Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA P.O. Box: 3243 Tel: (251-1) 51 38 22 Fax: (251-1) 51 93 21
BY DR. SALIM AHMED SALIM, SPECIAL ENVOY,
PLENARY SESSION AT THE CONCLUSION OF
THE FIFTH ROUND OF TALKS
Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, Special Envoy
Plenary session at the Conclusion of the Fifth Round of Talks
Distinguished Representatives of the Government of Sudan,
The Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM/A),
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM),
Partners, Facilitators and Observers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me welcome you to this concluding session of the Fifth Round of Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on the conflict in Darfur.
This is the moment of truth in our joint and collective effort to end the conflict and consequent humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
When this Fifth Round of Talks commenced on 10 June 2005, we were optimistic. The reassuring statements by the high Representatives of the Government of Sudan, the SLM/A and JEM, did not only raise our hopes that finally, we would finalize and adopt a Declaration of Principles, but also, the hopes of the people of Darfur and the international community for a comprehensive negotiations to bring about a definitive settlement of the conflict. You will recall that the common theme in the statements that were made by all the speakers was the strong emphasis put on the need to end the suffering of the supporting people of Darfur in general, the women and children in particular. In the course of our deliberations, our optimism was tempered by our realism. We have had our ups and downs.
Our role, since these Talks started has been and is to assist you, the Representatives of the people of Darfur and your Government to rediscover each other, inspite of a difficult past history in order to make peace.
- Making peace requires a mindset that looks to the future and not the past;
- It requires a mindset that is ready to compromise in the interest of peace;
- Peace requires a mindset, that accepts the singularity of the Sudanese people forged by centuries of history, that you are one people, for after all where as you can choose your friends you cannot choose your brothers and sisters, or for that matter you cannot choose the neighbors that god had given you by geography and accident of birth;
- Peace also requires a mindset, that acknowledges and denounces past injustices, inequality, human rights abuses and marginalization in any part of the Sudan;
- The peace that we seek in the Sudan requires a mindset that renounces conflict as a means of achieving justice;
- Most importantly, true peace requires a mindset that embraces the diversity of the people of Sudan, and its multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural character. It is only in this way that the people of Darfur and the Sudan, can be at peace with themselves and with the rest of Africa.
For us, as the Mediation Team, Partners, Facilitators and Observers, we see you and your brothers and sisters in the other parts of the Sudan as one family, woven together by one history, and with a single destiny, shaped by the blood, sweat and tears of the heroes and heroines of the past.
We have, indeed, arrived a moment of truth:
We have a DoP that is agreed by the three Parties and finalized.
By finalizing and adopting the DoP, the Parties have clearly indicated their serious desire for peace in Darfur. It has not been an easy experience, and this in fact, is what happens in the aftermath of wars and conflict. We sit with bitter memories that conditioned us to be distrustful of each other. I fully understand this.
What makes the conflict in Darfur a very sad development is that it is a bitter family feud. Whenever innocent blood is shed with women and children victimized for no reason at all, the pangs of anger last a very long time. Even after the conflict stops, there is a residue of mistrust. When it happens within a family, it takes a much longer time to heal the wounds. This DoP is, but one step in that road to peace and a new Sudan. But it is an important step.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the three Parties for their role, which has led to the adoption of their Declaration of Principles. The DoP is merely a political guide for the political negotiations that are yet to come on power sharing, national wealth sharing and security arrangements.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles which we are about to witness comes at a special historical context for our continent, The African Heads of State and Government have just concluded their Summit in Sirte, Libya, where one the central issues for consideration was the promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in our continent. It also comes on the eve of the Summit of the Leaders of the G8 in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Furthermore, a few days ago, young people around the world got together in unprecedented manner to stage marathon musical concerts to draw attention to the need to end suffering in Africa and the need to end the conflicts that have made us the most unstable, poor and suffering continent in the world. It is also important to keep in mind the establishment of National Unity Government in the Sudan on 9 July 2005.
In sum, the world focus is on Africa. It is also on Darfur. By adopting the DoP you have demonstrated your own determination that you will not let down the people of Darfur, you will not let down the people of Sudan, you will not let down the people of Africa and c you will not let down our friends in the international community.
I believe by adopting this Declaration, the message from Abuja will be towards the ending of the conflict in Darfur and the realization of peace, Security and Stability for all. Clearly, as I already stated, this is just the beginning. Formidable challenge lies ahead.
But if we continue to be guided by the aspirations and desire of the people of Darfur when we begin as soon as practicable, full scale negotiations to end the conflict, then I am convinced that no hurdle will be insurmountable.
It has been said, and I agree, that Darfur was primarily an African problem, but also an international problem. We, as the African Union cherish the partnership of our international partners, shown individually and collectively, in this endeavor. It is my sincere hope that we shall continue to collaborate together until we have a final resolution of the Darfur conflict.
I wish also to express my personal thanks and appreciation to the Partners, Facilitates and Observers to their invaluable contribution to the mediation process during the course of the last three weeks. I salute and commend you for your very supportive and responsible approach in pushing the Parties to finalize and adopt the DoP. I wish in particular, to pay tribute to the African Facilitators and Observers – Nigeria, Chad, Libya, Eritrea and Egypt, as well as our partners – Canada, USA, Norway, the Netherlands, France, the UK and Germany, the UN the EU and the League of Arab Sates, for their untiring efforts and personal support to me and the Mediation Team.
I would be remise if I did not express my particular appreciation to President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairperson of the Commission, Professor Alpha Omar Konare, for the confidence they have reposed in my person and for the cooperation they have extended to me since I assumed my role of Special Envoy and Mediator.
In closing, I wish to express my deep appreciation and thanks to His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the current Chairman of the African Union, and the great people of Nigeria for hosting these important talks in the beautiful city of Abuja and we appreciate the contribution Nigeria has made and continues to make for peace in Darfur, and in the other parts of the continent.
I wish also to express thanks and gratitude to the other African leaders who facilitated this round of talks and to Partners, Facilitators and Observers who worked so hard. It is my hope that you will continue to accompany us during the next phase of political negotiations.
I wish, in this regard, to appeal to the Parties to undertake serious preparations for the forthcoming substantive negotiations.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very new in this role. My work has been facilitated not only by the cooperation extended to me by the Parties, Facilitators, Partners and Observers, but also by the excellent and hard working AU Team ably led by Ambassador Sam Ibok. To all of them, I wish to register my profound appreciation.
In conclusion, I wish to thank all of you for your perseverance and contributions and wish you a deserved break until we meet again, soon.