Home | News    Friday 1 August 2003 (Date first published: 1 August 2003).

Ruling party official comments on "dangers" of peace document


Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspape (London)

August 1, 2003

The secretary-general of Sudan’s ruling National Congress party has weighed up the dangers involved in a controversial negotiation document regarding a political solution in Sudan. The Inter- Governmental Authority on Development "IGAD", which sponsors the talks between the two parties to the conflict, submitted the document as a foundation for the negotiations.

In an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Ibrahim Ahmad Umar said the document, which Khartoum turned down, contradicts the Machakos Protocol and paves the way for the secession of southern Sudan, not the unity of the Sudanese territories. He said the Sudanese government refused this memorandum altogether and informed the IGAD Secretariat, the United States, and Britain of its position.

Ibrahim Ahmad Umar said this memorandum was drawn up under ambiguous circumstances that addressed the three major issues on the agenda of the negotiations in one document. These issues that pertain to power sharing, resources, and security arrangements used to be handled separately.

The National Congress party secretary-general weighed up the dangers of power sharing. He said the memorandum proposed that John Garang, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM] becomes the sole vice-president of the republic. The memorandum, he said, gave Garang authority to choose the rulers of the 10 southern provinces more than the powers accorded to the Sudanese president.

Ibrahim Ahmad Umar said the memorandum gave Garang’s movement total domination over the south and denied other southern forces the chance to participate in ruling the south. The document, he said, offered Garang’s movement the lion’s share in the federal authority’s posts, which were allocated for the south. It also gave him a majority of seats in the federal parliament.

Concerning the sharing of resources, Ibrahim Ahmad Umar said the memorandum granted the south 48 per cent of the oil revenues in addition to a fund of 35bn dollars from the state budget for reconstruction. He said this is unfair for the northern provinces particularly regarding the remaining oil revenues and the state budget in which the southern provinces have a share equal to the northern provinces.

The secretary-general of the Sudanese National Congress party said the most dangerous thing in the memorandum is the security arrangements that call for two armies. The first, he said, is the armed people’s forces or the current Sudanese army and the second is the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which is John Garang’s army. The memorandum, he added, appoints a defence minister in the southern government and a chief of staff, who is Garang. It designates a president, a supreme army commander, a vice-president, and a supreme army commander, who is also Garang. This, he said, is an extremely dangerous and bizarre situation.

Ibrahim Ahmad Umar said in brief the memorandum is unsuitable to become the core of discussion since it offers the south to the rebel movement. He criticized the contradictory positions of the IGAD Secretariat regarding this memorandum and said: "There is ambiguity concerning this document and those who drew it up. However, US envoy John Danforth admitted the injustice of this memorandum."

Concerning a role distribution between the IGAD Secretariat and IGAD partners, the Sudanese National Congress party secretary- general said he did not rule out a role distribution among these parties particularly that the United States and Britain provided financial, arms, and political support for Garang’s movement in the past. He did not rule out coordination between the IGAD Secretariat and IGAD partners in drawing up this memorandum. However, he said, Sudan is basically interested in the fact that the United States, the major IGAD partner, admitted the unfairness of the proposals included in the memorandum.

The secretary-general of the ruling Sudanese National Congress party denied the Sudanese government agreed to discuss this document. He said the government sent a memorandum to the IGAD Secretariat informing it of its rejection of the IGAD Secretariat proposals.

Meanwhile, he said, the US envoy’s recent visit to Khartoum was not aimed at discussing the memorandum but at listening to the stance of the Sudanese government regarding the document. The US envoy, he said, underlined two issues. First, the US administration was serious about giving momentum to the peace process in Sudan and second, the contents of the IGAD Secretariat memorandum were not final.

Ibrahim Ahmad Umar criticized the Sudanese government’s decision to release the Russian helicopter and its crew. The helicopter penetrated the Sudanese airspace and flew over the region of Darfur, which is considered a military zone. He said the Sudanese government and the security services should have disclosed the details of the incident to the public particularly that the justifications that were provided were not convincing. He said: "How does a helicopter that operates in the field of humanitarian relief in Congo fly all this distance and penetrate the airspace of central Africa and the Sudan’s Darfur region?"

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
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