out of the conflicts with support of regional organizations and the international community.

The peace process generally holds since the reshuffle of government in January following the inclusive political dialogue in December last year. The country is looking forward to a presidential vote in 2010.

The progress was made under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States, which alongside the United Nations and the European Union brought the government and rebel groups together in June 2008 to sign a comprehensive peace accord in Libreville, Gabon.

The late Gabonese president Omar Bongo was another successful African leader to facilitate the settlement of political confrontation in the continent. He had hosted a series of peace conferences on Central African Republic before the conclusion of the agreement.

African leaders are playing an irreplaceable role in resolving regional conflicts, with their good offices mission becoming a spotlight in efforts to maintain peace, democracy and the constitutional order in the continent.

Their collective wisdom also brings hope to talks in Madagascar for an end to the crisis, in which the former mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, replaced Marc Ravalomanana as president of the Indian Ocean island state in March.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in cooperation with the AU suspended Madagascar after the power takeover, which they consider as a coup. The African organizations have since worked with all parties in the country to reach a compromise in August on power sharing in a 15-month transition.

Although the parties have yet to overcome the dispute over the presidency of the transitional government, they are already looking to late 2010 as a possibility to hold the elections to end the crisis.

African countries have seen their best prospects since independence, with a common development model taking shape on the basis of democracy and the Constitution. Globalization has brought ever more partners to the once marginalized continent, which is seizing the opportunity to get rid of coup and conflict, while stepping forward to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Africa will take a new look on the world arena.