African leaders have been asked to use dialogue to solve conflict in the region
The head of Independent Centre for Research and Initiatives for Dialogue (CIRID) Deo Hakizimana said leaders should embrace dialogue to unite citizens before conflicts arise.
“We can say there is dialogue before conflict, because after conflict it is no longer dialogue but negotiations,” he said during the launch of Macky Sall Prize for Dialogue in Africa at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Nairobi.
The Sh5.7 million prize will be awarded in September this year in Geneva, Switzerland to a deserving African, who has used dialogue to promote peace.
Mr Hakizimana said the prize is intended to recognise African mediators, who use dialogue to end conflict and might rise to the same level of late South African leader Nelson Mandela.
“We want new people like Mandela because Africa is just not rich in resources but ideas as well, so that they can find a model of achieving peace on which they can base their dreams,” he said.
He explained how leaders can spread peace giving an example the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which has been instrumental in preventing conflict, most recently in Gambia.
“The East African Community is a leader in terms of integration, our presidents in the region can for instance come together to have a dialogue with Burundi to see how to end conflict there,” he said.
The prize is named after the current Senegalese president Macky Sall for his efforts in driving peace through dialogue.
Members of the civil society present at the launch questioned the sincerity of dialogue initiatives in the continent.
“When there is for instance conflict, the affected people do not get to participate but rather leaders and such like-minded people sit in hotels and boardrooms trying to solve problems that might not even have directly affected them,” said Mrs Caroline Njira from Society for International Development.
Mr Hakizimana, however noted that dialogue is the responsibility of everyone, not just the leaders but for every individual to have continuous conversation such that peace can prevail on the continent.