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Sudan: Peace Process Moves Ahead
Africa Policy E-Journal
October 8, 2003 (031008)
Sudan: Peace Process Moves Ahead
(Reposted from sources cited below)
This posting contains two items on the recent breakthrough in
peace talks to end the war in Sudan: a short update from the UN's
Integrated Regional Information Networks, and a longer analytical
briefing from the Sudan Focal Point.
Sudan Focal Point is provided by the Southern African Catholic
Bishops' Conference (for further information contact John Ashworth,
Coordinator, Sudan Focal Point, SACBC, P.O. Box 941, Pretoria 0001,
South Africa; Tel: ++27-(0)12-323-6458; E-mail: email@example.com
Sudan Focal Point is also regularly posted on the web by Africa
Files, based in Toronto [http://www.africafiles.org]. The full text
of the most recent agreement is also available on the Africa Files
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
SUDAN: Breakthrough security agreement signed
September 25, 2003
NAIVASHA, 25 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - A key stumbling block in Sudanese
peace negotiations was overcome on Thursday with the signing of a
security agreement between the government of Sudan and the rebel
Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Naivasha,
Under the deal, Sudan will have two separate armed forces as well
as integrated units and an internationally monitored ceasefire
agreement once a final deal has been signed.
The breakthrough, achieved after three weeks of unprecedented talks
between SPLA leader John Garang and Sudanese Vice-President Ali
Osman Taha, has raised hopes on all sides for a final peace
"Your persistence in the matter...was a clear demonstration that
you have both decided to put the interests of your country, the
Sudan, before your own interests and that you are determined to
realise a just and durable peace," Kenyan mediator Lazarus
Sumbeiywo told the sides at the signing ceremony.
"We are now sure that you will bring to a close the remaining
issues of power sharing, wealth sharing and [the] conflict areas
[Southern Blue Nile, Abyei and the Nuba mountains]," he added.
Garang told reporters he had spoken to Sudanese President Omar
al-Bashir on Wednesday night and they had congratulated each other
on the step taken towards a "just and fair settlement".
"With this agreement, the direction and orientation for peace in
Sudan is irreversible," he said. The parties would return to the
negotiating table immediately to resolve the remaining issues with
the same "commitment and resolve".
"We will not lose momentum," he stressed.
Garang added that this deal, unlike others, would be binding
because guarantees had been built into it. The SPLA had been
allowed to keep its own army, and "neither of the parties will have
the capacity to break it", he said. "The Sudanese people will not
allow it to be tampered with."
Speaking of a final peace settlement, Sayeed El-Khativ, the chief
negotiator for the Sudanese government said: "Nothing is going to
be beyond our attainment - we are going to achieve this."
Domenico Polloni, deputy head of mission at the Italian Embassy in
Nairobi and one of the observers to the talks, said it was the
first "substantive agreement" between the two sides since the
Machakos agreement was signed in July 2002. "It's really a big
breakthrough," he said.
Sudan Focal Point Monthly Briefing
[published October 1, 2003]
The Peace Process
After negotiations between Dr John Garang and the First Vice
President, Ali Osman Taha, in Naivasha, Kenya, the Government of
Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army
(SPLM/A) have signed an agreement on one of the most contentious
issues, security arrangements during the Interim Period . This
marks an important step forward in the peace process and is an
indication that a peace deal will be reached in the coming months,
although probably not before the end of the year. Dr John told
supporters in Rumbek, "The road to peace is irreversible." It is
significant that two such senior figures entered the negotiations,
as many have felt that the two delegations were unable to make
decisions without referring back to their leaders. Talks are
expected to resume in October.
It would be churlish indeed not to recognise the achievement of the
parties and the mediators in finding an acceptable compromise on
the thorny issue of security arrangements. There is no doubt that
this is a positive development. However there is still need for
caution, as pitfalls abound at various levels. Dr John Garang
himself, while calling the agreement "a major step to peace,"
cautioned that there were still "many issues" to be resolved.
Firstly, the agreement itself must be analysed. The parties had
held diametrically opposed positions, with GoS demanding a single
integrated army while SPLM/A demanded two separate armies. The
compromise allows both. There will be two separate armies in north
and south during the Interim Period, made up of the current Sudan
Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLA respectively. However there will also
be "Joint/Integrated Units" (JIU) made up of equal numbers of SAF
and SPLA, which will serve as a symbol of unity and sovereignty
during the Interim Period, and as the nucleus of a future armed
force if the result of the self-determination exercise at the end
of the Interim Period should be unity. Apart from the JIU, SAF will
withdraw from south of the 1956 colonial boundaries and SPLA will
withdraw from the Nuba Mountains, the Funj Region (also known as
southern Blue Nile) and the eastern front. The JIU will have
24,000 troops in southern Sudan, 6,000 in the Nuba Mountains, 6,000
in the Funj Region and 3,000 in Khartoum, with the parties still to
discuss deployment of JIU on the eastern front. Two and a half
years is allowed for redeployment of forces, with international
monitoring and assistance. A "Joint Defence Board" will be
established "under the Presidency" (it is to be hoped that this
refers to the collegiate presidency envisaged in the Nakuru draft
document, and not to the person of the northern president) to
coordinate the two separate armed forces and to command the JIU.
