Former African president urges 'patience' at peace building conference

Dr Amani Abeid Karume helped broker a peace deal in Zanzibar

Former African president urges 'patience' at peace building conference

Former African president urges 'patience' at peace building conference

The former President of Zanzibar – an autonomous region of Tanzania – has said the Northern Ireland peace process has provided the rest of the world with valuable lessons in bringing conflict to an end.

He was speaking at a conference organised in the Skainos Centre by Co-operation Ireland in conjunction with the Global Peace Foundation.

Dr Amani Abeid Karume, who helped bring peace to his own country in 2009 after years of turmoil that saw his father assassinated, said there were some first steps all parties to conflict had to take before a peace process could succeed.

“I think what has been achieved (in Northern Ireland) so far is commendable because in peacebuilding activities - especially in a country which has experienced political and ethnic divisions as well as sectarian divisions for a long time - it’s not a one-time thing. It’s always a process and processes take time.

“The most important ingredient is patience. People must have patience. You shouldn’t be in a hurry. Take one step at a time and understand each other until you build consensus among yourselves. And again, what has been said today by various speakers is that building trust is a very important thing and transparency is also very important.

“If you come to the negotiating table with openness and without any hidden agendas then the process gets much easier and, of course, at times it gets faster.

“These are things that people need to understand when negotiating for a final peaceful solution in a conflict that has taken place.”

The week long Global Peace conference saw politicians and faith leaders from Kenya, Nigeria and the United States come to Belfast to learn about how our peace process developed and how they could learn lessons from our successes and failings.