Masterstroke Diplomacy And Statesmanship Nigeriana, Ala Sao Tome!
Paul I Adujie
New York, United States
On Wednesday July 23, 2003, I read with great pleasure and utmost delight that the President of Sao Tome and Principe Fradique de Menezes has been restored to constitutional leadership successfully! This culminated in the travel to that country by Nigerian President Obasanjo, to whom the hitherto deposed president of Sao Tome was guest in Abuja.
This was a beautiful ending to the unconstitutionality that resulted from the coup which was perpetrated by one Major Fernando Pereira and others, We are informed that a political solution, yet to be ratified by the Sao Tome national assembly will exonerate the coup plotters, granting amnesty; And that all parties will let bygones remain in the past, while at the same time, working to improve the national conditions that were allegedly the excuse for the coup in the firs place.
Gabon's Foreign Minister Jean Ping, was quoted as saying that ``Africa and the world are proud of the work we have done,'' part of a team of international envoys negotiating with coup leaders since Sunday reported AP. And the coup leader Major Fernando Pereira was quoted as saying that deal was ``a big step for the resolution of this crisis,'' saying ``the national parliament has been restored.''
Furthermore, the country’s Vice President of parliament, Carlos Neves, said that lawmakers will meet Wednesday night to consider amnesty for those behind the coup, including leader Army Maj. Fernando Pereira. As Carlos Neves added that ``We're trying to get a quorum to approve the amnesty law today,''
According to the Associated Press statement in New York, the coup plotters said they seized power July 16 because of ``the continuing social and economic decline'' of this oil-rich but very poor country in the Gulf of Guinea. Menezes, elected to a five-year term in 2001, was visiting Nigeria at the time.
AP reported that the negotiations included delegations from Nigeria, the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and the Economic Community of Central African States. The United States, the United Nations, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries and the 53-nation African Union all demanded the restoration of constitutional order in this former Portuguese colony.
Some countries and the World Bank threatened the rebels with diplomatic isolation and cuts in aid. Sao Tome and Principe is an impoverished nation of about 140,000 people in a region of growing international importance. The islands are in one of the continent's most active oil exploration areas. The coup leaders detained seven government ministers at military installations before releasing them Sunday. All are at their homes under military guard.
Prime Minister Maria das Neves has been hospitalized under military surveillance since the coup after collapsing following her arrest. She is being treated for high blood pressure. Another political solution brought to you courtesy of Nigeria's capacity for Leadership in African Affairs and issues; This how it should be and just as well it is now. That was masterstroke diplomacy and statesmanship Pax Nigeriana! This peace brokered by Nigeria has brought relief to all the parties in Sao Tome and everyone else worldwide.
Sometimes political solutions similar to this are faster and better, because it avoid and cuts out lingering bitterness or desire for vengeance and vicious cycle of bloodletting. It is my opinion that Nigeria prominent role in negotiating and sealing this deal will be recognized and appreciated by all the parties involved and of course the entire world. Nigeria must extend this kind of vigorous diplomacy to the festering crisis in Liberia, the West Africa sub-region and indeed, all of Africa.
May God bless the people and government of Nigeria, especially the Nigerian Diplomats and other diplomats whose skills, knowledge and experience made this successful end possible! Nigeria was hosting the president of Sao Tome when the coup occurred and now, he has been restored to constitutional power albeit with some compromises for the good of Sao Tome.
An onset of a new dawn in Africa as good leadership is clearly indicated here, in dispute resolution with particular reference to Africa, this is wonderful and should be applauded by all.