By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
March 13, 2010 (SSNA) — The comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that brought a halt to the north/ south two decades of civil war is already through a five years of a very difficult journey. The agreement is one of the few documents that have stood its ground in Sudan’s politics where much is said than done. And for the Inter Government (IGAD) to at last hold its first conference to assess the implementation of the CPA was a sign that, whatever was the reason for the five years silence from this regional body, it still remains keen on the progress in the Sudan.
IGAD can still pride itself for its indispensable role in the midwifery of the truce five years ago. This peace agreement have no doubt stopped the two decades civil war between the south and the north of the Sudan, although of course the real situation in south Sudan still remain far from being peaceful.
The CPA continues to be our road map out of the thickets and as H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit some two years ago put it, “the CPA is staggering like a drunken person but it is still holding”. And because the two partners differ very much on their approach to the implementation of the truce, everything so far done has been through a lot of hand twisting and feet dragging especially so from the northern NCP of president al Bashir. But was anyone ever expecting any better deal with the Arabs?
On several occasions in the past, the IGAD was expected to come in order to save the agreement, unfortunately it was only the US administration that got the credit for their timely interventions which helped the partners to continue holding to the agreement.
The African Union which right now has much on its plate is another regional organisation that is constantly struggling in its management of the continent’s endless list of problems. IGAD on the same level is not any better than the mother organisation in as far as tackling problems within its member countries. This is so because the way the African borders were drawn by the colonialists leaves no country free of the problems associated with inter ethnic conflicts. Even our immediate neighbours have failed to address the grievances of their various ethnic communities, which in some cases tend to extend across the national borders.
The situation in the Sudan can be simplified as a conflict between Arab Muslim north against Christian & animist south. To the southerners the best solution lies in having their own separate country which they can rule using a secular constitution. However since other countries in the continent do also experience similar but not exactly the same type of inter-racial and inter-religious problems, most of them are not in approval of south Sudan opting for a self determination.
We have neighbours who are scared to death by the mere mention of redrawing colonial borders, which in our case may rightly be the ideal solution to the chronic south/north problems of the Sudan. However for the fact that many parts of Africa are also homes to such artificial union states with one ethnic group dominating over the others, many other secessionist groups elsewhere in the continent are perceived to choose to go Sudan’s way should the south be allowed to secede.
The Sudan was in war with itself for the last five decades or so, a situation that makes it different from the other countries; there is a real need to look at this particular problem with much of an open mind.
Situations as they currently existing in the Sudan today warrant the consideration of all existing options; otherwise what would be the point of forcing a unity in a country when that unity can only promote endless wars, hatred and human misery?
People of various nationalities and religions across the world welcomed the CPA for the fact that it brought to a halt a bloodbath that operated for over two decades with two million lives lost. However there were crucial points in the CPA, of which the right of the south to self determination is the most prominent, that made it possible for the two warring sides to agree on the document. But for fairness sake it must be accepted without any partiality that all the rest of the concessions done were entirely at the expense of the southerners themselves.
The wealth sharing protocol was agreed to share south’s Oil revenues with the north at 50/50, while the south has no any rights on any of the several revenues generated in the north including their natural resources. This protocol says it all and injustice remains to stare us all in the face, especially so when it is now apparent that the north has cheating with Oil revenue figures for the whole of the past five years.
Secondly the southerners were made to accept to be under the Islamic Sharia Law while they serve in the national capital of the country, a must they had to abide with in order to carry out their duties in the government of national unity based in Khartoum the capital. And of course this can go on forever or ever get worse should the country continue to remain united.
Moreover in the IGAD’s first ever CPA evaluation conference, it became apparent that some of the speakers were more keen to express what has become known as their country’s official position, by continuing to preach what they call, ‘ the dangers of rushing the independence of south Sudan’. This very statement is in fact in breach of both the spirit and the wordings of the CPA itself.
This agreement as was signed five years ago, had as its central point the making of the unity of the Sudan attractive, whereas down inside, everyone else knows that given a chance at the referendum the south Sudanese will more than likely vote for independence. Yet that was the only way that an agreement would have been reached and as for now we are all required to abide by it, regardless of whether some people had hidden agendas at the time of signing.
