In an exclusive interview with the pan-African media, La Voix Des Décideurs, Kag Sanoussi, an expert in Negociational Intelligence, analyses conflict management in Africa, particularly on the cases of Cameroon, Gabon and the Central African Republic.
Good morning Mr Kag Sanoussi. Could you present yourself to our readers?
Hello, I am Founder and President of the International Institute of Conflict Management (IICM) which brings together many experts on different continents in the fields of the mediation, strategic negotiation, prevention and conflict management, social liability of enterprises (SLE), in the religious, matters and inter culturality.
I am particularly interested in the accompaniment of the companies, of political powers to work for a better management of conflicting situations which, badly managed or not managed, are true shortcomings to the competitiveness of enterprises and the democratic flow of countries. We mobilize several tools in counseling, training and accompaniment of the actors. Lastly, the taking into account of the diaspora in the development projects of countries is one of our concerns, it is so important to favour a better consideration of the diaspora, in her diversity and complexity, for a child of the country, is always of the country, wherever he resides.
You are known as an Expert in Negotiational Intelligence. Can you talk to us about this field which is obviously ill known to a cross section of the African public?
As you know, every individual has various types of intelligences highlighted from the theory of multiple intelligence of Howard Gardner. Our practices in negotiation, particularly in mediation have led us to develop the concept of the Negotiational Intelligence (NI) which is, the capacity given to each individual to mobilize all or part of their other intelligence in carrying out a negotiation. It is a peculiar art to be able to identify on the one hand the intelligence which are the other person’s and on the other hand, how to mobilize them to make a project succeed.
Negociational Intelligence (NI) thus positions itself as the modern vade mecum for a better crises prevention, and a better risks and conflicts management within enterprises, States and in every type of organization. It is at the same time an effective lever in carrying out projects and in strategic negotiations, notably through a systemic approach based on the eight focal points of negotiation. (See the 10 keys of Negoti²ational Intelligence, Rama editions, April 2016). Within the enterprise, it is a formidable tool to face conflicts and more particularly intercultural conflicts.
NI, is this capacity given to any person, within the framework of the performance of a project for example, to stake on the role of the network of the actors, and/or on the seduction, and/or their oral argumentative capacity, and/or the quality of their written presentation, on the impact of the data, humour, on the intimidation or even the threat, on their physical presentation, etc. To do this, it is to show prove of negotiational intelligence, i.e., to be able to showcase their assets, with the aim of achieving success in their quest.
We train, so as to help each and everyone to identify which of their multiple intelligences (spatial, cognitive, emotional, etc), they can use and in which situation. Indeed, each intelligence has an aspect which can be mobilized in the negotiation or the performance of a project or in the prevention or the management of a conflict.
Negotiational Intelligence is the new paradigm already present in our practices and whose conscientisation, and exposition constitutes a strategic ally.
Do you think that African leaders attach an importance to the showcasing Negotiational Intelligence as is the case with economic intelligence?
The concept of the Negotiational Intelligence (NI) is relatively recent and thus not well known; even if in our everyday life, each one of us makes use of it, in an unconscious and completely empirical way.
It is thus difficult to attach a certain importance to something whose existence one ignores. Indeed, currently, only a few African leaders are sensitized on the practice of NI. Our role is thus simple: to make known the practice of Negotiational Intelligence, which can actually be positioned at the junction of economic intelligence.
Negotiational Intelligence is applicable in budget negotiations, in the search of new markets, in the establishment of business partnerships, in all kinds of trade negotiations, in team management, notably within the framework of intercultural conflicts which can emerge within private or public organizations.
For leaders, it constitutes a strategic asset in the art of carrying out the most difficult, uncertain and most complex negotiations.
NI, thanks to the combination of tools whose use it makes possible, such as the OPSSR PLAN Organization Plan for State Security Response / the Liable Company, must be appropriated, by leaders in Africa as well as by their teams which are very often at the fronts stations in negotiations.
We are developing for this purpose a series of three days training with a public conference in various African countries as from June. A ten days internship course will also take place in Paris in the month of October.
And What comments do you make of crises and conflict management in Africa in general and Central Africa in particular?
Africa for a long time now is experiencing a series of crises with devastating consequences. With the instance of conflicts due to blind, inhuman and brutal terrorism, whose causes are also complex, sometimes remote, but especially geostrategic, the majority of conflicts have a principal entry point: the question of the accession and or the maintenance in power of leaders in various countries. And the real cause is that of the possession, sharing, and management of goods.
