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The African Union continues to betray Darfur


By Eric Reeves

At the moment in which the Darfur genocide has entered it final phase—as Khartoum uses the completion of its “disarmament” campaign as an excuse to accelerate pressure on displaced persons to leave camps threatened with dismantling—the African Union has chosen to resume diplomatic activities on the Darfur file by threatening sanctions against hold-out rebel groups and continuing to push the failed Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) (July 2011). There could be no more misguided effort. With it, the African Union is now complicit in forcing defenceless, displaced civilians into areas of intolerable insecurity where their farming livelihoods have been destroyed.

Instead of pressing Khartoum on the critical issues of increasing regional security in the Darfur states and augmenting humanitarian access—which is beginning to wither following the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions on Khartoum—the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) is attempting to flog yet again the diplomatic dead letter that is the DDPD—signed by Khartoum and a meaningless “rebel coalition” seven years ago. The “coalition” (given the expedient name of the Liberation and Justice Movement, LJM) was made up of disaffected and ineffectual rebel fragments with no popular support or military power on the ground; it was cobbled together by U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Scott Gration and Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

The DDPD has been rejected fully by Darfuri civil society, which had no meaningful voice in its negotiation. Indeed, the DDPD—reflecting Qatar-led efforts and supported not only by the grossly ignorant and inexperienced U.S. Envoy Gration but the African Union’s top envoy Thabo Mbeki—had no meaningful solutions to any of the most pressing problems facing Darfur, including most consequentially restitution and the restoring of lands violently expropriated from non-Arab/African farmers by armed Arab militia groups.

What terms there were in the DDPD were observed by Khartoum only insofar as the regime benefitted; and of course “negotiation” of the DDPD allowed Khartoum to fend off any subsequent diplomatic efforts. The regime has cleaved steadily and fiercely to the DDPD for good reason and blunted any and all subsequent initiatives.

It is worth noting that the African Union had earlier weighed in with a proposal for peace in Darfur, Thabo Mbeki’s “Roadmap for Peace in Darfur” (2009). Mbeki, who led what was then the “African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur,” made absolutely no progress, thus creating the opening for the disastrous Qatari intervention. It is also worth noting that the Mbeki Panel was re-named the “African Union High-Level Implementation Panel”—“implementation” referring to the Mbeki’s so-called and utterly unsupported “Roadmap.”

In the intervening nine years, Mbeki and his “High-Level Implementation Panel” have not a single diplomatic success to their credit. Leaving aside failure to bring about an end to hostilities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile—or to negotiate a lifting of Khartoum’s barbarous humanitarian blockade on hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in these troubled regions—Mbeki and his panel have done nothing to diminish violence in Darfur or to increase security or to improve humanitarian access. They have put forward no peace proposal that enjoys the support of Darfuri civil society, and have by default remained committed to the DDPD. This shows an utter lack of diplomatic initiative and an abject capitulation before Khartoum’s obduracy and determination to complete the Darfur genocide on its terms.

Moreover, one notable development in recent months, confirmed by several sources, is the gradual decline in humanitarian access throughout Darfur, an issue the African Union has never taken seriously and ignores in its threats to impose sanctions on non-signatory rebel groups with no corresponding threats against Khartoum’s génocidaires (see Sudan Tribune at | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64828 ). Indeed, the African Union, particularly by way of UNAMID leadership, had been complicit in obscuring the scale of humanitarian need in Darfur. See |

“UN and African Union Complicity in Obscuring Darfur’s Realities: A long and disgraceful pattern of behaviour, February 21, 2018, | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2dO

Various sources, who of necessity must remain confidential, have pointed to increasing difficulties in providing relief services to Darfuris, particularly in North Darfur. Moreover, we must wonder why the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has not mounted an assessment mission to Central Darfur, where a serious re-emergence of cholera is affecting a number of villages in the Nierteti area. Tragically, it is patently clear from WHO’s refusal to confirm—or disconfirm—the existence of cholera in Sudan, despite highly reliable tests that have been positive for cholera, conducted by independent laboratories meeting WHO clinical standards, that the organization has been intimidated into silence by the Khartoum regime. On the issue, as on so many others, the African Union has been silent—disgracefully silent.

True peace will come to Darfur only when there is a government in Khartoum that is willing to respond with justice and commitment to the terrible realities of destruction, suffering, and displacement that have unfolded in Darfur over the past fifteen years. The current regime is the very opposite of such a diplomatic interlocutor. Civil society unrest and demonstrations throughout Sudan make clear that the nation has lost all faith in the brutal, rapacious National Islamic Front/National Congress Party kleptocracy. That the African Union should effectively throw this regime a diplomatic life-line at the present moment by failing to focus diplomatic pressure in appropriate ways is a sign of deep corruption.

Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights. He can be reached through Twitter@SudanReeves,

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