The parties agreed to reduce the size of the forces on both sides,
"at a suitable time following the completion of the comprehensive
ceasefire arrangements", a ceasefire which will be internationally
monitored. "No armed group allied to either party shall be allowed
to operate outside the two forces," and there is provision for
demobilised southerners to be absorbed into institutions of the
Government of Southern Sudan, including the army, civil service,
police, prisons and wildlife services.
Broadly this agreement is a good compromise for both the parties.
GoS gets its symbol of unity, is allowed to maintain some forces in
the south as part of the JIU, and gets the SPLA out of northern
Sudan as an independent entity. SPLA keeps itself basically intact,
and gets rid of independent GoS forces from the south, thus
maintaining its military leverage to help guarantee that GoS will
not renege on the agreement. However there are also significant
losers. Even though there will still be SPLA forces present as part
of the JIU, the people of the Nuba Mountains and the Funj Region
have suffered yet another blow to their hopes of being connected
with the south rather than the north in a final peace deal. A
second group of losers are the non-SPLM/A southern factions. There
is no place for them in this agreement, except to disband and be
absorbed by the SPLM/A, into the police, prisons and wildlife
services - echoes of 1972. A third group are the northern armed
opposition forces within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
They have very little military capacity of their own so the
withdrawal of SPLA forces from the eastern front leaves them with
little leverage in their own conflict with the ruling regime.
Once again we are reminded that the Inter-Governmental Authority on
Development (IGAD) talks are between only two of the warring
parties in Sudan. What is good for those two parties is not
necessarily good for all the parties, factions and people of Sudan.
Already some opposition parties in Khartoum have given the deal a
lukewarm welcome, predicting it will fail in the long-term because
it lacks widespread support. Again, IGAD addresses only one of the
conflicts within Sudan (the "southern problem"), but does not
address the issues of the people of east or west Sudan, nor does it
address the fundamental problem of most northern Sudanese, who live
under an oppressive military dictatorship which enforces a
particular interpretation of Islam not shared by the majority of
Sudanese Muslims. Unless a way is found of addressing all these
issues, whether inside or outside IGAD, there will be no
sustainable peace in Sudan.
Secondly, an agreement is in itself worthless unless it is
implemented. Southerners are deeply suspicious of any northern
government as a result of their bitter experience of agreements
dishonoured since 1947. International involvement in the
redeployment of forces and monitoring of the ceasefire is very
welcome, but international forces must be deployed more quickly,
with greater resources and with greater effectiveness than the
current international monitoring bodies, whose performance has been
Thirdly, an agreement on security issues does not automatically
mean that the peace process as a whole will be successful. There
remain significant obstacles. Power-sharing, wealth-sharing and the
status of the marginalised areas are still contentious issues.
While the security agreement does give hope that the parties will
be able to reach compromises in these other areas, each compromise
which is acceptable to the two negotiating parties will raise a new
set of problems and may not be acceptable to other parties,
factions and communities within Sudan.
All of the above validates the ongoing concerns about transparency
and inclusivity which have often been expressed by Sudanese civil
society. Unless ownership of the process is broadened, the two
warring parties may make a deal which suits them but which does not
necessarily answer the needs of significant sections of the
population of Sudan and will not be sustainable. Human rights and
democracy must also be concretely addressed. "Any lasting peace
agreement in Sudan must provide meaningful guarantees for the
protection of the human rights of all segments of Sudanese society
including their rights to participate in post-conflict political
processes," according to Human Rights Watch.
Some argue that it is unrealistic to expect everything all at once.
They envisage a two-stage process whereby first a deal is reached
to stop the war, then other considerations (inclusivity, ownership,
human rights, democracy, justice, the root causes of the war, etc)
are addressed in the new climate of peace. But the two-stage
approach can only work if the first step, which stops the war, is
open-ended enough to lead to the second step. The mere absence of
war does not constitute peace if institutional violence continues.
The church in Sudan has played a leading role in civil society
activism, and has borne its fair share of victimisation from GoS
and misunderstandings with SPLM/A. Pope John Paul II has now
created Sudan’s first ever Cardinal , Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir
Wako of the Archdiocese of Khartoum. Only days earlier it was
announced that Dr Haruun Ruun, Executive Secretary of the New Sudan
Council of Churches, has been awarded his second prestigious
international peace prize, the Raoul Wallenberg Award. These
expressions of the global community’s solidarity with the voiceless
people of Sudan to whom the church gives voice - and hope - are
Southern Sudanese youth met in Karen, Kenya, in August. They
criticised elderly southern Sudanese politicians and blamed the
current south-south conflict on "old fashioned politicians who
divide the people along ethnic lines", but were positive about the
SPLM/A representatives at the peace talks. They discussed the
"House of Nationalities". This envisages a form of parliament
representing the different ethnic communities of southern Sudan,
with the aim of preserving diversity and unity within the south.
