2010 Sudan Faces Danger of Secession of the South by ksb71800


									                                                    Arab Reform

36      February

     2010: Sudan Faces Danger of Secession of the South

                                  Haydar Ibrahim *

The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha (Kenya) on January 9th, 2005
was greeted by a torrent of optimism, generated by the international guarantees and
momentum, and promises of economic assistance and political backing for the agreement. The
Sudanese people believed that they had bid farewell to the era of civil war and armed conflict
for good. Today, however, the situation is quite different. The Sudanese people are currently
celebrating the fifth anniversary of the agreement in a climate full of fear for the near future,
and more specifically the results of the referendum on self-determination due to take place in
under a year. There is no party on the current Sudanese horizon, whether local, regional or
international, capable of stemming the drift towards the secession of the South, or willing to
do so. Rather, various actors are now scrutinizing and finalizing the details of securing a
“peaceful secession,” and making arrangements for the “post-secession” scenario. Thus it
appears that attention is focused on how to avoid the outbreak of a new war at that point.
However, the factors that carved out the Naivasha Agreement and created the prospect of the
secession of the South have also had an effect in other areas. Darfuris are now talking, for the
first time, about the right to self-determination, while the Doha meeting, dedicated to
addressing the question of Darfur and originally scheduled for late January 2010, has been
indefinitely postponed. Meanwhile regional and tribal confrontations are flaring up in other
areas of the country, warning of further fragmentation. And as a result of these conflicts, and
of neglect, corruption and tyranny, starvation now threatens the whole of Sudan.

    The Agreement: The Strong Role of              (SPLM) - have just emerged from
    External Forces and Weakness of                parliamentary battles over a number of
    Internal Factors                               key laws. The conflict between the two
                                                   parties would have hastened the collapse
    On the fifth anniversary of the Naivasha       of the agreement were it not for the
    Agreement, its signatories - the National      decisive and rapid intervention of the
    Congress Party (NCP) and the                   United States and its other sponsors. This
    Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement             is what allowed the parties partaking in
* Director of the Center for Sudanese Studies


each joint meeting to repeatedly                   landing” plan that has been promoted by
announce the death of unity, barring a             the Americans. It is clear that neither
miracle. At the same time, in a joint              side felt it achieved what it had hoped,
statement by their foreign ministers,              that the international pressures were
Norway, Britain and the US – three of the          more powerful than the convictions and
sponsors of the                                    goodwill of the Sudanese parties.

Naivasha Agreement – expressed their               The parties returned to Khartoum, each
concern over the implementation of its             with a separate agreement in their
remaining important articles. Further,             minds, i.e. each took from it what they
the Special UN Representative, Mr.                 wanted to understand, or rather from
Ashraf Qadi, voiced the international              what they stood to gain most. From the
organization’s       hope      that     the        start, each party was at pains to stress
disagreements could be overcome, and               that it had not been defeated in the war
ten relief agencies operating in Sudan             and that it had profited from the peace.
warned against a return to fighting and            However, when the two parties sat down
war. There is a consensus that 2010 will           at the negotiating table they were both
be a decisive and critical year, and               exhausted and incapable of resuming the
represent a crossroads for Sudan as a              war in case the negotiations broke down.
unified entity. Indeed, some believe that          It was therefore natural that they should
it will be the final year in which a united        accept a flawed settlement. Thus the
Sudan celebrates the anniversary of its            conflict began in the midst of the peace
independence.                                      agreement. The NCP was better equipped
                                                   to impose its vision than the SPLM, which
The current political reality in Sudan falls       has been damaged early on by the loss of
within what is termed the “Naivasha era,”          its strategic brain, Jon Qarnak. The NCP
or that of the Comprehensive Peace                 endeavored to achieve a specific
Agreement. Hence one cannot fully                  objective from the agreement, namely to
comprehend what is now taking place                benefit     from      the     alignment   of
without knowing the background that                international forces by garnering
created peace in Naivasha. One can argue           legitimacy for itself for a six-year period,
that the agreement was weak and                    the timeframe of the agreement (2005-
ambiguous from the outset, i.e. that it            2011). It further sought to prevent the
was     open     to    many      conflicting       agreement from becoming a means of
interpretations. Its flaws can be                  dismantling the party quietly from
attributed to the strong role that was             within. At the same time, it was
played by external forces vis-à-vis the            impossible to implement the agreement
weakness of internal factors. The two              under the shadow of the prevailing
parties came under extreme pressures               totalitarianism, since most of its articles
from the sponsors and observers to the             stipulated democratic transition. The
negotiations, particularly after the               agreement also stated that Sudan was in
negotiations had run on for two and a              need of a transitional period during
half years from the adoption of the                which the conditions would be created
framework protocol in Machakos on July             for holding fair and free elections and a
20th, 2002. The mediators finally tired of         referendum in a democratic climate.
the foot-dragging and set a deadline for           However, the NCP viewed it as a natural
the signing, leaving some of the thornier          extension of its rule and as a period in
issues, such as the problem of Abyei, for          the wider context of its Islamic cultural
future negotiations. This is the “smooth           project, i.e. a relative shift away from the

Translated by Katie Hesketh

call to religious jihad made by the party         not an attempt at rapprochement with its
in its more zealous early years.                  former allies in the opposition. The SPLM
                                                  began life as an original, founding faction
The dominant Islamist elite entered the           in the opposition National Democratic
post-Naivasha era with the mentality of           Alliance party, and signed the Asmara
“stabilization” – in the sense of the term        Declaration on Decisive Issues with it in
used to describe political power. In their        1995, considered the most important and
view, it is not possible to achieve               comprehensive document to have
stabilization without exercising full             addressed the resolution of the problem
control over the apparatus of the state,          of Sudan and the South.
and appointing loyal rather than
qualified people without partisan                 In addition, the SPLM, which rules in the
commitments. This exclusion was given             South, has not achieved any tangible
the religious justification that it               progress over the course of the last five
constituted giving preference to the              years. This failure has compounded the
faithful and the strong, in accordance            bitterness felt by the Southerners by
with the Sunna. However, this approach            confirming to them their vulnerability to
was at complete odds with the letter and          neglect, even though some of them are
the spirit of the agreement, as it is not         partners in governance and wealth. Here
based on equal citizenship rights.                the responsibility falls on the so-called
Moreover, the NCP fought to uphold laws           National Unity Government, and on the
that restrict freedoms and to expand the          Government of Southern Sudan itself.
powers of the security apparatus,                 Charges of corruption and profiteering
including its right to detain without             from government offices and have also
recourse to the public prosecutor’s office,       been leveled at the Southern ruling elite.
and the continuation of former                    Furthermore, the NCP has an interest in
censorship over the press. This is what           encouraging           under-development,
killed the agreement and caused the               deterioration in quality of life, and
failure of the peace process: the Islamists       political divisions in the South, so as to
wanted to have their cake and eat it too.         ingrain the idea that Southerners are not
                                                  capable of governing themselves in the
On the other hand, the NCP has been               future.
successful in holding its partner in the
agreement, the SPLM, in check. The latter         The conflicting positions adopted by the
party itself helped in this, as it found it       parties to the agreement have hampered
difficult to transform its ranks from             the delivery of its benefits. Valuable time
militants and combatants into civilians           has been lost to squabbles and conflicts,
able to administer and rule, and then to          and     meanwhile      the     agreement’s
transform into a political party. The             expiration date has drawn near. The
SPLM committed a fatal error by                   latter months of 2009 witnessed heated
accepting the idea that the NCP was the           confrontations in parliament over the
sole guarantor of the Comprehensive               rules for the referendum, national
Peace Agreement. It thereby allowed the           security, public consultation, the trade
NCP to isolate it from the other political        unions, etc. that would have torpedoed
opposition parties and forces. Thus the           the agreement were it not for swift and
NCP singled out the SPLM. However, the            decisive mediations. The gap in positions
SPLM felt eventually it had reached an            widened to the point that the SPLM
impasse. The latest Juba Conference, held         sought the help of the anti-NCP forces at
in late September 2009, was nothing if            the Juba Conference, and staged public

Translated by Katie Hesketh

marches with them on December 7th and              regime have relations with the West,
14th, 2009. Although the two marches               which could act as a driving force for
went off peacefully, the police used               them. It is striking that all the
excessive         force      against     the       conferences and reconciliation meetings
demonstrators and the Secretary General            on Sudanese crises were held outside
of the PMLS and his deputy were                    Sudan. The Salvation Regime also threw
arrested. By holding protests outside              its weight behind a role for external
official institutions, the SPLM managed to         powers.
exert pressure on its partner in the
agreement, the NCP. As a result the latter         Ironically, following the decision of the
abandoned its attempts to pass the laws            International Criminal Court (ICC) to
that were the source of the dispute.               issue an arrest warrant for President
However, the situation highlighted the             Omar Al-Bashir, the United States has
confusion that has characterized the               begun to play a decisive role in steering
political conduct of the two parties in this       and supervising the situation in Sudan.
delicate period. For although the SPLM is          This can attributed to several reasons,
a partner in the regime, it is at the same         including the fact that the United States
time demonstrating against it in the               is not a member of the ICC, and therefore
streets, despite the fact that there are           will not take a hard stance on the issue
joint formal institutions that bring the           and may search for another way out for
two parties together and to which they             Sudan, as the High-Level Panel on Darfur
can resort to resolve disputes. For its            of the African Union is now doing under
part, the NCP did not include its partner          the chairmanship of former South
in discussions over legislation, and               African president Thabo Mbeki. Secondly,
passed laws by the technical majority              there is the United States’ supposed
(52%) granted to it by the agreement.              influence among Southerners. Thirdly,
But it backed down, and just 48 hours              there is an urgent desire to improve
later called on parliament to review the           relations with Washington, and the NCP
laws it had previously endorsed.                   is seeking to gain its approval and avoid
                                                   sanctions and confrontation. The
Internationalization and the American              Sudanese security apparatus presented
Strategy                                           its American counterpart with valuable
                                                   information on terrorism in the region.
The        deliberate      policy       of         The United States finally designated a
internationalizing     Sudanese    issues,         presidential envoy to Sudan, who
including the problems of the South,               changes depending on policy (the latest
Darfur and the East, has undermined                of these envoys is retired General Scott
both national sovereignty and the                  Gration), and whose role has grown
national will. The regime has deliberately         closer to that of the High Commissioner
prevented the political opposition forces          in Sudan. He constantly intervenes in
– which represented an overall majority            disputes between the two parties, and it
at the last elections in 1986 – from               has become the norm for the United
playing a part in the resolution of                States to summon them to Washington or
national issues, as this would entail its          to meet them periodically in Khartoum
implicit recognition of them. Instead, the         or Juba to discuss disagreements that
regime preferred external mediation –              could erupt between them. A short time
specifically American and European –               ago Gration revealed that the American
because of the sway of external                    administration intended to send a
pressures: all parties opposed to the              permanent American team to Sudan to

Translated by Katie Hesketh

support the process of democratic                  Comprehensive        Peace     Agreement,
transition and the elections, and to               indicating that genuine democratic
oversee the implementation of the                  transition remained a distant prospect.
Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This                She held the NCP responsible for the
development follows the announcement               slow implementation of the agreement,
of the Obama government’s strategy                 and called for the laws that limit freedom
towards Sudan on October 19th, 2009, the           of expression, assembly and peaceful
preamble of which states that, “Sudan is           protest to be repealed.
at an important crossroads that can
either lead to steady improvements in              The Ethnicization of Politics
the lives of the Sudanese people or
degenerate into even more violent                  The reawakening of tribalism was a
conflict and state failure. Now is the time        misguided policy through which the
for the United States to act with a sense          regime intended to supplant party-based
of urgency and purpose to protect                  affiliation and revert to tribal loyalties,
civilians    and      work     toward     a        and thereby to pull the rug out from
comprehensive peace. The consequences              under the political parties in their
are stark. Sudan’s implosion could lead to         traditional areas of influence. Among the
widespread regional instability or new             gravest developments is the fact that the
safe-havens for international terrorists,          federal regime has begun to entrench
significantly threatening U.S. interests.”         tribalism by handing out positions
The declared strategic objectives                  according to the weight of the tribes.
consisted of: (1) a definitive end to              There is a powerful trend towards
conflict, gross human rights abuses, and           ethnicizing conflicts and disputes and to
genocide in Darfur; (2) implementation             strip them of all political or economic
of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement;              dimensions.      Regional    and     tribal
(3) ensuring that Sudan does not provide           groupings and organizations have
a safe haven for international terrorists.         multiplied, both because the conditions
This warning appears in the text itself: “It       of secrecy and oppression have curtailed
must be clear to all parties that Sudanese         the activity and movement of the political
support for counter-terrorism is valued,           parties in the more remote regions, and
but cannot be used as a bargaining chip            because the regime has encouraged this
to evade responsibilities in Darfur or in          vacuum to be filled by supporting the
implementing the Comprehensive Peace               establishment of regional and tribal
Agreement.”                                        organizations. This is a dangerous game,
                                                   the consequences of which were made
                                                   apparent in the Darfur crisis. The regime
It is notable that the issue of democratic         strove to weaken the traditional
transition was not a clear priority in the         influence of the Umma Party in the area
American strategy. However, after the              by reviving tribal loyalty, which turned
confrontations in parliament then the              into racism when the tribes divided
forced passage of the National Security            themselves into Arabs and Zurqa (a
Act, the Americans realized the                    pejorative     term     meaning     “Black
difficulties involved in achieving their           Africans”). Many of these groupings then
three objectives without genuine                   transformed into armed opposition
democratic transition. In subsequent               movements as the regime was incapable
statements made early this year, US                of containing them, meeting their
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned          demands or redressing their grievances.
of serious threats to the progress of the          After tribal conflicts escalated into

Translated by Katie Hesketh

recurrent armed clashes, the regime is            orchestrated   attacks   on   the   larger
now seeking to call for what it refers to         villages.
as “repairing the social fabric.”
Traditional social relations have indeed          The central government is clearly no
been torn apart and what the Sudanese             longer in control of the entire national
have in common has been lost. Darfur              territory thanks to its misguided
has now become the regime’s bleeding              approaches based on the principle of
ulcer: the situation is critical and              divide and conquer. These policies have
Darfuris are speaking about self-                 backfired: the reins of power have
determination for the first time. On              slipped from its hands and it is now
January 10th, 2010, during a visit to Juba        reaping the bitter fruit.
to hold talks with the Government of the
South and the SPLM, Yahya Bolad, Head             Conclusion: Is Secession the Only
of External Relations of the Sudan                Option?
Liberation Movement (SLM), Abdul                  The unfolding events have underlined
Wahid faction, stated that they would try         the fact that the parties to the Naivasha
to benefit from the experiences of the            Agreement have failed to achieve its
SPLM in the field of self-determination.          most important component, namely
He confirmed that his movement’s new              confidence-building.          Southerners
vision consisted of placing the right to          continue to accuse Northerners of
self-determination at the forefront of its        breaking their promises (the title of a
actions, and that there would be no               book written by renowned Southern
negotiations unless the right to self-            judge Abil Alir). In the years following
determination of the people of Darfur             the agreement the two sides both had
was guaranteed to be on the agenda of             great misgivings and apprehensions,
future talks. Days before the Doha                hence     the     suspension     in    the
negotiations, the government and the              implementation of the agreement and
SLM traded accusations of renewed                 the tension in relations. In addition,
fighting at Jebel Marra.                          Sudan is experiencing problems that help
                                                  accelerate secession. The Darfur crisis
The SPLM accuses the NCP of stoking               continues     to    worsen,    and     the
tribal feuds in the South, and of arming          negotiations and mediations have come
tribes hostile to the Dinka tribe, the            to a standstill. Furthermore, despite
backbone of the SPLM. Groups of                   attempts to minimize the effect of the
international observers have warned of            ICC’s decision on Sudanese politics, Al-
the renewal of fighting in the South              Bashir has become a “handicapped”
should things continue on their current           president. He cannot travel freely and
course. In case of secession, after a year,       thus has been unable to attend meetings
the problems that have been long                  of the UN General Assembly, the climate
simmering in the South would explode as           summit at Copenhagen, or even the
a result of tribal divisions, corruption          inauguration ceremony for the South
and the lack of security outside urban            African president. Furthermore, the
centers. The International Crisis Group           country’s descent into a grinding
shed light on these ethnic conflicts in           economic crisis is among the problems
2009, reporting that 2,500 people were            hampering the initiation of new policies
killed in acts of tribal violence, and that       to avert the inevitability of secession, a
many of the victims were women and                crisis that has local roots and is not
children who died in ruthless, well-              merely a reflection of the global
                                                  downturn. Sudan is in the grip of a food

