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Sudan: Peacekeeping without Peace?

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Oct 24, 2004 (041024)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Last week's decision to expand the contingent of Africa Union peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region to more than 3,000 is the most substantial step yet towards an international presence that could deter continuing violence against civilians by government-sponsored militia. This measure is seen by almost all commentators as a necessary if not sufficient response to the crisis. Like the increased international humanitarian aid that has arrived in Darfur in recent months, however, it is unlikely to have more than a modest impact without simultaneous new advances on stalled peace negotiations.

Talks on Darfur under the auspices of the African Union resumed in Abuja, Nigeria this weekend. Negotiators from the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) met earlier this month in Naivasha, Kenya, but no new progress was reported, on finalizing the agreement between the two. Most observers believe that the Sudanese government is stalling on both sets of talks, calculating that the international community will tire of the issue instead of escalating pressure. Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson noted that cease-fire violations in Darfur increased in September and early October.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains several recent short updates and commentaries on current developments in the conflicts in Sudan. Also of related interest is a commentary by Mahmood Mamdani in the Oct 7 issue of Pambazuka News (see, which includes a strong denunciation of simplistic accounts of the Darfur conflict as "Arab vs. African."

Additional commentaries and updates can be found at the Sudan Tribune website at For earlier issues of AfricaFocus Bulletin on Sudan, see

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

African Union to send more peacekeepers to Darfur

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

[This material comes from IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

Addis Ababa, 21 Oct 2004 (IRIN) - The African Union (AU) agreed on Wednesday to boost the number of peacekeepers in Sudan's troubled Darfur region and to send in a civilian police force, Said Djinnit, head of the AU's Peace and Security Council, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The deployment of the armed force, which would number 3,320, was expected in a matter of weeks, he said. The one-year mission, he added, would be made up of 2,241 troops, of whom 450 would be military observers and 815 civilian police. There would also be 164 support staff.

"Both the size and mandate of the mission have been strengthened to be able to better assist the parties honour their commitment and work together with renewed commitment and determination to achieve lasting peace in Darfur," Djinnit said. "We are talking about weeks to have the enhancement of people on the ground."

The AU appealed to its member states to provide "financial and logistical" support as well as troops and police for deployment in Darfur.

"The size of the mission is appropriate, given the level of where we are in the peace process, given the conditions in which we are operating, and given the mandate and task of the mission," Djinnit added.

The announcement by the AU came on the eve of the planned resumption of peace talks on Darfur in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Djinnit added that the Peace and Security Council had urged the warring factions at the peace talks to show "commitment and spirit of compromise" to end suffering.

The expanded force would be funded to the tune of US $220 million, mainly by the European Union peace fund and the United States. Currently some 300 Rwandan and Nigerian troops are in Darfur to protect 80 observers already on the ground.

Djinnit said the force would have three main functions - monitoring and observing, confidence building and contributing to a secure environment, ensuring aid can get through.

The 53-member African Union describes the new mission as a "peacekeeping operation". It is mandated to "protect civilians under imminent threat," although the protection of civilians is the primary responsibility of the government of Sudan.

Djinnit told reporters that the exact rules of engagement for the AU force had yet to be drawn up. The force would also investigate violations of the humanitarian ceasefire and provide a visible military presence to stop armed groups like the government-allied Janjawid militias from attacking civilians.

Jean Hilaire Mbeambea, whose country, Cameroon, currently holds the rotating chair of the 16-strong AU Peace and Security Council, said "mass suffering" was still taking place in the region. However, speaking after a daylong meeting at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, he stressed it was not genocide.

"Abuses are still taking place," Mbeambea said. "There is mass suffering, but it is not genocide."

The conflict in Darfur between the Sudanese military supported by Janjawid militias, and rebels fighting to end alleged marginalisation and discrimination of the region, has displaced about 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad. The UN has called the situation one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

In London on Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged support for AU efforts to bolster its monitoring and protection presence there. He called on all sides to respect the ceasefire and take measures to protect civilians, even before the arrival of AU troops.

Excerpt from Justice Africa Briefing

11 October 2004

Next Steps

37. Sudan needs a comprehensive political solution. The foundation for this should be Naivasha, which has the substance and political clout needed. The mechanism for this should be that the talks include moving to implementation without delay. Implementation should include detailed steps for a Constitutional Convention and the formal declaration of regional autonomy and power sharing for Darfur and Eastern Sudan, using as a model the agreements made for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. However, any political framework announced for Darfur should be the starting point for negotiations at Abuja, not regarded as a fait accompli.

38. As soon as the final protocol is signed, President Bashir should issue a Republican Decree that affirms the Naivasha agreements as part of Sudanese law, brings the power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security arrangements into immediate effect, and appoints John Garang as First Vice President.

