Common sense shows that ill-prepared agreements or dictated treaties never last long. The current quandary in Abuja, Nigeria over the contentious draft peace document which is now on the table should be impartially and honestly re-examined by the mediators and other concerned parties before insisting that the rebel groups immediately give their assent. No one in a right frame of mind would compromise with a covenant that emasculates or enfeebles his destiny.
SLA's apprehension and consequently reservation on the 85-page document is justifiably understandable. The demands of the Rebel Movement could be fully addressed by restructuring the draft document to accommodate their viewpoints and demands. They have asked for genuine power, security and wealth sharing arrangements. There is no harm done in requesting the position of a Vice president. A Darfuri could become, for instance, a second Vice president in Sudan during the transition or the interim period of rule, without causing detriment to other parties or upsetting the current political leadership symmetry in the government of National Unity.
An equitable blueprint for wealth sharing should be structured and included in the draft peace agreement. The creation of the special fund to cater for the development of Darfur's three regions as proposed by the government of Sudan in the agreement document is not a workable solution to the regions' chronic underdevelopment problem. A consistent formula for wealth sharing with the government in Khartoum should be devised. Since the Oil wealth in the Country is split up on a 50% share basis between the North and the South, and as Darfur is territorially part of North Sudan, it should be entitled to share in Khartoum's 50% portion of the Oil revenue, on a specified percentage and based on the size of the region and taking into account decades of deliberate economic marginalisation and ruined infrastructure.
The limited integration of the rebel soldiers into the government's security forces as stipulated in the draft agreement is neither an ideal solution nor a tenable proposition. Sudan government must work out a viable and acceptable modus operandi for getting to the bottom of this delicate and sensitive issue of integrating the SLA forces into the national framework of the security system and the disarmament of the janjaweed bandits.
Darfur should keep one state instead of the current three, with a government and regional parliament so that they run their own affairs without encroachment and interference on the part of the authorities in Khartoum.
The whole body of the SLA combatants should be absorbed and be part of the National army and security establishment, but must be constitutionally sanctioned to maintain an adequate and credible deterrent force in Darfur for self defence, while the Janjaweed entirely disband, and those who committed various criminal offences be prosecuted and punished according to the law of the country. Such a move would create an atmosphere of reconciliation and appeasement between the victims and their offenders as Sudanese are renowned for the spirit of exoneration and national consensus.
Incorporating the Janjaweed highwaymen into the government's regular army is tantamount to rewarding those forces of doom for their despicable crimes committed in Darfur with the knowledge and stealthy backing of other parties in Sudan. One would still wonder and be inclined to question the honesty of the government about its assurance of speedy disarmament of the Janjaweed forces after the signing of the document.
If the Authorities in Sudan are now contemplating a hasty disarmament of the Janjaweed at this moment when the draft peace document is on the table ready for endorsement, why had it been impractical and difficult to deactivate the militia in the last three years? Why permitting the mayhem to persist in Darfur? The rebels are justified in being guarded and hesitant at the negotiating table. Elbowing them into a hustled covenant with unpredictable consequences by the mediators is irresponsible and unacceptable. The AU must forge a bona fide and durable solution, and not a face-saving formula. The AU in Darfur has already done much blunder. It has demonstrated political insensitivity and displayed unprecedented weakness by allowing the carnage and rape to continue while standing on the sidelines with folded arms.
AU Chairman Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Commission Head Alpha Oumar Konare alongside Salim Ahmed Salim and other parties should now be preoccupied with revising the draft document with a view to incorporate new proposals, and eliciting compromises especially from the government of Sudan, imploring it to soften its obdurate stance in order to resolve the conflict. Deadlines, timelines or phrases like 'the parties are given 48 hours' or 'one more day' are inconsistent and alien to the ethics and philosophy of negotiations.
Peter Lokarlo Marsu.-Australia.
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