Whichever direction you put the question, you inevitably come back to the problem of collection, management, sharing of goods. And the protagonists are not the only Africans who often end up with arms, but many others, usually foreign actors who work for their egoistic interests.
When a person eats alone, he has very little satisfaction and will always want to eat more; but when he eats sharing with others, he quickly gets satisfied.
I think that it is indeed possible, with the appropriation of new paradigms of management of public property to significantly reduce certain types of recurring conflicts which many countries encounter.
Central Africa alas presents the saddest diagram of multiform and multi-actor conflicts and of which some have lasted for a long time. In all of the Central African countries: Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Sao Tome-and-Principle and Chad, conflict is obviously present or driven back, and sometimes latent.
The mechanisms of conflict resolution set up, be they of the UN, European or of sub-regional authorities, find it difficult to produce binding and lasting effects, in as much as the rules of the game and wills remain uncertain. More significant, certain conflicts of Central Africa are a real show of the race to the egoistic interests of certain actors, real predators and catalysts of oppositions between sons and daughters of the same country.
The political good-will of a radical change of the paradigms, as seen lately with some Central African leaders must be encouraged to break this dramatic cycle. The conflict is not a fatality for Africa!
Relating to the role of the media…
The media is a very significant actor, for democracy, but most especially also to help in better conflict management.
The media can humanize a conflict, can worsen tension between actors, can contribute to its best comprehension, can especially help to sensitize opinion on possible solutions.
This is to say that the role of the media can go further than informing opinion. When one remembers the very harmful role that the “miles collines” radio in Rwanda played, during the Tutsi genocide, one can only invite the media to take the opposite course to this practice.
But many persons in authority over the media, journalists are little sensitized on their roles in conflicts. We develop for this purpose, targeted trainings “Journalists sensitive to conflicts” during which, the journalists and other media actors are trained to know types of conflicts, the stakes, the role of visible and invisible actors (who do not appear at first sight), the various ways to responsibly deal with subjects in times of conflict, etc.
This training is already taking place in Central Africa in the Central African Republic for about thirty journalists, a sensitization conference for journalists in Chad. They would soon be developed in other countries.
An media actor nonsensitive to conflict can be dangerous in dealing with the subject and induce alas, aggravation effects of the conflict.
How do you apprehend the management of the Central African crisis characterized by the determination of rebellious groups to conceal drifts and violences?
We have worked for a few years now on the Central African crisis and are in relation with many of the implied protagonists. It is a management which is in process, as such, permit me not to be very explicit on certain aspects.
The election to power in the CAR, of Professor Faustin Archange TOUADERA marks the return of constitutional order with a manifest hope of a return to complete peace.
The question of rebellious groups, of armed groups is the priority challenge of the new President; for without safety, nothing is really possible.
If one can note a serious improvement of the security situation in Bangui as well as in some localities in the hinterlands, it is not less true that certain groups continue to act severely, subjecting civil populations to hard tests.
The current regime is faced with a series of constraints and difficulties which one should be able to apprehend individually as well as collectively.
The Seleka rebellion split up in several groups which sometimes fight amongst themselves, compelling the legitimate political power to negotiate with each movement whose interests are sometimes antagonistic.
The Antibalaka self defense movement, also knows a scattering in several groups obeying to command lines of divergent interests
Then we have also witnessed the emergence of new armed groups under non precise forms and outlines.
The embargo imposed on the country, lives on and the reorganization of the national army, Central African Armed Forces (CAAF) although engaged is not yet at a satisfactory level to suitably ensure the security of the country.
It is in this context that the new regime tries to make peace with the various rebellious groups.
From our analysis, the fact that 14 armed groups have agreed to integrate the process of Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Repatriation (DDRR) is a positive point. It is now left for the regime to find lasting and balanced converging points and which are applicable to all. It is a necessary condition to bring back the State of law on the entire territory.
Obviously, the current DDRR must be different from the former experiences. The negotiation between the armed groups and the regime is still to be made a success. The process is long sinuous, complexes, but it is the only way for a lasting peace. The return to the republican legality, is a necessity for a lasting peace which integrates the situation of ex-fighters , but also the consideration of exaction victims as well.
Still in Central Africa, post-electoral tensions remain perceptible in Gabon. What can be done to settle this crisis ?
The situation of Gabon is similar to that of many countries where presidential elections a source of extreme tension. The protest of the re-election of President BONGO is deeper than during the last presidential elections and requires a particular vigilance, even if all appears to have returned to the normal.
