No Region No Peace
By Tadjadine Bechir Niam
Sudan is the largest country in Africa, bordering nine countries, with population of 34 million, according to the last census. Sudan is characterized by huge diversity , it is multi-religious, multi-cultural, and multi-linguistic. It is a country blessed with immense natural resources in agriculture, livestock, minerals and soil, which awaits only sustainable peace, stability and capital to materialize into real wealth. Since political independence in 1956, there has been a state of war in South Sudan, which developed since the 1980s to include East Kordofanian, Blue Nile and Darfur (2003).The victims of this tragic wars are the civilians, especially women and children, whose voice has been silenced.
Darfur was an independent Sultanate with its own borders, flag, currency and international relations before the present Sudan existed. Darfur joint the League of Nations and remained a member till 1922. In the First World War(1914-1918) Darfur and the then Sudan entered different camps. Darfur joined the German&Turky front ,while the Nile at then joined the British Empire. Ali Dinar the Sultan sent messages for Al Sonasi of Libya and Osman Daffodil of Nigeria asking them to join him and fight the axes. That provoked the condemnation of the rulers in Sudan at that time. They sent troops which defeated the Darfur people, but only after fierce and braver battles near Al fasher. Darfur subsequently attached the current day Sudan in 1916.
Darfur is a home of more than 50 tribes and ethnic groups. According to 1993 census, its population is about 7 million in addition to 2million in the capital and other states of Sudan. They lived peacefully and integrated in many ways, and most of their disputes were settled by their local tradional system including the Native Administration (which was abolished in 1971). Darfur shares international border with four countries: Central African Republic, Chad, Libya and Egypt. It has administrative boundaries with Bher Al Gazal from the South, Kordofan from the East, and the Northern state from the extreme North East. On January 1956 the independence day Darfur was one of the Nine Provinces of Sudan. In 1980 the late President of Sudan Nimeri introduced the Regional Governments Act, making Darfur one of the six regions of Sudan (Darfur, Kordofan, Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern). In 1994 the regime of current President Omar al-Bashir issued Presidential DecreeNo.10, and Darfur divided into three states (Northern, Southern, and Western).
After a long fighting, the South opted for self –determination (2005), and a referendum is planned for the coming January 9th2011 The East has an agreement in Asmara, Eritrea on 2006. In Darfur, despite all the valuable efforts of AU, UN, EU, AL, OIC, USA, Canada, and all peace loving nations and NGOS, still the situation remain tense. The partial, unimplemented DPA of Abuja , is far from bringing peace in Darfur.
On 23 February 2010, two major events concerning Darfur took place in Doha: the founding of Liberation Justice Movement (LJM/A),and the signing of a Framework Agreement by Justice Equality Movement of Khalil (JEM-K). Immediately, as usual JEM-K, claimed it was the sole movement on the ground and enjoys the support of Sudanese and Darfurians. Khalil called on the Mediation to stop contacts with LJM/A & other movements and expel it from Doha, or else his movement would leave the venue. The Mediation kept its firm position of working with all the movements willing and committed it to the peaceful process. JEM-K left Doha in May to Cairo, Egypt and from there to Libya, Chad and again back to Libya where Khalil is living in semi-exile with some of his fellow members.
LJM/A signed its comprehensive Framework Agreement on 18\ March 2010. In close cooperation with the Joint UN/AU and Qatari Mediation the parties(LJM/A and GOS) have negotiated since June, and only last week they publicly issued a precise timetable showing their activities up to the 19th of December 2010 as maximum date for signing the Doha Peace Agreement. The parties achieved a lot in the five commissions (wealth, power, justice and reconciliation, compensation and returning of the IDPs& refuges, and security agreements). The LJM/A position was supported by the real stakeholders in the conflict, IDPs and refugees, Diaspora, and civil societies, who gathered in Doha with assistance from the joint Mediation and UNAMID. The final session was famous when the Civil Society representatives, in the presence of the hosting country’s senior officials, five permanent UN Security Council Members, and other international community representatives, urged LJM/A to accelerate their efforts and called on the Government to provide Darfur with a Vice President, sufficient compensation, and the re-grouping of the three states into one united region. They called on Mediation to arrange a meeting with Sudanese President Al Bashir. They also called Khalil and Wahid to join the talks if they claim to be fighting for people of Darfur. (“we will not go to Libya or France let them came to Doha if they are serious,” a women from Kalma IDP camp concluded). They praised LJM/A and asked to go as far as possible to reach peace in Doha.
The parties achieved a lot but still one main issuers remain un-settled ;the question of the status of Darfur region.LJM/A repeatedly stated its strong position of creating a region which will have powers and competences of implementing the agreement to be reached here in Doha. The task of the region include but not limited to; securing and creating a conducive environment for the return of the IDPs&refuhges and other war affected people of Darfur, rehabilitation ,reconstruction and development of the region by proper utilizing of the funds.
But we are very kun at the same time to retain the states with their full powers and competences and work hand in hand with the 3 states for the welfare of Darfur people. Some opponents of the region spreading many rum ours but LJM/A position is clear and no contradiction between the region and the states. We do not wish to take any powers or competencies away from the states. Rather we intend for the states to retain their power. The region is to be the supreme body to coordinate and execute policies of common interest to the three states. Also, there are fears and accusation that the formation of a region would be a step towards the self-determination of the Darfur region. This is not correct. On the contrary, by rejecting any regional power for Darfur, the Darfur people will be forced to look for alternative ways for minimizing their marginalization and frustration with the central government. Those in the center are no more Sudanese than the people of Darfur.
The southern asked for semi autonomy in 1950s -1960s but the north arrogantly rejected that popular demand accusing them as separatist. After long fight and cost of huge human and material resources the North is paying the price of the grave mistakes of the ancestors. They are now granted Self-determination which will lead eventually to creation of the Africa and the word s most youngest state. People should learn from their and history of others and avoid repeating their mistakes.
LJM/A remains committed to the unity of Sudan but ready to respect the choice of our brothers in South Sudan. It firmly behind the political settlement as the best option for putting an end to all the misery of Darfur ,South Sudan and Sudan. LJM/A is for compehensive,inclusive and root cause addressed agreement. The agreement should address and reflect the rights, aspirations and hopes of the people of Darfur and Sudan .Among many issues expected is the region. It is impossible to reach any agreement without any kind of region in Darfur.
Tadjadine Bechir Niam
Researcher in International Affairs Diplomacy as well as the Chief Negotiator for LJM/A
Doha 6rd Dec,2010
The author can be reached at :[email protected]