Tougher Obama is needed to secure a Peaceful Divorce in Sudan.
By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
Those who always talk of possible revert to South-North war in the Sudan are not being hypochondriacs in any way nor are they reflecting any prophecy of doom as others may be quick to lump up things. This is not to say that the Sudanese are a bloody thirsty barbaric people who find it difficult to part with these destructive wars which have already reaped 2 million lives before the US brokered the current fragile peace deal in 2005.
A very important point to take on board by anyone who wants to have anything to do with the civil wars that pitted the predominantly Arab Muslim north against the Black African, Christian and animist south, and continues to loom in the skies is for them to fully understand that there exist a huge distrust between the two sides. This is a very important key point to be acknowledged by any outsider if they are to make sense of all that they hear, read, or see.
This is something that has come into play over the centuries which witnessed listless hostilities dating back to the very early slave trade era.
For every practical reason, the ruling northern elites in Khartoum now organised under the National Islamic Front/ National Congress Party (NIF/NCP), of president al Bashir, were forced by the US administration under former president George W Bush to sign the PEACE agreement (CPA), with the southern Sudan Peopleís Liberation Movement/Army. This is one import
fact that must recognised clearly and shouldnít
be confused by wrongly assuming that Khartoum was ever at any time bent towards peaceful solutions to Sudanís multiple regional problems.
It is now clear that the implementation of the remaining provisions of the CPA is more likely to run into all kinds of problems. The NCP which has undisputedly shown obvious lack of political will to implement the agreement in its fullest is now back to foot dragging.
Not too long following the declaration of controversial election results which saw both al Bashir and Salva Kiir back in their posts both in the north and south respectively, the Sudanese 2nd Vice president Ali Osman Taha, hailed remarks made by South Sudan president Salva Kiir regarding "affirmative action" towards the unity of Sudan
Taha further said that the post-referendum issues will be discussed in the same spirit of national unity to promote the former, noting that next week will announce the formation of Southern Sudan Referendum Commission comprised of figures known to possess both patriotism and objectivity.
But as time has come to pass, the descriptions put forwards by the ruling NCP for people they want to include in the referendum commission seems non-existent in present day south Sudan. Ali Osman Taha is clearly looking only for southern unionists to be in the commission. Let us see whether he may want to recycle Justice Abel Alier who was till recent the chairperson of the corrupt and fraudulent general elections commission that badly fell below the international standard although of course it succeeded in its intended mission and
reinstated president al Bashir and his deputy Salva Kiir back in their respective places.
However the SPLM has expressed concern over the limited time left to resolve the outstanding issues in the implementation of the 2005ís North-South peace deal that ended the 21 years of brutal civil war, yet they cannot offer their northern peace partners with the candidates that can appeal to the Islamists taste.
Everybody from the two peace partners (NCP & SPLM) plus the International Community are fully aware that time is fast running out and that the two parties should resume the negotiations in implementing several contentious issues before the referendum takes place seven months from now.
The negotiations were of course interrupted by the recent elections and have not yet resumed with the understanding that the government could be formed first.
However in a probable NCP malicious tactics to delay taking any crucial steps on the referendum, the formation of government in Khartoum has already been delayed until the end of May or beginning of June.
Nafie Ali Nafie, the presidential assistant to al Bashir told reporters that the unity of Sudan is not an issue of the NCP and SPLM alone, but rather of all the Sudanese people through its various orientations and political parties. He also reiterated the NCPís support and readiness to any action that would lead to the unity of Sudan in cooperation with the SPLM and the other political forces.
Let us hope that these gentlemen are not talking of possibly handing the country to yet another military junta or even considering a situation that can justify the declaration of a state of emergency in the country, thus deferring the referendum indefinitely. OR still not that they want a referendum commission that can rig the whole process in favour of keeping the country united in the bid for the north to keep milking the Oil revenues which largely come from the southern Oil fields.
Getting the other political forces to share in the decisions of whether to maintain the Sudan as a united country or to give in to the mounting demand for secession by the south at this particular moment in the Sudanese politics after having degraded these parties in the conducted elections as shown by the huge levels of corruption and fraud, is just another cheap way of yet trying to water down the right of the Southerners to self determination.
