Neighbouring border states must be part of negotiations in the two Sudans
Posted Tuesday, March 5 2013 at 02:00
The late Dr John Garang made the observation that for lasting peace in Sudan, the political community had to be expanded. He called for a new political dispensation that was inclusive of all Sudanese. He called it the New Sudan.
Sudan and South Sudan have been going through another round of negotiations over outstanding issues left from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement was supposed to resolve the remaining issues between the two States. Two issues were left out of that agreement: the status of Abyei and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).
The failure in the implementation of the Agreement as noted in a report prepared by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), can be traced to a lack of comprehensiveness, inclusiveness, democratic consultation with all key stakeholders, and the lack of political will on the part of the leaders.
In Abyei Sudan maintains that Misseriya, a nomadic/pastoralist group from Darfur, be given the right to vote in the referendum. South Sudan insists that only the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms have the right to vote. Historically, the Misseriya have crossed the porous North-South border on a seasonal basis in search of water and pasture. Despite South Sudan’s acceptance of the AUHIP’s Proposal on the Final Status of Abyei, ensuring that Misseriya, residing in Abyei, can participate in this vote, Sudan insists the right be extended to all Misseriya. The result has been a wall between the two States that neither can scale by itself without the cooperation of the other—a worsening humanitarian crisis.
The regime in Sudan is determined to hold onto the helm of power at all cost even if that means waging war in the East, the West and in the Border States. The NCP regime holds on to the unrealistic condition that South Sudan disarms the rebels in the border region. South Sudan on the other hand has a proliferation of ethnic violence that poses threats to the state. In addition to this host of security problems is lack of development, absence of good infrastructure, heavy dependency on foreign aid, and oil revenues.
For the two countries, the issues most at stake are security and economy. The Cooperation Agreement included a security arrangement, the establishment of Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ), and a Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanisms (JBVMM). Some experts believe that the SDBZ will not prevent the sponsorship of rebellion or the proliferation of arms unless the underlining causes of conflict are resolved.
There are two assumptions that drive the peace talk between Sudan and South Sudan. One is the assumption that South Sudan, can unilaterally disarm rebels in the Border Region. The other is that if Sudan cooperated with South Sudan in the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement, peace will be achieved. The truth of the matter is that neither country can bring about a lasting peace unless the political menu is expanded to include key stakeholders in the North, South, and in the Border States. Without addressing the root causes of the conflict, peace will be untenable.
The late Dr John Garang made the observation that for lasting peace in Sudan, the political community had to be expanded. He called for a new political dispensation that was inclusive of all Sudanese. He called it the New Sudan. As early as 1986 Garang noted, “Under these circumstances the marginal cost of rebellion in the South became very small, zero or negative; that is, in the South it pays to rebel.” Without resolving the underlining issues, there will be an incentive for various groups to resort to an armed struggle.
Ensuring a durable peace in Sudan and South Sudan requires a new political imagination that shifts focus from exclusion to inclusion, broadening the bound of lived community, and embedding new reform within the wider society, giving it popular support. The violence will continue unabated so long as regional and international organisations continue to endorse a piecemeal solution, a selective engagement in individual mediation processes. There is an urgent need for a democratic decision making, comprehensive solution, and an inclusive framework in the two Sudans.
Dr Zambakari is a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia.