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Sudan: Opportunity for Peace
May 15, 2006 (060515)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"This is the triumph of Africa doing what it should be doing with
the support of the international community. [but unless there is]
the right spirit, the right attitude and the right disposition,
this document will not be worth the paper it is written on." -
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, commenting on signature of
peace agreement on Darfur
Among other provisions, the peace agreement requires the
disarmament of the government-created Janjaweed militias that have
been principally responsible for over 200,000 civilian deaths. But the
obstacles include not only doubts
that the government will implement the agreement and the failure of
two of three rebel groups to sign, but also doubts whether the
"international community" will provide either the resources or the
continuing pressure needed for implementation. At present, stressed
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, even relief supplies are forcing
relief agencies to cut rations in half for this month, and African
Union peacekeeping need immediate additional support for the months
it would take for new United Nations forces to arrive.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a commentary by Alex de Waal, an
adviser to the African Union mediating team on the Darfur
agreement; brief news updates from the UN's Integrated Regional
Information Networks and the UN News Service; and a press release
from Refugees International outlining needed additional action from
the United States and other countries.
For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, visit
For current news and commentary on Sudan, visit
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Without Foreign Chancelleries and Hollywood's Finest, Can Darfur
Peace Deal Succeed?
Alex de Waal*
* Alex de Waal is director, Justice Africa, and Senior Adviser to
Salim Ahmed Salim, Chief African Union Mediator at the Darfur Peace
Pambazuka News 254
Correction received from Pambazuka News, May 16, 2006
We have beeen informed that the article 'Without foreign
chancelleries and Hollywood’s finest, can Darfur peace deal
succeed?', carried in the features section of Pambazuka News 254, was
written by Julie Flint and not, as previously indicated, by Alex de
It has also come to our attention that this article was first
published in Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper,
The information published on Pambazuka News website has been accordingly corrected.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Additional Note from AfricaFocus Bulletin
Indepedent journalist Flint and Sudan specialist de Waal are co-authors of the recent book Darfur: A Short History of a Long War
(London: Zed Books, 2006).
A peace deal to end three years of fighting, the death of tens of
thousands and the flight of millions was signed last Friday between
the Sudanese government and the main Darfur rebel faction. The next
stage in the peace process will be on May 15, when the African
Union meets in an attempt to persuade two other rebel factions to
sign the peace deal and to discuss when the United Nations will
take over peacekeeping duties from the African Union. Can the peace
deal succeed? Alex de Waal weights its chances.
It took four years to negotiate an end to Mozambique's civil war.
That peace, signed in 1992, has lasted until today. The Darfur
Peace Agreement, which it was hoped would end the first genocide of
the 21st century, was forced through in little more than a year. If
it fails to end the conflict in western Sudan, it will be because
of its process rather than its provisions. The process has been
flawed from the beginning, and could be fatal at the last. The DPA
may well be the best the people of Darfur can get in their present,
miserable circumstances. But international pressure for a quick fix
threatens to cripple it - and in so doing to condemn Darfurians to
Defenders of the peace process that began in the Ethiopian capital,
Addis Ababa, in mid-2004 before shifting to the Nigerian capital,
Abuja, will argue that it lasted almost two years. On paper, yes.
In truth, no. The first four rounds of the seven-round talks were
dominated by the Sudan government's egregious violations of
ceasefire agreements and the international community's failure to
take a single meaningful step to stop them. When serious
negotiation was finally engaged, the African Union mediation was
almost as problematic as the rebel negotiators themselves. The
mediation improved towards the end of 2005, but popular pressure
from outside Darfur for armed intervention was by then encouraging
a series of deadlines that culminated with a 30 April date set by
the AU Peace and Security Council. The best of the AU's experts in
Abuja believed April was unrealistic, off by a couple of months at
On 25 April, the AU presented its draft agreement. Previous
deadlines had come and gone. But this one, astonishingly, was
enforced (more or less). Officially, the parties had five days to
take the agreement - or leave it. Five days, that is, for those
able to read and understand English. Those who were dependent on
the Arabic text, completed on 28 April, had only 48 hours. The
people of Darfur, who will live or die by the agreement, know very
little about it. They have not been party to the talks. No-one has
explained the agreement to them. (Least of all the state-controlled
media, which would not be permitted to mention the state's many
concessions.) They do not know what it offers and what it doesn't
- and, most importantly, why it doesn't. There is no individual
compensation, they tell me. But there is. No timetable for the
disarmament of the Janjaweed militias. But there is. No guarantees
for implementation. But there are - inasmuch as there can be in the
face of a government that will see implementation as defeat and
will fight it every inch of the way.
This was never a people's peace, a peace that grew from within and
had strong, deep roots. Today it is an imposed and partial peacebetween
the Sudan government and the faction of the Sudan
Liberation Army that is led by Minni Minawi, who represents 8% at
most of the population of Darfur. It is already faltering:
Darfurians are demonstrating against it in towns and displaced
camps, recognizing in the signatories two narrowly-based parties
who believe in domination through force and preferring continued
struggle to what they believe is surrender. SLA Chairman Abdul
Wahid Mohamed al Nur, until now the single most important rebel
leader in terms of popular support as opposed to firepower, is
insisting he will not sign, refusing sack- fulls of dollars
intended to change his mind.
There are many in the Khartoum government who believe they can
crush the movements by force and who, given half a chance, will
try. Rushing an agreement that some factions still oppose could, in
a worst-case scenario, give them that chance.
Interpretation of the DPA varies enormously. My own is that it is
a pretty good deal. Not the best, perhaps, but not bad. The rebel
movements have from the beginning suffered from delusions of
grandeur. Unlike the southern rebels of the SPLA, they have not
fought for 20 years. Their region is of little or no strategic
importance: it has no water and it has no oil. The rebels
themselves are divided, without a leader who can hold a candle to
the SPLA's John Garang. Most importantly: they did not win the war.
Their only asset was the support of the international community,
and their comportment in Abuja - and in Darfur itself - has damaged
Even those who have rejected the agreement acknowledge that its
security provisions are surprisingly good. The Sudan government
must withdraw its forces from many areas it currently occupies, and
must disarm the Janjaweed within five months - before the rebels
even begin to lay down their guns. Guarantees include an
independent advisory team that both Canada and Norway, outspoken
critics of the Khartoum government, are keen to head up. The
government must downsize the paramilitary Popular Defence Force and
Border Guards in which Janjaweed have been hidden. The hated PDF
must be abolished in three or four years. Thousands of rebels will
be integrated into the Sudanese Armed Forces. Some will even be
given command posts.
The agreement's weakest point, from Darfur's viewpoint, is its
provisions for power-sharing. At the federal level, the rebel
movements have won few concessions and have been refused the third
place in the national hierarchy. But they have the fourth - in
itself a gigantic step up. The government has won the battle to
keep Darfur divided into three states, until a referendum on a
single region, and controls 50% of state legislatures to the
rebels' 30%, with 20% going to independents - a division that
could, in reality, produce an anti- government majority.
Critically, however, the movements will control the Transitional
Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) and annual income of hundreds of
millions of dollars. It is the TDRA which will be the real power
until elections. It will implement the peace agreement, supervise
reconstruction and economic development, and help the return and
resettlement of the refugees. All the TDRA's commission heads will
be the movements' nominees.
The real, abiding concern is implementation. Because of the
timetable, the implementing force will be the AU, which has been
hopelessly under-resourced so far. UN troops may be accepted by
Khartoum now the strongest rebel faction has signed the agreement,
but they cannot arrive much before year-end. The threat of UN
sanctions frightens no-one. What is most disturbing is the degree
of eagle-eyed, unrelenting international pressure that will be
needed to force Khartoum to do all the things it is refusing to do
in South Sudan. Not just now, when the world's eyes are on Darfur,
but in a few years time, when foreign chancelleries and Hollywood's
finest may have shifted their attention to another crisis and
another photo opportunity.
AU calls for UN troop support in Darfur
09 May 2006
United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Abuja, 9 May (IRIN) - The force commander of the African Union
Mission in Darfur (AMIS) has urged a quick and significant
deployment of United Nations troops in the troubled Sudanese region
of Darfur to help implement a peace deal struck in the Nigerian
capital late last week.
The groundbreaking deal, signed by Sudan and the biggest of the
three rebel groups involved in the three-year conflict, provides
for the disarmament of the Darfur rebels as well as Janjawid
But with the current number of AMIS troops in Darfur now under
7,000 Major-General Collins Ihekire said help was needed. "Liberia
has 15,000 (UN peacekeepers) and we have Darfur that is three times
the size of Liberia - that is why we are calling on the
international community to note this.
"Expand the current force by bringing in UN troops. The security of
Darfur is of paramount importance to all of us now," he told a
small group of reporters. AMIS will be responsible for disarming,
encamping and demobilising rebel fighters. The Janjawid are
expected to be dismantled by the Sudanese government.
After winning last-minute concessions from Khartoum at mammoth
talks that lasted through the week in Abuja, the faction of the
Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) led by Minni Minnawi bowed
to international pressure and agreed "with reservations" to sign up
to peace. But two smaller groups refused, demanding more
concessions from Khartoum.
