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Our Vision on the prospect of peace to end the Darfur tragedy/By Dr. M.A.Suleiman
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May 18, 2007 - 9:23:34 PM

 

Our Vision on the prospect of peace to end the Darfur tragedy

By Dr. M.A.Suleiman

May 2007

 

Mr.Yan Eliasson, Special envoy to Darfur , said that world powers should focus on getting a political deal among the government and rebel groups in Darfur on power sharing, wealth distribution and security. Hans-Joachim Preuss, the relief agency Welthungerhilfe’s Secretary General, stated that the peace agreement reached almost a year ago was endorsed de facto by a single signatory on the side of the rebels and was therefore doomed to failure. It’s now time to acknowledge the complexity of the conflict: “Claiming [that] it’s merely about Arabs against Africans falls far short of doing justice to the problem.” I am in agreement.

. A major cause of the crisis is the systematic neglect of the province. Water shortages and insufficient land have aggravated the conflict in the desert region. “As a result Arab nomads suffer just as much as African farmers,” explains Preuß. “The fronts are therefore much more blurred than often presented.”

In the overall climate of insecurity and violence, relief agencies are also suffering, repeatedly forced to break off distribution to refugees and other affected people due to raids and fighting. “A Peace negotiation, a ceasefire, a strong peacekeeping force, repatriation of refugees, humanitarian aid and reconstruction is the only way to resolve the conflict,” says Preuß.

Mr. Salim said: "There can be no military solution to the crisis in Darfur ."

Mr. Eliasson said: "We want to work hand-in-hand in diplomacy and in trying to find a road to a political process."

New UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to pay the highest attention to the conflict in Darfur .

 

The Tripoli Consensus meeting, attended by representatives of the AU, Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, the European Union and the League of Arab States voiced support for the work of the UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, and urged them “to intensify consultations and rapidly finalize their road-map on a strategy and timeline for renewed negotiations.”

 

It is our conviction that in order to find a comprehensive solution to the conflict as soon as possible in the wake of the abject failure of the Abuja peace agreement (DPA) is to restart genuine transparent serious inclusive peace negotiations with the understanding that the main root causes of Darfur conflict are political. If the three pillars of the United Nations are peace and security, development and human rights, people of Darfur suffer the loss of all. A major cause of the crisis is the systematic marginalization and neglect of the region by the Central Government dominated by one social group, the Riverine elites of the Northern region of Sudan for the past fifty years.

The demands of people of Darfur are neither prohibitive nor unreasonable. They are the basic rights of a citizen in any civilized nation that respects and cares for its people. One would wonder what would it matter if Darfur became one region similar to the Southern Sudan ? Would it matter when people of Darfur demand to have their carved out territory back to the borders of 1956. Furthermore, one would like to understand why the Government of Sudan is unwilling to allow people of Darfur share power, wealth and enjoy security like other citizens elsewhere?  Isn’t it ludicrous and unjust that the Government of Sudan to deny the innocent non-combatant Darfur civilians’ compensation for the suffering they endured through loss of loved ones, property, livestock and personal injuries? Isn’t it a fair demand that Government of Sudan to reconstruct the war-ravaged infrastructure that was already fragile and meagre?

Primary Stakeholders, namely National Redemption Front (NRF), SLA/M faction of Abdul Wahid, Greater SLM, Splinter groups from SLM, need to agree, at the minimum, on basic demands of people of Darfur before negotiations start if full accord or unity becomes elusive. Furthermore, those who were affected by the conflict, namely those in the IDP camps, refugees and the Diasporas have legitimate right to be accommodated in the consultation process. 

 We share Mr. Eliasson’s assertion that ‘there is no military solution to the Darfur conflict’. We also accept the statement that neither the government of Sudan nor the rebel groups would be able to achieve lasting victory over the other in the long run. It is hence imperative for everybody to move forward to the negotiating table with strong will to manoeuvre the catastrophic stalemate where people of Darfur continue to endure hardships.