Although we are being continuously reminded that the SPLM is well ahead of its partner in that it has already prepared its four nominees for the referendum commission, the NCP is still to present theirs so as to make the membership eight in number. Another tenacious bit would as well be on how the two opposing sides are going to agree on the choice for the chairperson of the commission given the fact that the two are quick to disagree than agree on anything in light of Khartoumís malicious negotiating strategies.
As such there arises a need for an outside pressure to argue the two sides to resume negotiations even before the formation of the government in Khartoum. There are obviously still a great deal of issues to be tackled before the referendum if revert to war is to be avoided.
It is alright to hear that the African Union is now leading the efforts for holding the referendum on time. And it is also good to listen to the US Envoy to Sudan, Retired General Gration when said that his government would want to see a free, fare and credible referendum come January 2011.
However when we recall that many agreements have been dishonored by successive governments in Khartoum, we can now talk of
own experience in that, he was initially promised by Omer al Bashirís NCP,
that the elections would be free and fair. Sadly enough the General trusted the NCP and went ahead and misled the international opinion into believing that Khartoum has changed overnight. The truth is that both the NCP and to some extend the SPLM have failed to live up to their words and the elections suffered a massive fraud. The question is now, how much does he (Gration) and entire US administration
still have towards the Sudanese leadership in terms of trust?
Given all these unhealthy developments that surrounded the elections, it is clear that any progress towards a peaceful end to the CPA will depend more on what the US administration can do to put the two peace partners back on track to fully implement the agreement and above all to respect the choice that will be made by the people of the south in a free and fair referendum.
In the recent past we have heard of
reports released by some non-government organisations (NGOs), who warned that Sudan risks a return to violence if President Barack Obamaís Administration does not pressure parties on the ground to work for peace.
Obama announced in October, 2010,
that the United States would engage in more active diplomacy with Sudanís regime, offering incentives for engagement while retaining the threat of sanctions if Khartoum continued to pursue what the United States has termed genocide in the Darfur region and should it continue putting obstacles to the full implementation of the CPA with the south which obviously includes the holding of
the self determination referendum for the people of south Sudan and Abyei , together with the popular consultations for the other contested areas of the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile, before the 9th of January 2011.
A quick assessment of the situations on the ground clearly reveals that there are already evolving trends which are both dangerous and disturbing with a possible revert to full blown
war in the absence of any foreign intervention.
Equally disturbing also is the fact that more six months have passed since the US policy on the Sudan was announced, yet no tangible change Khartoumís attitude is seen
by neither sealing peace in Darfur nor keeping up with the full and timely implementations of the CPA with the south.
As already mentioned above, the 9th of January is barely a few months ahead, yet there are a huge list of tenacious issues that need to be ironed out within the limited remaining period of time.
The NCP has consciously chosen to put obstacle ahead of the referendum to make up
for its failure to make the unity of the country any attractive and appealing to the people of the south. However any negatives that would impact on the referendum will obviously send the Southís SPLM led government into a unilateral declaration of independence, regardless of the international recognition that it could possible risk.
Nevertheless to avoid any of these dangerous scenarios from surfacing, president Obama has to come into terms and clearly see that itís now high time for his administration to back its words with deeds, though to date, there are virtually no indications that the administration has held any
of the parties to account for their actions.
Our hope however now rests on the fact that the US policy on the Sudan does contain a good deal of sticks which if used
will undoubtedly enhance a rapid progress in the implementation of the remaining CPA provisions and sure enough to guarantee the peaceful emergence of a viable, stable and recognised new state in south Sudan. And with another better balance of carrots and sticks, the Darfur crisis can also be settled once and for all.
Again it is worth noting that nothing good can be expected from those fanatics in Khartoum until Obama buys to the fact that the NIF/NCP of INDICTED al Bashir only responds to pressure and does so very well, otherwise general Gration will soon be forced out of office in the face of a full revert to war in south Sudan, a thing likely to happen anytime from now.
Khartoum at this stage needs more of Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice to clearly tell Omer al Bashir that the US administration is not going to allow him again to use any of his Russian or Chinese made war planes to bomb villages in south Sudan. These two ladies definitely promise the way forward, and they are capable of pressurizing this fugitive general into behaving himself.
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either