I have noted with great interest that, in his hosting and mediation of the peace talks for northern Uganda, the vice-president of Souther Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar, has been assisted by a practiced international mediator from Ethiopia called Hizkias Assefa.
When I was teaching at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute of Eastern Mennonite University last year, Dr. Assefa was also on the faculty there. (Though we were all so busy I didn’t get to spend much time with him at all.)
Anyway, I see that the website there at EMU has a little news item with some excerpts from emails Assefa has been sending to colleagues there. Including this, from late August:
- “At this point my energy level has hit rock bottom,” Assefa said. “We had to work at times until 3 a.m. when we were drafting the latest agreement for signature. Although many of us feel it is time for a break, others feel that the momentum that is building in the peace process cannot be allowed to dissipate by taking a break, and we must push on.
“Some political mediations in large scale conflict have come to successful completion with peace agreements that have held,” he said. “One of the big challenges of this process is how the changes that come with the peace process get internalized in the society.
Meanwhile, I’ve just been checking the Kampala Daily Monitor website. They have a couple of interesting items related to the peace effort. One is this one, which is an account/transcript of a radio (or t.v.?) broadcast in which LRA vice-head Vincent Otti participated over a sat-phone. He was in a place called Ri-Kwangba, apparently in one of the two “assembly areas” in which the LRA fighters are supposed to be congregating under the terms of the recent ceasefire agreement.
Otti gives some useful background there about how the LRA earlier this year made the decision to get into the negotiations. He also says that he and LRA chief Joseph Kony will not “come out of the bush” until after the ICC has revoked its indictments against those two and two other LRA leaders. (The fifth indictee having recently been killed.)
Fascinating reading there, altogether, including the discussions among the other participants in the show. (More tomorrow.)
And in this other article, we learn this:
- THE International Criminal Court will not act on “speculation” to revoke the indictments against the top leadership of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, a spokesman for the Hague-based tribunal said yesterday.
All power to the peacemakers. May their strength hold up.
The budget of the ICC for 2005 was, I believe, some $90 million. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of going to international lawyers’ salaries and sleek office complexes in The Hague, that sum had been invested in peacebuilding? Wouldn’t it be great if Dr. Assefa and those like him who labor in the vineyards of peacemaking had assured salaries that were as high as those assured to lawyers at the ICC?
Dream on, Helena.