Translated by Katie Hesketh

gap that threatens famine, particularly in        politically immature practices. They are
the South, the East and Darfur. Local and         now at a stage of trading accusations and
international agencies have predicted             blame, and apportioning responsibility to
that the shortage will rise to 60% of             the other side. They both fear bearing
grain production due to drought,                  national,     moral      and      historical
underfunding, and poor preparation for            responsibility for the secession. But what
the summer cropping season.                       is happening now was anticipated. Thus
                                                  we find ourselves before two parallel,
Amidst these overlapping crises there             contradictory projects that do not meet
are no political forces – either in the           in the middle: the Islamic civilizational
government or the opposition – that are           project and a secular democratic project,
capable of reversing the rapid descent            as their proponents term them. In the
towards secession. Thus time has run out          first project, the state is based on the
and we no longer hear any talk of “the            unity of faith, and in the second on the
pull of unity,” but rather of “a smooth and       foundations of citizenship and non-
peaceful secession to avoid the country’s         discrimination on the basis of faith, color,
return to war” (this is a verbatim                race or sex. Hence the SPLM accused the
statement made by NCP leader Al-                  NCP of not having changed following the
Dardiri Mohamed Ahmed, as quoted in               agreement, but of trying only to “fill new
the Sudanese press on January 11th,               bottles with old wine,” i.e. continuing to
2010.) Holding meetings to discuss post-          impose the ideology of Islamism in new
secession arrangements has been a                 ways. The NCP retorted that the SPLM
concern within political and academic             had not acted as a partner, that it had
circles in recent times, on subjects such         concerned itself exclusively with the
as borders, oil and nationality. As for the       South and behaved like an autonomous
SPLM, it has recently called for a relief         southern government, and was not
program, or what the movement’s                   interested in public affairs.
Deputy General-Secretary, Yasir Arman,
called the “300 days program,” to include         It should be noted that within the
all Sudanese in the resolution of the             Sudanese Islamist movement there is an
Darfur crisis, the elections and the              internal stream that calls for the
referendum. In the same context, Mr.              severance of the South as non-Muslim
Sadiq Al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma                and a stumbling block to the realization
Party, has called for a political summit to       of a “pure” Islamic state. This faction split
set out the features of the coming period.        off to found its own party, the
He stressed that the current situation in         Comprehensive Peace Platform, which
Sudan has killed off a large part of              publishes the newspaper Al-Intibaha. It
national sovereignty and made the                 calls for the immediate separation of the
secession of the South more likely. He            South, and for Northerners to take the
emphasized that many factors have                 initiative before the referendum on the
rendered the unity of Sudan in its                secession of the South. This stream is by
present form impossible, and as an                no means isolated, but enjoys support
alternative to a unified Sudan proposed a         from within the ruling NCP party.
confederation to bring together Sudan,
Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia.                        The other political forces – besides the
                                                  signatories of the agreement – have not
It has become clear that the two parties          set out an independent position in favor
to the agreement have failed to make              of unity.      They have       contented
unity attractive because of their                 themselves, particularly in recent times,

Translated by Katie Hesketh

with aligning themselves with one or the          African states are basically in unison in
other party, as was the case at the               not opposing secession, on condition that
Kenana Conference, organized by the               it does not lead to destabilization in
NCP, and the Juba Conference,                     Africa.
engineered by the SPLM. Moreover, these
alliances or alignments are not based on          The international community, too, is in
a national unity platform, but are merely         general not opposed to secession, only
temporary partisan configurations.                because it sponsored and guaranteed the
                                                  Naivasha Agreement, which provides for
The NCP has succeeded in creating some            a referendum on the right to self-
kind of equivalence between its own               determination that allows for the two
presence and the continued unity of the           eventualities of unity or secession. The
homeland, and in persuading others that           concern is that secession should not
its downfall would spell the end of Sudan.        generate instability in the region. Thus
At the same time, all political parties           Western       states   are      concerning
have proven incapable of reforming their          themselves with the post-secession
political programs and leadership, who            arrangements. It is not the case, as
have aged and are no longer persuasive            repeatedly claimed in government
or able to keep up with developments,             circles, that the West is trying to bring
and have therefore not presented                  about secession; rather, it is in favor of a
themselves as an alternative. In addition         situation that will produce stability,
are the growing divisions and the                 combat terrorism and integrate Sudan
emergence of regional entities, at the            into the global economy. These are the
expense     of   the major        political       objectives and interests of the West, and
organizations.                                    it makes no difference to it whether they
                                                  are achieved by a united or a divided
At the regional level, both Arab and              Sudan.
African, no efforts are being made to
avert secession. Egypt no longer plays            This, then, is the image before us: a
any effective role in Sudanese politics.          failed state, a crippled peace
The negotiations were held in Naivasha            agreement, a war and ongoing tribal
(Kenya), a clear indication of the end of         conflicts in Darfur, and a grinding
the Egyptian role in resolving the                economic crisis - all within a regional
Sudanese issue. At the time, Egyptian             and     international     climate    of
attention was directed eastwards. There           indifference. Thus, based on these
is now talk about water and Egyptian              facts, secession appears to be an
national security in case of secession, but       inevitability.
no practical efforts to help the option of
unity to prevail. Libya continues to
practice the “policy of no policy” towards
Sudan, as it is difficult to identify any
sustained Libyan position. Indeed, Tripoli
has at times played a duplicitous role, as
it did in Darfur. And the question of the
South has never been a concern for Saudi
Arabia. In fact, the only Arab country to
have displayed an interest in Sudan is
Qatar, but this interest is part of the
theatrical diplomacy pursued by Doha.

Translated by Katie Hesketh

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