"Sign now and let peace reign," Ihekire urged both the rival SLM/A
faction led by Abdul Wahid Mohamed el-Nur - who is from Darfur's
largest tribe, the Fur, and thus a key player in the conflict - and
the smaller Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
AU officials said the two rebel factions had until 15 May to sign
on to the deal, clinched after more than two years of talks in
And at Friday's signing ceremony, Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo, who played a decisive role in wresting a peace deal,
appealed to the dissenters to reconsider. "Those who feel unable to
sign today, we will continue to appeal to them, to address them to
see the reason why they need to sign on behalf of the people they
claim to lead."
Commenting Monday on fears that the refusal of the two groups will
scupper the accord, General Ihekire said: "We are watching for
those who will want war and a continuous fight [and] we are
welcoming the idea of sending in the UN troops because we want all
hands to be on deck."
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan
Egeland, who is in the region, this weekend too called for the
strengthening of the AU peacekeeping force ahead of a planned
deployment of a UN mission in the Darfur region, where conditions
among civilians displaced by conflict have deteriorated as violence
"We need a real strengthening of the AU force in the interim
period," Egeland said after visiting the town of Gereida in South
The pan-African body on 10 March extended the mandate of the
African Union Mission in Sudan until 30 September, after which it
would transfer the operation to the UN. However, the Sudanese
government has been reluctant to allow the deployment of UN troops
to its territory.
The UN estimates that 3.6 million people are affected by conflict
in Darfur, of whom 1.8 million are internally displaced and 200,000
have fled to neighbouring Chad. More than 200,000 people have been
killed as a result of violence between the Sudanese government and
Last Friday's signing in Abuja, which opened a fresh ceasefire on
the ground, ended with a note of high drama when a splinter group
from el-Nur's SLM/A faction suddenly broke away to join the peace
camp. The group was led by Abdulrahman Musa.
Obasanjo called the signing a "defining moment" and said: "This is
the triumph of Africa doing what it should be doing with the
support of the international community."
But he warned that unless there is "the right spirit, the right
attitude and the right disposition this document will not be worth
the paper it is written on."
No time to lose in setting up UN force for Sudan's Darfur region
9 May 2006 - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today
called on the world community to follow up on last week's peace
accord between the Sudanese Government and the main rebel group in
Darfur by establishing a muscular UN peacekeeping force and
providing immediate aid to prevent hundreds of thousands more
"There is a vast amount to be done, and no time to lose," Mr. Annan
told a special ministerial meeting of the Security Council called
to consider the latest developments what he called the world's
worst humanitarian crisis, in which fighting between the
Government, pro-government militias and rebels has killed at least
180,000 people and uprooted 2 million more in the last three years.
He said he had already written to Sudanese President Omar Hassan
Ahmed al-Bashir seeking his support for a visit by an assessment
team to help setting up a UN force and he hoped very soon to be
able to discuss it with him directly. "His support for this vital
mission is essential," Mr. Annan added.
Until now Sudan has opposed the establishment of such a force but
said it was prepared to discuss UN involvement after the conclusion
of a peace accord in the talks in Abuja, Nigeria, where the
agreement with the largest rebel force was reached last week.
"No less urgent is the need to raise more money for emergency
relief," Mr. Annan told the 15-member body. "Without massive and
immediate support, the humanitarian agencies will be unable to
continue their work, which means that hundreds of thousands more
will die from hunger, malnutrition and disease."
A pledging conference will be held, possibly in Brussels, early
next month. "But I appeal to donors not to wait for that
conference," he said. "They need to be very generous, starting
right now. We cannot afford to lose a single day."
The main plank in following up the Abuja agreement is the
transition from the current 7,000-strong African Union Mission in
Sudan (AMIS) to a much larger UN force, though Mr. Annan said the
immediate priority must be to strengthen AMIS to implement
essential elements of the accord and provide real security for the
"But I believe we all now agree that this can only be a stopgap
measure, and that as soon as possible AMIS must be transformed into
a larger and more mobile United Nations operation, better equipped
and with a stronger mandate. We are now mobilizing all our energies
to make that happen," he added.
"Let's not underestimate the challenge that this implies. Helping
to protect the people of Darfur and to implement the Abuja
agreement will be one of the biggest tests this Organization has
ever faced - perhaps the biggest since those in Somalia, Rwanda and
Bosnia in the early 1990s," he said. "But it is a challenge we
cannot refuse. And, having accepted it, we cannot delay."
