Among all the crises plaguing Central Africa, there seem to be glimmers of progress in several ugly situations. The grief is far from over, and simmering pots are ready to boil over in other places, but there are positive signs in some of the most recent trouble spots. Having visited many of these places while researching Heart of Diamonds, I’m cautiously optimistic.
In Uganda, the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) agreed to set up a special division of the country’s high court to try war crimes committed during the 21-year-old conflict. There are still huge hurdles to be jumped, but at least there is some movement toward a permanent ceasefire.
Kenya lurches tentatively toward peace, although it may be generations before the damage to inter-tribal relations can be erased. President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga may announce a joint-governance agreement as early as tomorrow.
Zimbabwe may actually hold an election that matters next month. Simba Makoni, a senior member of President Robert Mugabe’s own ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), has announced he will run against the 83-year-old despot. The opposition party couldn’t unite behind a viable candidate, and Mugabe may still well coast to victory, but the presence of an opponent from his own party is a welcome sign.
Darfur remains a shameful open sore, of course, and unrest festers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, and many other places, but there may be glimmers of hope for some.