The Darfur Ceasefire Commission (CFC) that was indorsed by the representatives from the SLM/A faction of Abdul Wahid and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), who have not signed the DPA, and pledged their support for all efforts at securing a lasting peace in Darfur through monitoring all provisions related to suspension of aggressive actions as stipulated in the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) failed to deliver due to blunders made by the African Union Mission In Sudan (AMIS) in El Fasher, Sudan . We believe that prior to restarting new round of peace negotiations rejuvenation of the Ceasefire Commission is needed. Otherwise, Ethnic Cleansing will continue to happen despite the mere existence of the CFC, which has become not fit for the purpose.

 

K O F F Newsletter states:” When it comes to solving the Darfur conflict there is a noticeable reluctance on the part of the South. This is due among other things to its adoption of an erroneous strategy, but it also reflects the fear that once a solution is found for Darfur the South will no longer interest anyone and the sources of aid will dry up. One of the main problems is the lack of a shared vision of a united Sudan among actors all of whom are exclusively focused on their own regions”.

Our comrades in the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) can rest assured that the demands of the people of Darfur will not be charged against gains achieved in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) known as the Naivasha Agreement. The demands of the people of Darfur will be charged against the Northern Sudan ’s share of power and wealth. Moreover, the people of Darfur will never be spoilers of the CPA. They will strive to protect the achievements of the marginalized majority of the Sudan .

We want voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to their homes. Provision of infrastructure such as water source, schools, primary healthcare services and police force to protect civilians is basic requirement.

So as not to put the cart before the horse, we may need the peace process to antedate peacekeeping forces, as happened in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), better known locally the Naivasha Agreement.

 We sincerely admit that the African Union has contributed immensely in its roles as a mediator in the painstaking Abuja peace negotiations and in the peacekeeping process where its soldiers made scores of sacrifices to save the lives of many non-combatant civilians in Darfur . However, we had deep concerns about the impartiality of the AU team that mediated the round of negotiations that lead to the signing of the so-called Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) on Friday 5th of May 2006 in Abuja , Nigeria . Nevertheless, we continue to value role of AU.  The AMIS Peacekeeping Force in Darfur needs strengthening, logistic support and a clear mandate to enable it to provide effective civilian protection.

We are sure enough to assert that Arabism the ruling party in Sudan claims in isolation from its African ancestry originates at best from paranoia of a feeling of an inferiority complex. At worst it is a tactical deception to obtain support of the Arab world in international forums. It seems the regime’s Ultra Arabism claim has encouraged the Arab media to be extremely biased, irresponsible and unethical. Although Arab governments are expected to have International legal obligation and moral duty to do all they can to ensure that International Crimes are not committed against civilians in Darfur , they regrettably chose to support the government of Sudan . This standpoint is due, probably, to their lack of knowledge and/or understanding of the Darfur situation in the Arab World.

Needless to reiterate the crucial role expected to be exercised by the regional and International actors, namely Chad, Eritrea, Libya, Egypt, UN, US, EU and AU in the Darfur peace process. It is imperative for all to learn from the many mistakes made during the DPA in Abuja last year.

When new round of peace negotiations begins, it would be an onus of the mediators to realise that the parties must convincingly ratify the agreement reached.  In order to guarantee lasting peace, the question of ownership must be fully considered and temptations of forcing parties to sign must be avoided.  Moreover, mediators must allow sufficient time for parties to study draft of any reached agreement and make proper consultation prior to final commitment to the deal.

 

David Byers et al (The Times Online: April 2007) reports that “China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil exports and sells the African country weapons and military aircraft. In the past, the Chinese leadership has been criticized for not using its influence to do more to stop the Darfur crisis”. “China has indicated that it will block any attempt by Britain and the United States to push for sanctions against Sudan, despite new evidence that the African state has disguised military planes as United Nations aircraft and bombed villages in its war-torn Darfur region.”  We, the Darfurians, urge China as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to abide by its International legal obligation and moral duty not to back a regime that has been indicted for crimes against humanity.