However things were never all that smooth and in a direct response to the increasing regional pressure from countries like Egypt and Eritrea that the self determination process be placed on hold as the situation in the south is unstable, Sudan’s First Vice President and the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit made a clear statement on the issue at the IGAD meeting, when he stressed that everything should go as originally planned in the peace accord.
“The conduct of the elections is not a pre-requisite to the conduct of the referendum,” Kiir said. “The people of southern Sudan attach more importance to the referendum than the elections. For them the right of self-determination is one of their biggest political achievements in the CPA and they will defend it at any cost,” he added.
“I ardently appeal to you all that the CPA is fully implemented and as per its timetable. I urge you all to recognize and respect the choice of the people of southern Sudan during the 2011 referendum," he said.
Though Kiir is a hundred percent right in calling for the full and timely implementation of the CPA, it is not true that people of south Sudan are giving less importance to the holding of the elections and starting the democratic transformation.
South Sudan cannot afford to become another Eritrea or Zimbabwe and the way forward is only through the establishment of a democratically elected government thus initiating fair democratic traditions and creditable institutions that are all necessary for a good governance and rapid development for this war ravaged region. And as such there is no way that any group of non elected politicians can continue to wrongly assume public offices while our people have made it clear that they cannot be ruled against their wishes. The people are also aware of the fact that there is a need for huge changes that must be immediately accomplished lest we be forced into starting with a failed state right from day one of Independence.
On the other hand President al Bashir who now follows a strict travelling regime following the ICC arrest warrant against him for his roles in crimes committed in Darfur was represented at the IGAD, by the second Vice President Ali Osman Taha who reiterated his party’s (NCP) position for abiding with the CPA.
"While we re-affirm our unequivocal commitment to respect the choice of the people of southern Sudan, we clearly state that our vision and hope that unity of Sudan will be the free choice and outcome of the referendum," said Taha.
Whatever were the initial positions of the various members at the meeting, it emerged as very encouraging development that the IGAD ended the meeting by reiterating its commitment to the CPA and vowed to assist the two Sudanese sides in implementing the remaining articles.
The IGAD released a communiqué on the 9th March 2010, that amongst many other things, Urges the Parties to the CPA to remain committed to the implementation of outstanding issues in the Agreement, in particular, completion of the North-South and Abyei border demarcations, redeployment of forces, integration of the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), establishment of the Southern Sudan and Abyei Referenda Commissions and Popular Consultations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States; it also Urge the Government of the Sudan and the Parties to ensure the removal of all obstacles to a free and fair election.
And to make sure that we are going forwards the IGAD has resolved to direct the its Council of Ministers to liaise with the two Parties to give technical support in the remaining areas of border demarcation and establishment of the referenda commissions by May 2010; it also calls upon the two parties to develop a working formula that would ensure collaboration for the effective implementation of the CPA.
Of great interest is IGAD’s stress to welcome the Parties commitment to immediately commence the negotiations on post referendum arrangements and confirm the continuing availability of IGAD to support the process; as it also directs the IGAD Council of Ministers to immediately undertake shuttle diplomacy to nurture mutual trust and confidence building between the two Parties to the CPA.
Obviously as we are only left with a limited time, we also welcome the move to direct the IGAD Secretariat to immediately open a Liaison Office in Juba to follow up the implementation of the CPA. This very important bit in the implementation of agreement should have in fact been realised earlier which could have saved much in the way of timely interventions to help the two partners in their tenacious journey. However how good things are, all still boils down to the political wills of the sides involved and this IGAD Liaison Office in Juba, though late is still better than never.
We also believe that this regional organisation is bent to benefit by getting more involved in the remaining steps left in the implementation of the CPA. As such its decision to direct the IGAD Secretariat to operationalise the invitation to observe the April 2010 general elections in the Sudan and requesting the observer team to take their posts by end of March2010 is indeed a value for the huge money being spent on the organisation.
Finally this brings us to the conclusion that there is no way that south Sudanese can run away from facing their joint responsibilities towards the realizations of their peoples’ five decades of struggle. The long held dream is becoming a reality and like all realities they call for responsible people who can put down the policies that can translate every cry of need and want into a working plan. And it is only through democracy that the right leaders can be chosen and mandated.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” King Jr. Martin Luther
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B. Ch, D.R.H, MD. The Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The Party that stands for the Independence of South Sudan. He can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected]. All the articles of the author are available at www.nilebuffalo.com and blog http / / ussp-news.blogspot.com