Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 7 December 2003

Sudan?A Model!


Abdullah Iskandar, Al-Hayat

LONDON, Dec. 07, 2003 — Sudan is bracing itself for a new stage, which could be unprecedented in its history as an independent country, especially if the Sudanese parties succeed in the six-year transitional period. This stage is supposed to start once the comprehensive peace agreement is signed between the government and the people’s movement at the end of this year or early next year.

So far, all signs indicate that this stage could be a positive trial for the south, which is the country’s hotbed of violence, to become a main element in forming a plural unity, rather than secession, through the suggested process of self-determination at the end of the transitional stage.

The agreements and understandings between the government and the people’s movement, and those it ratified with other parties, not to mention the agreements between parties, are an old phenomenon in Sudan’s political life. But the challenge of separation which the Machakos Protocol holds as an option, gives these agreements a new content that overcomes the traditional gambits for the sake of improving the opportunities of holding on to the authority or getting closer to it.

For many reasons: southern and northern, political, ideological, and economical, external, regional, and international factors, the separation would not be the best choice for the Sudanese, in the north as well as in the south.

It is believed that all parties, especially in the north, will try to make of the transitional phase trial the motive to persuade the south of the option of unity.

The government from one side and the people’s movement on the other side are seeking to maneuver and attract allies, for the sake of improving the conditions of negotiations over the wealth and power in the country. This is legitimate in any negotiations. But both sides know that they gave reached a point of no return in the agreement, according to which they will be in power together.

The actual round of negotiations, which is expected to be the last one, is taking place in Kenya. But the presence of the people’s movement delegation in Khartoum is a great symbolic event which means that Karnak has become a factor, which importance will increase once the agreement is signed, in the northern political scene, and will not be just part of the authority.

With the Jeddah agreement, which was signed a few days ago with the federal party and which calls for a plural government during the transitional phase, which was the demand of the national party, the new reconciliation in the country becomes complete. Practically speaking, it includes all the country’s political forces except for the Islamists’ wing of Dr. Hasan Turabi, even though the latter supported the agreement with the national movement. Turabi will remain outside the authority because of his conflict with other Islamists which will participate in the government, and not because of any problem with other parties.

All this means that the Sudanese parties are becoming more and more convinced of the need for coexistence, without it necessarily being integration, between the various political groups, sects, social roots and religious faiths and languages. This option of coexistence is the only alternative to war, which has made Sudan an example of, in what it carries as far as losses, tragedies and victims.

For these reasons, it is hoped that the transitional stage will establish the grounds for a future and new Sudan. This stage will be managed by a civilian national government, with the participation of parties on a plural basis, with the canceling of emergency laws and restraining the role of security forces.

This all is not related to the wishes of the parties, but are rather imposed by the new equation in the country. This new balance of forces, which will be established by recognizing the other and coexisting with him, will force each party to give the other what it deserves and what it held its weapons to defend.

The success of the Sudanese experience might come to represent a model capable of being exported to many Arab countries that are still looking for the core of their unity and its meaning.

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