Kinsman: Does last week’s creation of a Southern Sudanese state point to succession as the solution to other African conflicts?

By: /
18 July, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Africans agreed not to unravel arbitrary colonial borders which ignored tribal and other realities, but failed to nurture the pluralistic societies which they contain. Elections are one key step toward democracy. But post-election populist tribal majorities often lord it over minorities and losers. Conflict erupts.

Count about 20 recent or active internal conflicts in Africa, outside “Arab spring” uprisings. They include 8 Islamist terror insurgencies. The others reflect regional, ethnic, and/or sectarian separatist ambition, resisted at great cost by governments with successful secession seldom an outcome.

South Sudan’s secession from majority abuse is a rare exception. Better that Africans learn to guarantee minority rights to avoid these often deadly and draining civil conflicts. They need help. Given European populist backlash against their own pluralism, it falls to Canada, since pluralism is our best-respected soft power brand, to be strengthened soon by the Aga Khan Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.