It is Darfur Again and the Misery Goes On
Accra Mail (Accra)
By E. Ablorh-Odjidja
Three days after the brutal murder of African peacekeepers in Darfur, Archbishop Tutu, the highly regarded leader of conscience, led a council of elders on a mission there. In tow also was President Carter, the perpetual peacekeeper.
It is hard to fit President Carter in any African leadership construct, but he was there. Perhaps, after this junket, he could earn a Nobel Peace prize like he did after Oslo, and then there would be peace in Darfur, like there has always been in Palestine since!
Indeed, we need to dull our senses to believe that this hybrid council of elders is necessary because our African villages, towns, cities, parliaments and the AU organization itself are empty of competent elders, so President Carter can act as substitute!Still, with great respect to this council, the purpose of the trip is the question to ask. Has there not been enough talk and fact finding already? Peace in Darfur, this hell hole which the Sudanese government has allowed to exist since the beginning of this century, will not come through talk alone.
Ten AU soldiers have been reported murdered in the latest attack at Haskanita, Darfur. Many are wounded and some are still missing.
The AU, as usual, is threatening action, which it will not take, instead of asking how it got itself hoodwinked into providing a fighting force that it is incapable of sustaining without help from outside nations.
But to hear from President Carter, it is as if the end of the conflict is near. He reported the following from President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan.
"He (Bashir) promised us there would be $300 million in all coming to the Darfur region in compensation, $100m coming from the government, and $200m to be a loan from the Chinese."
Permission for mirth should be granted at this point: But the question is compensation for what, the lives of the 400,000 plus African Sudanese who have been killed in Darfur so far? A paltry sum of $750 per head for each dead?
You would think money is all that is needed to bring peace to Darfur. If so, then why not let President Bashir keep his $100 million, and the borrowed $200 million from the Chinese, so he could assure peace within his own dominion rather than accept this insult on the heads of so many dead African Sudanese?
Again, Darfur is an ongoing conflict. The UN doesn't seem to see it as genocide. And now that the AU has gotten itself right smack in the middle, the conflict is conveniently being seen as a tribal one as the latest report seem to suggest.
The 157 AU soldiers at the Haskanita outpost were attacked by "a large force numbering up to 1,000 well-equipped Darfuri rebels." Note, the Darfuri rebels, the Sudanese Africans, are now the bad guys, not the Arab Janjaweed .
Of course, in the middle of a desert and in the dark of the night, optical illusions do happen. A Janjaweed could be mistaken for a Darfuri rebel, especially when the former is in disguise. Hopefully, it will take another tour of the Council of Elders to find that out.
But all may not be lost. It seems Archbishop Tutu, the great freedom fighter, would have been calling for war were it not for his cassock. All one need to do is to listen to his language during this mission of the elders, when he called on world governments to speed up deployment of the 26,000 joint UN-AU replacement force of peacekeepers for Darfur.
"I am making a call to people of good will ... for goodness sake, tell your governments to get off their butts," Tutu said.
St. Peter will not tolerate this outburst, but for an Archbishop to use this language means his spirit has been pushed beyond his human skin.
"It is unacceptable that the AU mission is not better equipped. They couldn't even evacuate the injured after the Haskanita attack because they don't have military helicopters," Reuters reported the Archbishop as saying.
So the Archbishop is mad. The AU can get mad too. Individual governments can stand up to Sudan. At least South Africa can. So can Nigeria or the ECOWAS countries. But what are they doing?
Just listening to Mr. James Kalilangwe, chairman of the AU peace and Security Council explain future AU action is enough to make your stomach turn. The AU, he said, was thinking about "strengthening the camp defenses of the peacekeeping force."
Perhaps, with the $300 million from Sudan now in the hands of President Carter of the African Council of Elders; AU troop defenses can be rebuilt and strengthened. Sadly, the defenses can also be blown to smithereens by Chinese supplied arms.
A lot has been said about how easy is it is to ridicule Africa. The $300 million in the hands of the Council of Elders is one sure way. Allow this writer to think that a lot can be done for Darfur by banishing Sudan from the AU.