Oslo Forum Statement
On the Occasion of the Visit to Sudan by H.E the Director of Africa Desk, World Bank
The Oslo Forum, a Sudanese civil society platform launched on the Eve of the infamous Oslo Peace Conference, 2005, appreciates the sanctioning of the MDTF- (Multinational Donor Trust Fund) which was created as a joint endeavor that brings in collaboration of the Government of Sudan (GOS), the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and the Sudanese Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the auspices of the World Bank. The Sudanese CSOs represented by Oslo Forum as stakeholders was swiftly brushed aside when it came to planning peace dividends and the implementation process which was neither transparent nor fair for the grass roots for whose sake the fund was in place.
The Donors pledges made in Oslo trickled down to a mere fraction of what was initially in the books. Policy decisions as to where to invest and what to invest in were marred with regional lobbing and whims of political desire. The Bank was consciously or otherwise applying the same aid policy games of international aid and failed to neither appease fruitful delivery nor facilitate materialization of the donor’s pledges. Thus the Bank not only blessed erroneous priorities for the funds made available for the Bank to manage, but also failed to provide substantive own funds for the process of good implementation of the CPA. For unjust political reasons Sudan, one of the highly indebted countries was denied the preferential treatment of debt relief. The World Bank in its dealings with Sudan is insensitive to the miseries of the Sudanese and the swamping poverty and the poverty stricken villages and the urban poor. The poverty reduction Strategic paper of Sudan as if demonized is still waiting for finalization after six years. It is the saga of one country or two countries.
While Sudan pulled out of the ferocious war and conflict with a capacity to fund 65% (thanks to oil revenues) of the total estimated budget for the six year transition years, the bank failed to mobilize enough resources, to cover the balance, that is 35% and further failed to manage what was actually made available (about 10%) and showed indifference to policies meant to widen the social safety net.
The relationship of the Sudanese CSOs and the Bank remained at best sporadic and whimsical. Our earnest quest in the civil society to interact and our incessant effort to make dialogue was met with disinterest. O ur initiatives were rebuffed time and again. More than six statements, distributed inside the MDTF steering and technical meetings dissipated in thin air. None of our recommendations were taken seriously.
We hold the Bank responsible in part for the sluggish performance and the withered away opportunities that were once hoped to come as a peace dividend package. If the people of South Sudanese decided to go their own way next year, we will eventually conclude that peace brokered by the CPA marginalized more than harmonized. For reasons beyond our grasp the World Bank didn’t make the effort to lay ground for peace dividends to work for convergence. The World Bank, it seems is still toying with its favorite norms.
Your Excellency, we call for a special effort by the Bank to be part of the peace building process by:
1. Making an international commitment to the continuation and invigoration of the CPA to make unity a necessity rather than an attractive proposition. It is obviously unbecoming and indeed deplorable that the Bank is boycotting Sudan Government and at the same time holding the MDTF leverage as a policy kit to manipulate both GOSS and GNU.
2. Provide for the gap in funding the 25% already agreed upon in Oslo and Paris and making good governance and conflict prevention as conditionality rather than the sustained failure the economic liberalization of the economy which is reckoned to be squarely behind the fast growing impoverishment.
3. Make more constructive engagement with the civil society and ensure that the civil society warrant some serious attention. The World Bank and the UN for that matter have long been advocates of full participation of the civil society this sector has its own choices as partners and share information and results. In your circles this remains an act of hope.
We are still hoping for an audience with your Excellency.
And our forum assures you of their highest regards
And wishes you a successful mission in Sudan.
Dr. Khalid Hassan Idris
Dr. Haj Hamad M.K Haj Hamad
For the executive committee