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African American NGO for southern Sudan’s reconciliation

سودانيزاونلاين.كوم
sudaneseonline.com
8/12/2005 6:22am

DAKAR, Senegal, Aug 12, 2005 (PANA) — As Salva Kiir officially became Sudan’s new first vice-president Thursday, an executive of the Washington D.C-based Constituency for Africa (CFA) called for greater efforts to build democratic institutions in the country’s war-torn southern part.

Solicited by PANA for a reaction after Kiir had replaced the late Dr John Garang in that post, CFA President Melvin Foote said, during the 1983-2005 civil war, "very little was done to build democratic institutions, or to foster co-operation between the often at odds parties which make up the south."

According to Foote, "one of the major challenges from the south’s perspective is that Garang was the only person who could effectively hold the coalition together."

Foote, whose African American group champions to maintain issues of the African continent on the agenda in Washington D.C, made a private fact-finding tour of Sudan and gave suggestions that eventually changed the American government’s bias in the southern civil war.

The CFA chief executive officer affirmed that democracy was not a common feature when the Sudan People Liberation Army/Movement fought its civil war against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.

This was because "in many respects, Garang operated like many of the "strong men" which occupied much of the political space in Africa in the 70s and 80s!" Foote said in an e-mail interview with PANA in Dakar.

He conceded the death of John Garang in helicopter crash on 3 August was "a huge blow to the peace process in Sudan."

"While the peace agreement which was hammered out between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA was historic, from all accounts, it was fragile and would require a lot of effort on both sides and a lot of good luck!" he added

Foote expressed the hope that Salva Kiir "will be able to continue the process which Garang has put forth to end the war with Sudan and move towards reconciling the country."

However, he expressed fears about "forces, which are against a reconciled Sudan and want the south to opt for independence when the vote comes up in 5 years."

Under the peace agreement Garang signed with President Omar el- Bashir in Nairobi on 9 January 2005, a referendum will be held after six years of self-rule to enable the people of Southern Sudan decide whether they want to secede from the rest of the country.

"There are resources at stake, (oil and minerals) and people make money out of the continued misery in Sudan.

"I suspect a lot of effort will be made to ensure that the South will opt towards full independence and not give reconciliation a real chance," cautioned Foote.

The CFA president boasts that it was his advise to the US administration to adopt a balanced position towards the government in Khartoum and the SPLA that was instrumental in bringing about the peace agreement that the two protagonists signed in January 2005.

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