39. Meanwhile, extensive preparation is needed for the next round in Abuja. The mediators need to do their own research and thinking to define what they mean by Janjawiid (or abandon any usage of the term) and what a credible process of providing security and ensuring disarmament would look like. The key issues needing immediate progress need to be fixed in advance by intensive shuttle diplomacy between the parties, leaving the Abuja meeting itself for the formalities of finalizing the humanitarian and security protocols, and beginning work on the social and political issues.

40. International calls for regime change are frankly irresponsible. If the government of Sudan is to change, it should do so through the democratic or peaceful efforts of the people of Sudan, not through external intervention. A foreign-led effort to remove the current GoS is far more likely to lead to chaos and intensified civil war, than to peace and democracy.

Sudan's Dual Crises: Refocusing on IGAD

International Crisis Group

Africa Briefing 05 October 2004


As the Darfur crisis understandably preoccupies the international community, inadequate attention is being paid to ending Sudan's 21-year old civil war between the Khartoum government and the mainly southern insurgency led by the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army). The peace process mediated by the regional organisation IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), looked close to finality in June 2004 but is now at risk. The draft agreement negotiated at Naivasha contains provisions that can assist a political solution in Darfur. The two sets of issues are closely related and need to be dealt with equally and urgently. However, unless current dynamics change, and the UN Security Council puts more pressure upon Khartoum to conclude the IGAD agreement, war could soon resume across the country.

If the government chooses to delay conclusion of the peace agreement when the IGAD negotiations resume on 7 October, the six protocols already signed but not yet in force may well begin to unravel -- under pressure from regime hardliners and intellectuals in the North who argue that too many concessions were made to the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army), and from elements within the SPLA who never trusted the regime to keep its word and believe it has been weakened by Darfur. If this happens, new fronts in a war that has already cost two million lives are likely to emerge in the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and the east.

If the government chooses cooperation, peace in Sudan could be secured before the end of the year. Wrapping up the IGAD (Naivasha) agreement would lay the groundwork for further understandings with the umbrella opposition group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and, more importantly, provide models for a Darfur resolution and begin the process towards democratisation and national elections.

However, indications are the regime is leaning toward further intransigence. The signals it is sending on IGAD are mixed at best, suggesting it is stalling in an effort to persuade the international community to relax its Darfur demands. Khartoum also has obstructed the deployment of a sizeable African Union (AU) force with a specific mandate to protect civilians in Darfur, while its effort to link disarmament of Janjaweed militia to the cantonment of the Darfur rebels helped stymie recent AU-mediated talks. While Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, adopted a conciliatory approach before the Security Council on 29 September 2004, pledging cooperation with an AU force, there remains much ambiguity about what that will mean in practice.

Khartoum appears to calculate that commercial and sovereignty considerations will ensure that most countries and international institutions will apply no more than rhetorical pressure. It encourages the perception that if serious pressure is applied, it would be counter-productive, giving advantages to putative "hardliners" or even causing the regime to crack, leaving a failed state in its wake. These tactics have served the regime well since it seized power in 1989.

The lesson of those fifteen years, however, is that when the government has been the target of serious pressure with a specific objective, it has modified its behaviour. It is a pragmatic regime that will do what it has to in order to survive, including choosing cooperation rather than attempting to impose unilateral solutions.

The international community should act on a number of fronts to achieve a comprehensive solution to Sudan's multiple and interconnected problems, one that deals equally with the IGAD peace process and Darfur. The Security Council should give itself further leverage on Darfur by moving quickly to deploy the first elements of the International Commission of Inquiry it established by its resolution of 18 September 2004. If there is not concrete progress on its Darfur demands by the end of October, especially the AU protection force, the Council should impose an arms embargo on the Sudanese government, an assets freeze on companies owned by the ruling party that do business abroad, and a travel ban on senior Sudanese officials.

Diplomatic pressure must simultaneously be escalated to produce a swift conclusion on the IGAD (Naivasha) process. The Security Council needs to state clearly that if the parties do not make progress when they resume the IGAD negotiations on 7 October and fail to conclude a final agreement by the end of the year, it will assess responsibility and take appropriate decisions. Other issues must also be addressed, particularly the complications presented by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the brutal Ugandan insurgency whose depredations have often been supported by Khartoum in pursuit of its war aims in the South.

Ultimately, the regime must understand that meaningful penalties can only be avoided or removed if it acts quickly and constructively on both the IGAD agreement and Darfur. It should not be allowed to pick and choose which issues, or parts of issues, it wishes to move on, playing these off against others. This is the moment for it to decide its path -- and firmness in New York and key capitals is necessary to inform its choice.