The first data is the impatience of the populations which do not yet benefit from the fruits of the reforms at the scope at which the regime in place announced and sometimes has started. It is thus a major social problem on the basis of the dissatisfaction of the basic needs of the population. In so doing, it is not surprising that discontent is exerted against the regime in place. And in this case, any situation which enhances a change, which promises a new deal, receives a favorable echo.
From our analysis, the regime in place must simultaneously work on two fronts:
Effectively work towards the improvement of the living standard of Gabonese, of which a majority struggle to earn a living, and better share the resources of the country.
Lead inclusive negotiations with political actors as well as with civil society actors to consolidate the democracy, the State of right.
But we realize that actors no more have any confidence in these types of negotiations, for confidence is lacking and the experiences of the past, do not necessarily encourage a recommencement.
The regime must absolutely engage in this dynamics for the love of the country and a guarantee of a calm reign; because actually, it is unto the “elderly” to stoop to greet the “younger”. That grows and brings about appeasement. The practice of Negotiational Intelligence, can be very useful.
One cannot discuss with you without bringing up the thorny crisis and the said Anglophone claims in Cameroun which is topical. How do you perceive the management of this crisis?
The feeling of a marginalisation of the anglophone community to the benefit of a “francophonization” of Cameroon is a reality which dates from the reunification of both Cameroons. Indeed, and as you know, the anglophone and francophone “problem” stretches back to the history of Cameroon which like Togo, a German colony, after the defeat of Germany during the First World War would pass on, for a part under the tutelage of France (francophone part) and the other part under the tutelage of Great Britain (Anglophone part). It almost took a year after the independence of the 1st January 1960 to arrive at the creation of the Federal Republic of Cameroon with these two francophone and Anglophone entities.
The under representation of the anglophones in leading political instances of the country, the mass unemployment of youths, the feeling of a systematic discrimination for which “francophones” are held responsible, are alas facts which reactivate by cycles, the need for autonomy of this part of Cameroon
The management of this crisis must take into account the claims of “anglophone” Cameroonians which takes away nothing from the “francophones”. This passes through structural reforms and most especially an evolution of mentalities here and there. It is thus once more, the art of responsible negotiation which proof must immediately be made of to find solutions likely to reduce the gap between the two entities of the country and avoid the grumbling to serve separatist projects which are never too far.
In DRC, the Church played and plays a determining role which is leading the country out of crisis. Do you think that religious heads can do same in Cameroun?
Out of experience, one should not neglect the contribution of any actor, when it is a question of finding solutions to a conflict situation. Religious and customary are holders of a certain authority and respectability, when they have not engaged in partisan political adventures.
In Cameroon, as in other countries, they can be determining in the search of solutions and must for that keep an intelligent distance with political acquaintances; otherwise, their neutrality would be lost and this would deprive the people of their wise inspiration.
Does the International Institute for Conflict Management help or can it help African states to reduce or put an end to conflicts …
We are already working with some States in mobilizing African expertise of the diaspora, from Africa, but equally foreign expertise as well in order to optimize the efficiency of our tools and approaches.
It is indeed important to put at the service of leaders analysis and decision tools which take into account local realities, intercultural dynamics, the place of monks, elders, etc.
When we talk about States, we obviously refer to big leaders, but equally persons in authority over administrations, local authorities, leaders of opinions, etc. Our approach lies in the fact that our intervention in a country, necessarily associates sons and daughters of the concerned country in our staff and thereafter, we can have the local relays likely to interiorize our tools and to continue the work of qualification and accompaniment of actors.
We bring and can contribute in the prevention of the conflicts but equally, in their management when, alas they occur. But beyond States, we are also stand by companies which encounter a series of conflicts whose consequences can be myriad and catastrophic.
Do you have a message?
Each one of us manages at least 10 conflicts a day. Conflict is in our daily life, from the family, to the place of work. From the technician at the service of the President of the Republic, we encounter situations of conflicts for which we are invited to decide.
We are convinced that it is in being trained that one conscientises and optimizes the empirical practices which are ours to better succeed in managing our conflicts and carry to a smooth end our projects.
We are hopeful that before long, the persons to be trained in the practice of the Negotiational Intelligence would be many, being convinced that this would bring a significant improvement in their personal and family life.
Our trainings are open and are equally measured out thanks to our capacity to adapt to the realities of actors and territories.
My last book: “The 10 keys of the Negotiational Intelligence”, published last April in France is in the process of republication with complements, it would soon be available, and will contribute to the popularization of the practice of NI.
To inform yourself and follow our activities: firstname.lastname@example.org www.institut-international-gestion-conflits.org
© Interview by Marcien Essimi – La Voix Des Décideurs – E-mail : email@example.com