Mr. Annan noted the immediate pitfalls on the way, including the
failure of two small rebel movements to sign the Abuja accord and
yesterday's attack in a refugee camp in Darfur in which an AMIS
staff member was killed after a visit there by UN Humanitarian
Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.
Added the Secretary-General, "we must do everything in our power to
ensure that those who have signed the agreement actually implement
it on the ground, and that the people of Darfur can survive the
next few months."
The Council called on all the parties to respect their commitments
and implement the agreement without delay, and urged those
movements that have not signed the agreement to do so without
In a statement read out by Foreign Minister Rodolphe Adada of the
Republic of Congo, which holds the rotating presidency for May, the
Council urged Mr. Annan to provide at the earliest opportunity
detailed planning proposals for a UN operation in Darfur and called
on the Sudanese Government to facilitate immediately the visit of
a joint UN and African Union (AU) technical assessment.
It also asked Mr. Annan to consult urgently with potential troop
contributing counties, stressed that a UN operation should have
strong African participation and character, and called on
international and regional organizations and Member States to
afford the operation every possible assistance.
Darfur Peace Agreement Requires Continued US Engagement to Succeed
May 10, 2005
Contact: Megan Fowler, 202-828-0110 x214 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Refugees International welcomes the signature of the Darfur Peace
Agreement in Abuja on May 5, 2006, and commends the US government
for its substantial commitment, especially through the presence and
engagement of Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, to ensure
that an agreement was reached. On the matters of civilian
protection and returns, several key issues have been agreed upon,
including the disarmament and demobilization of the Janjaweed
militia, the integration of the rebel groups into the armed forces,
and the creation of buffer zones around camps for internally
displaced persons. Other important elements of the agreement
include the establishment of commissions to oversee the
rehabilitation of Darfur and compensation to the war-affected, with
the Government of Sudan indicating that it will contribute an
initial $30 million to a compensation fund.
The agreement in Abuja is only a first step, a necessary but
insufficient condition for the creation of peace and stability in
Darfur. With one faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement and the
Justice and Equality Movement refusing to sign, and Minni Minawi's
SLM faction already attempting to distance itself from the
agreement, the risks of spoilers and non-compliance are high.
Agreements in the past have been flouted by all sides, including
the Government of Sudan. There have already been demonstrations by
internally displaced persons in Darfur against the peace agreement,
resulting in an attack on the African Union civilian police and the
death of a Sudanese translator.
Above and beyond questions of compliance and good-will, the
following steps need to take place over the next few months in
order to improve the situation for the people of Darfur:
- Increase humanitarian assistance. There is still a serious
shortfall in funding for humanitarian assistance, most critically
with regards to food. Rations in Darfur have been halved from
2,100 calories a day (the minimum required to stay in good health)
to 1,050 calories in order to stretch the food stocks through the
rainy season. Over the last several days, the US has reported that
it has directed immediate resources to Sudan; much of this
assistance, however, had already been requested by the
Administration in February. European donors also need to increase
their contributions to equal that of the US.
- Get UN troops to Darfur. To date, the government of Sudan has
resisted all attempts to allow for the African Union Mission in
Sudan (AMIS) to transition to a UN peacekeeping mission, despite
the AU in principle authorizing such a handover. Sudan has
insisted it would consider a transition only after a peace
agreement was in place. Signals from Khartoum have been mixed, but
now is the time to move forward. Taking into consideration the May
15 AU Peace and Security Council meeting, where a transition to a
UN force should be authorized, RI would like to see the UN Security
Council work as quickly as possible to introduce a resolution to
expand the mandate of UNMIS to include Darfur.
- Strengthen AMIS. AMIS, which is already under-funded and
overstretched, has been given an important verification and
monitoring role in the implementation of the Darfur Peace
Agreement. Any proposed UN mission will not be in place until near
the end of this year. The AMIS donor's conference, which had been
postponed, needs to be held this month. Major donors, such as the
US, need to transform pledges into commitments and AMIS needs full
and immediate logistical assistance from NATO.
With the signing of the agreement, there is momentum to move
forward. Over two million people have been living in desperate
conditions for nearly three years. Nevertheless, it is important
that donors and the Sudanese government do not pressure the people
of Darfur into hasty returns. A year and a half ago the Sudanese
government forced displaced persons to return to their villages as
proof that the situation was stabilizing. In August of 2005,
donors and UN agencies planned for major returns in 2006 because of
projected funding cuts and an overly optimistic analysis of the
humanitarian and security situation in Darfur.
The US has made many pledges, promises and commitments over the
past several days to the rebel parties, to the Sudanese government,
and to the people of Darfur. The signature of accords in Abuja is
just the beginning; the role of the US in bringing peace to Darfur
is not yet over.
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