Darfur: Mandate and Size of AU Ceasefire Commission Must Be Expanded

Refugees International

October 19, 2004

Sarah Martin and Mamie Mutchler, or 202.828.0110

The African Union (AU), with the encouragement of the member states of the United Nations Security Council, has placed monitors and a small force to protect them in Darfur, Sudan to monitor the April 8 Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the two Darfur-based rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). At present AU monitors are responding daily to allegations of breaches of the ceasefire, many of which comprise attacks on innocent civilians. During the week of October 2, a Ceasefire Commission (CFC) team was patrolling in South Darfur when it saw Government of Sudan helicopters flying in formation. The team members turned off the road and followed the direction from which the planes were coming. Within minutes they came across a village which had just experienced an attack. The monitors witnessed 50 armed militia, known popularly as the Janjaweed, retreating on camels and horses. In their wake the village was burning and civilians had been shot.

Observers agreed to talk to Refugees International on the grounds of complete anonymity. "You could see the strafing on the ground where bombs had been thrown from the helicopters. One farmer had been shot in the back while he was tending his crop. If these civilians had been carrying guns that might have justified an attack. But they weren't. At this point we're tired of responding to calls to just count dead bodies. It makes you very angry."

"These attacks were clearly orchestrated between government forces and the armed militias. It wouldn't be possible to synchronize movements without close coordination. We have the ability to check the air traffic times for planes departing and landing from the local airport, and can provide double confirmation that these flights took place."

In the light of such incidents, members of the CFC admitted to RI that the April 8 agreement has been breached so often that in reality there is no ceasefire in a war that has claimed over 50,000 lives and left 1.5 million internally displaced persons without permanent homes, completely dependent upon international humanitarian assistance.

With or without a real ceasefire, expanding the mandate and size of the AU mission appears to be the only politically feasible means of providing protection to civilians in war-torn Darfur. While monitors are currently able to investigate attacks after the fact, and at times come across an attack which is underway, they have no power to intervene and no mandate to stop the fighting or even to keep a fragile peace between the warring parties and innocent civilians.

In his second report to the UN Security Council on October 4, 2004, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sudan, Jan Pronk, recommended the speedy deployment of a "sizeable" AU force with an expanded mandate to include ensuring protection of the rights of internally displaced persons in their areas of origin; ensuring the safety of displaced persons in the camps and the safe and voluntary return of displaced persons and refugees to their areas of origin; monitoring the behavior and actions of the Sudanese government police; and disarming fighters, including the Popular Defense Forces and the Janjaweed militia. SRSG Pronk concluded his paragraph on the AU mandate by stating, "If one or more of these tasks remain unfulfilled, an unstable situation, unsustainable peace, or even no peace at all will result."

The lack of women on the AU CFC teams has made investigating gender-based violence difficult. "Without a woman on the team, the women of Darfur are often reluctant to talk to us so we have to read between the lines," a source in the AU confirmed. While rapes are not considered a violation of the ceasefire, nonetheless AU CFC teams have been collaborating with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights monitors to document human rights cases.

Logistics are handicapping the AU. AU missions need more vehicles, more accommodations, and more communication equipment for the staff they currently have. This problem will only intensify if more troops are deployed. There are also reports that the Government of Sudan has been delaying AU equipment in customs in Khartoum.

Yet, despite logistical difficulties, the Ceasefire Commission itself is holding together. Under the April 8 Agreement, representatives from all three fighting forces and foreign ceasefire monitors are part of a panel which decides ultimately whether a breach of the agreement has occurred. Although final determinations can take several weeks, and are often disputed by the party that received the allegation against it, reports are made, and the monitors are able to carry out their work without active obstruction.

Many non-governmental organizations feel that the presence of AU monitors, and their accompanying protection force, is also useful in deterring attacks against civilians in some areas, and helps maintain humanitarian access. However, both the AU and the international humanitarian agencies admit that this presence alone is not sufficient to stop the ongoing attacks against civilians, or to stem the waves of civilians forcibly displaced from villages and homes that arrive daily in IDP camps throughout Darfur.

Therefore Refugees International recommends that:

  • The Government of Sudan, SLA and JEM forces maintain the April 8 Ceasefire Agreement. All parties to the agreement must live up to the provisions of common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions and refrain from attacking innocent civilians.
  • At the meeting of its Peace and Security Council on October 20, the AU agree to broaden the mandate of its force in Darfur to include the protection of civilians and the disarmament of both pro-government militia and rebel forces, as recommended by SRSG Pronk, and that the number of personnel be increased to enable the force to carry out this expanded mandate.
  • The Government of Sudan make a credible effort to disarm the armed militias, known as the Janjaweed.
  • The United States and the European Union increase their logistics support to the AU monitors. In addition, they should put pressure on the government of Sudan to ensure that equipment is expedited through customs.
  • The African Union, with support from the United States and the European Union, send female military observers to increase their capacity to document violence against women.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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