Concluding Remarks

The DPA was a farce product of pressure and intimidation imposed on the Darfur Rebel movements more than an internally agreed peace accord.

The tragedy in Darfur will only abate when the government of Sudan begins a genuine transparent dialogue and bargain process of inclusive peace negotiations with the unified Darfur rebel movements.

The government of Sudan is obliged to abandon the policies of arming its proxy militias, indiscriminate air raid campaigns of bombing whenever negotiations commence as a tactic to sabotage peace process and buying time.

We are in quest of just peace for the people of Darfur who have endured suffering for more than four years. We are ready to enter serious peace negotiations brokered and mediated by the AU and observed by international Guarantors at any time in an impartial country.

 

We strongly support the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s statement that “respect for national sovereignty can no longer be used as a shield by governments intent on massacring their own people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing when such heinous crimes are committed”.  The international community will have to recognize that the indicted ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum  will continue to wage war and defy its obligations as long as it does not face tough punitive multilateral measures in support of a new peace agreement to end the Darfur crisis.

 

We in the Justice & Equality Movement (JEM) outrightly reject the unfounded claim orchestrated by the ruling infamous ‘National’ Congress Party (NCP) that JEM espouses an Islamist ideology, and linked to Hassan al-Turabi’s Popular Congress Party ( PCP ). This allegation is part of the regime’s pathetic propaganda to tarnish the reputation of its dreaded number One enemy JEM. We would like to point out that JEM is an independent freedom-seeking Organisation fighting to rectify the imbalance of Power and Wealth in Sudan in order that people of Darfur and the marginalized majority achieve their legitimate rights. Moreover, JEM will become a political party when lasting peace, rule of law and democracy prevail in Sudan .

 

The international community and regional countries need to put more pressure on the government of Sudan to provide an environment conducive to confidence-building before thinking about meditating fresh round of negotiations. This regime is renowned for use of deceit, prevarication, overrule, conniving and the purchase of hirelings to gain time as it did before.

 

 

References:

1) Coalition for Darfur : http//coalitionfordarfur.blogspot/search/label/U.N.

    May 2, 2007 .

2) Sudan Rejects ICC Arrest Warrant: by Stephanie van den Beg, The Hague , the Netherlands . Mail & Guardian Online 07.05.07.

3) The Darfur Conflict & Civilian Protection: Conference Report: 29-30 Jan 2007, by The Cairo Institute for Hunan Rights Studies (CIHRS)

www.darfurconsortium.org/Assets/PDF-s/CII-HRSPaper01.01.07.pdf

4) AU Unveils Ceasefire Commission for Darfur : Angola Press News, Page 1 16.06.2006.

5) The Security Situation in Darfur a “Total Failure” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said: Source International Herald Tribune, Tuesday 1, May 2007.

6) UN in New Peace Drive for Darfur : BBC News

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6236381.stm

 

7) U.N. Pledges Revitalized Darfur Effort

Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines: Editor Robert Sheer: 5th January 2007 .

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/20070105_un_pledges_revitalized_darfur_effort/

 

8) China says it opposes any Sudan sanctions: By David Byers, Richard Beeston and Agencies: From the Times Online: April 19, 2007 .

 9) 8) Excerpts on Darfur from Farewell address by Kofi Annan

AfricaFocus Bulletin, Dec 29, 2006 (061229) cited from CBC News in Depth (http://www.cbc.ca/)

9) Sudan Roundtable with Analysis of the Current Situation: K O F F Newsletter Nr.53/01.12.2006




 Author’s address:

Dr. Mahmoud.A.Suleiman

Deputy Chairman for Justice & Equality Movement (JEM)

E-mail address:

[email protected]




 



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