The concept has been floated for a couple of years but has not yet
found its way into mainstream discussions of the political future
of southern Sudan.
A 45-day ceasefire agreement which allows for "free and unimpeded"
humanitarian access was signed between GoS and the Sudan Liberation
Movement/Army (SLM/A) in Darfur at the beginning of September, but
there have been repeated reports of attacks by GoS and its allied
militia since then. Meanwhile the governor of West Darfur State,
Major General Suleiman Abdallah, admitted that a GoS warplane
killed 26 civilians in August after it mistakenly identified them
as rebel forces. Another 32 people were wounded in the attack.
UNHCR reports that up to 65,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad
to escape fighting in Darfur. Sudanese militia are reportedly
launching raids across the border into Chad.
Uganda has repeated allegations that GoS is still supporting the
Lord’s Resistance Army , despite denials from Khartoum. The Ugandan
army has said it is recruiting Karamajong warriors as a militia
force to fight the LRA. This represents a dangerous escalation of
the conflict. A Catholic priest was among 25 people killed in an
LRA ambush on the road between Soroti and Namasale.
The last of a group of more than 24,000 Sudanese refugees who were
displaced from Achol-Pii refugee settlement in August 2002
following a series of attacks by the LRA have now been relocated to
two new sites in Uganda's West Nile region. The relocation was
initially marred by violence.
GoS minister of external relations, Dr Mustafa Uthman Isma'il, said
in Cairo that it was possible to restore relations with Eritrea
only if Eritrea ceased interfering in the internal affairs of Sudan
and supporting and arming opposition groups. Meanwhile Eritrean
President Isayas Afewerki has accused Sudan of embracing "terrorist
Plans to relocate 24,500 Sudanese refugees from Fugnido in Gambella
Region, western Ethiopia, where ethnic clashes killed some 100
people a few months ago, have been abandoned following serious
flooding at the new site at Odier. However, an alternative site is
being sought and the relocation should be done by the end of the
year, according to UNHCR.
Despite the current cessation of hostilities, the UN Operation
Lifeline Sudan (OLS) still rated around 40 locations "red no go"
Average rates of malnutrition in southern Sudan have been steadily
worsening since 2001, according to UNICEF.
Only 34% of the UN's proposed US$ 262.9 million 2003 emergency
appeal has so far been funded. "There is no time for complacency,"
said Kofi Annan in his latest report to the UN General Assembly on
humanitarian assistance to Sudan. "The humanitarian imperative to
save lives and reduce human suffering cannot await the completion
of the peace process." The UN has prepared a new US$ 142.3 million
package of quick-start programmes to bolster confidence and provide
tangible peace dividends if peace comes. The Quick Start Peace
Impact Programme has been developed in consultation with both
parties and has been presented to donors, but has been criticised
for its lack of engagement with other Sudanese stakeholders.
The international community's focus on terrorism has led donors to
lavish aid on countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, while
neglecting the plight of civilians caught up in less strategic
conflicts such as Sudan, Liberia and Burundi, according to a report
Human rights abuses have continued unabated in GoS-controlled areas
of Sudan, with the closure of newspapers, harassment and
intimidation of churches, arbitrary arrest, and torture.
At the end of September GoS security services arrested retired
senior police officer and deputy leader of the Beja Congress,
General Osman Ahmed Fegerai, on undeclared charges and removed him
to a secret location, according to the group's political
coordinator Salih Mohamed Hassaballah.
The US Embassy in Khartoum criticised GoS for failing to lift press
restrictions despite pledges to do so, drawing attention to the
continued closure and suspension of several papers, including the
Khartoum Monitor and Alwan . At the end of September Al-Sahafa
was suspended for allegedly promoting alcohol (in an Ethiopian
Airlines advertisement carried by the paper) while Al-Azminah was
suspended for publishing a report on the Popular Defence Forces .
According to UNICEF, Health Minister Ahmed Osman Bilal has
committed GoS to eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM) at all
levels. Sudan has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world,
predominantly in northern Sudan. The UN Resident and Humanitarian
Coordinator for Sudan , Mukesh Kapila, said FGM was "a clear
indicator of Sudanese society's broad condoning of gender
inequality, violence against women and children, and the violation
of women's reproductive and health rights, as well as children's
The US "War on Terrorism"
In August Sudanese officials released sketchy details of a
terrorism case. A Sudanese court said it had convicted a Syrian of
holding classes in Sudan to train Saudis and Palestinians to carry
out attacks against US forces in Iraq, and had convicted two
Sudanese of helping the Syrian and of providing information to help
others plan attacks on government and Jewish targets in Eritrea.
Following the security agreement within the IGAD framework, GoS
Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail announced that the USA had agreed
to lift its sanctions on Sudan and remove the country from its list
of nations sponsoring terrorism. The time-frame was not mentioned.
Uganda has offered the old Entebbe Airport to be used as a regional
military base for the USA, according to Ugandan security sources.
Date distributed (ymd): 031008
Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace
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