Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 30 September 2003

Sudan Peace Deal Could End Kony War

By Kintu Nyago, The Monitor (Kampala)

KAMPALA, September 30 — As Ugandans contemplate how to durably resolve the criminal LRA’s insurgency in northern Uganda, good news pointing bound to assist this outcome emerged last week from Naivasha, Kenya.

It was about the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A agreeing on their common security arrangements for a 6-year interim period.

An understanding brought about through high level political commitment illustrated by the last three weeks face-to-face negotiations between the Sudanese 1st Vice President, Ali Osman Taha, and SPLM/A leader, Col. John Garang. This effort was facilitated by Kenya’s Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, who has been mediating both sides for the last 18 months.

After concluding this deal the elated Garang stated: "We will go into this agreement with resolve, energy and focus so that we resolve the remaining issues". He further commented that "With this agreement, the direction and orientation for peace in Sudan is irreversible".

Although such optimism is welcome, these are still early times. For only the security question seems to have been agreed upon and yet the Sudanese conflict, the longest in the contemporary world, dating back to the late 1950’s to date, has complex causes.

Negative colonial practices and the deliberate underdevelopment of South Sudan reinforced racial and religious prejudice between its Arab and African communities.

A situation in contemporary times further exaggerated by the emergence of the Hassan Al Tourabi and General Omar Bashir led intolerant Islamic Brotherhood into power.

This all resulted into Sudan’s current tensions and conflict, and the laying into waste of South Sudan, leaving two million people dead and four million forced to either internal displacement or refugee status.

For durable peace to emerge in Sudan there is need to critically learn from its history, especially from the experience of the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Accord, whose details are contained in a book "Peace and Unity in the Sudan" written by Dr. Francis Deng and leftist intellectuals at University of Khartoum and Sudan’s Foreign Ministry.

This peace deal was initiated by the young, progressive Gen. Jafaar Niemeri who seized power in 1969 and started dialogue with Joseph Lagu’s Anya’ Nya, culminating into the 1972 Addis Ababa Accord.

It was then hailed as an illustration of "... the workability of the Afro-Arab synthesis"!

Unfortunately, this truce lasted only 10 years, until 1983 when the SPLM/A was formed and took to arms under Col. Garang. A main cause of resuming war was that while the Addis accord laid the foundation for democratizing southern Sudan, no such arrangement was instituted for the dominant Arab northern Sudan. Hence the re-emergence of the old racial and religious prejudices within the Arab ruling elite.

It was also fuelled by tensions arising from the discovery of oil reserves in the South whose $ 1 billion proceeds are monopolised by Khartoum! This time round, sustainable peace would demand for the democratization of the whole of Sudan as a starting point and its equitable sharing of wealth.

The Sudanese conflict has always had a direct bearing to Uganda’s stability. To start with, we share a common people, as for example the Kakwa and Acholi communities. Hence Ugandans have usually identified with South Sudan’s cause.

This explains Obote and his army commander Gen. Amin’s support to the Anya’ Nya’s rebellion in the 1960’s. In fact, a main contributing factor of 1971 coup was the disagreement between Obote and Amin on the continuation of supporting these Sudanese rebels after Niemeri’s 1969 coup.

After the 1972 Addis Accord Amin integrated quite a few former Anya’ Nya into his armed forces. In 1985, a consignment of arms that the collapsing Obote II regime intended for the SPLA was mistakenly dropped in an area under the command of Gen. Bazilio Okello. Weapons that were later used to topple Obote’s regime.

Since 1986 Sudan has propped various rebel groups that have over the years militarily challenged Museveni’s NRM government. Kony’s capacity to wreck havoc and terror in northern Uganda was largely enhanced by Sudan.

A peaceful Sudan with a friendly state that effectively controls its vast territory would go a long way in ensuring that the LRA’s insurrection in Northern Uganda ends.

For this to occur, however, requires that concerned Sudanese genuinely negotiate a democratic, tolerant and economically equitable solution for all their people and regions a big challenge for Gen. Bashir’s conservative Islamic Brotherhood.