Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 1 November 2007

The cost of forgetting South Sudan is Darfur


Is Sudan a patches of Peace Agreements?

By Mehari Taddele Maru

October 31, 2007 — Currently, Sudan seems a patch of several “PAs”—Peace Agreements. The CPA—Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Southern Sudan was signed in 2005 by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), “infamous” DPA—the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) of May 2006 for South Western Sudan, EPA for eastern Sudan. In north east, the Beja people of Sudan are requesting the Sudan Government for some sort of agreement and particularly for the investigation of the Human Rights violations involvement in the mining areas. In short the existing constitution in Sudan is significantly dismantled (or amended) by the proliferation of “PAs”. Sudan seems a coming-together of its regions by agreement with the Government in Khartoum. Searching peace from regional pieces might be useful in the absence of any other less radical option. Nonetheless, the interest of durable peace in Sudan may not be fulfilled through fragmented and regionalized peace initiatives that lead to “PAs”. These agreements with regional rebel and social movements are the main impediment for durable peace in the Sudan. The thinking of the Government of Sudan that negotiates only with the armed rebel groups not the peaceful protestors indeed encouraged and continues to encourage people with grievances to arm themselves. It seems that government is rather responsive to people with guns. “Government of Sudan”, said a Darfuri NGO leader, “listens only to gun carriers and once a group is aware of its rights and the injustices done on its members, it immediately carries gun to be listened by the government”. In Sudan, gun seems the “loud and effective microphone” to be heard.

Under the CPA, Southern Sudan is granted autonomy with a right to self-determination. Elect several elections are expected to be conducted in the next three years, including a referendum to be held in 2011. CPA has a provision that allows revision of the election time. But revision seems far a way option now. The same agreement provided an equal share of the oil revenue between the Government in Khartoum and the Government of Southern Sudan. This agreement on revenue sharing is not implemented within the time framework in accordance with the term of the agreement. The Government of Southern Sudan is facing shortage of money even to pay its civil servants. The CPA encouraged the Darfuri and is encouraging the remaining Sudanese such as the Bejas to claim equal autonomy and serious attendance to their region by the government in Khartoum. The Darfur crisis started as a struggle for decentralization and autonomy equal to the one granted to Southern Sudan. That is the reason why the effective implementation of the CPA for Southern Sudan will determine whether the situation in Darfur will improve.

At present, both parties to the CPA (the Southern Sudan Government and the government in Khartoum) are violating this agreement. Massive population displacement and transfer are being conducted by both the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan to influence the election in their favor. The recent repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons from neighbouring countries including Ethiopia and northern parts of the Sudan violates the UNHCR guidelines for safe and dignified return of refugees. Repatriation plans lack serious consideration of the security of, and opportunity for, the returnees to Southern Sudan. In effect, both parties to the CPA employ population transfer as a means for political gain in their respective areas of control. The revenue sharing arrangement is in total disaster either due to failure of the Government of Sudan to keep its promise or the very promise for equal share of revenue was not realistic in terms of amount. Partnership between the government of Southern Sudan and the government in Khartoum is on the brink of collapse.

While Darfur is in focus, Southern Sudan is slipping into crisis. The Darfur situation will improve only if Southern Sudan is not forgotten by the international community. Efforts focusing solely on Darfur will not solve the problem there. The fates of Darfur, Southern Sudan and even Sudan as a whole are intertwined. Even if several factors contribute to the Darfur crisis, the single most important direct cause of the debacle is the civil war in Southern Sudan. Darfur is a symptom, not the disease in Sudan. The disease is widespread injustice and human rights violations committed by the Government of Sudan, some of the rebel groups and Janjeewds. Hence, the current trend of the international community to draw attention to ending the Darfur crisis separately while failing to ensure implementation of CPA and problems in the SPLM governed Southern Sudan is inevitably futile.

The reason for such disproportionate attention by the international community to the crisis in Darfur is clearly understandable but could be short-sighted in terms of long terms strategy in solving the crisis. True, Darfur is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time in Africa. The international community has failed to prevent the death of more than 300,000 and the forced displacement of 2.6 million Darfurians. Chad is on the verge of civil war partly due to spill over effect of the Darfur crisis. However, the implication of forgetting Southern Sudan should be clear. If the situation of Southern Sudan is not attended to soon, Southern Sudan could break into a civil war with more appalling humanitarian consequences. Part of the efforts of successful political process to end the crisis in Darfur should include ensuring that the cause of Southern Sudan is observed.

Unless the international community ensures that Southern Sudan is a success and the CPA is implemented seriously, future agreements to solve Darfur crisis and other are render meaningless. If the CPA is lost, the Government of Khartoum will gain significantly and the country may slide to civil war with Southern Sudan. This time it may take a form of election related and border dispute between Governments in Khartoum and Juba. The fear is that while the international community is focusing on Darfur, Southern Sudan may head to disaster. The international community need to attend to the cause of Southern Sudan as key to addressing the crisis in Darfur. It has to exert all its efforts to overhaul Sudan as whole by engaging the whole people of Sudan.

The Southern Sudan crisis was the first test to the future of Sudan. Darfur is nothing but additional test. The future of Sudan depends how much bold, courageous and farsighted move the government of Sudan could make to create a common fair space for all Sudanese. Equally important is the need for farsighted leadership of Darfuri and Southern Sudanese. Currently, a better farsightedness is only shown by the Darfur and other Sudanese civil society, particularly NGOs within Southern Sudan, Darfur and press outlets such as the Sudan Tribune and majority of Sudanese in Diaspora. The rebel groups particularly the political leadership and commanders failed to manifestly reflect the farsightedness of the Darfuri people. Of course history has shown that the many African governments and rebel groups learn the hardest way when they face not only clear but also present danger.

*The writer has served as Legal Expert at African Union Commission. He was also the Director for University Reform at Addis Ababa University. He holds MPA from Harvard University, M.Sc from University of Oxford and LLB from Addis Ababa University and was a fellow of Ethno-political Conflict Studies at University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at mehari_maru@ksg07.harvard.edu

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  • 1 November 2007 20:52, by Amanda

    I am writing on behalf of a dear friend and classmate, Gabriel Kou
    Solomon, a South Sudan expatriate, whose two nieces were abducted by Murle
    gunmen on October 3. In response, we are taking a variety of urgent actions
    to facilitate the peaceful release of these girls and any other abducted
    children. As many will already know, child abduction is a rampant problem
    in South Sudan and needs to be addressed immediately.

    Join Us!
    For more information on the efforts of this campaign and how to get involved, please visit www.save-yar.org. In addition, please take a moment to sign our online petition which will be delivered to South Sudan and Jonglei State officials. www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-yar

    Can we help you?

    We are attempting to generate a list with the names of children who have been abducted in this region by the Murle. If you know of any such abductions, please contact us with any information you have including the names, ages, county and dates on which they were abducted. We will use this information to appeal on their behalf to the South Sudanese government as well as to supporters in the U.S. government. Please contact Mahima at achut002@umn.edu with any information you have. Let’s take action to end child abductions in South Sudan!

    Please contact Amanda at lyon0061@umn.edu with any questions about the campaign.

    Thank you for helping to disseminate this important appeal.

    repondre message

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