Monday, October 15, 2007

Failure means disaster

Oct.15, 2007

Failure means disaster in Sudan

The world had heaved a sigh of relief when the Khartoum government and former dissidents in southern Sudan signed the so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. It put an end to 21 years of war in southern Sudan and signalled a conclusive solution to the longest conflict in Africa that had caused gross misery and agony to the people of the area. Beyond that the conflict, which is said to have killed at least two million people and displaced millions more, sapped Sudan's resources and blocked the country from exploiting its natural resources.
Last week's decision by the former southern rebels — represented by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) —  to suspend its participation in the government of national unity citing of a deadlock with the National Congress Party over implementation of the CPA has dealt a serious blow to the optimism sparked by the 2005 agreement.
One of the key reasons cited by the SPLM is the failure on the government's part to withdraw the army from the south as called for in the CPA. Others included charges that the government is stalling on deciding on the fate of the disputed oil-rich region of Abiye and "the evolution of democracy in Sudan."
There is no escape from seeing the development coupled with the escalation of conflict in the western region of Darfur ahead of crucial talks to be held in Libya this month on ending the crisis there between Darfurian dissidents and the government in Khartoum.
Any destabilisation of the south of Sudan would immediately have an immediate and adverse impact on the efforts for a solution to the Darfur conflict and could seriously set back the painstaking process led by the UN, and that would in turn mean more suffering for the people of Sudan.
Seen in a broader perspective, it would seem that vested interests are at work seeking to derail hopes of peace in Sudan after decades of conflict and recovery of its people from misery.
A ray of hope was raised on Saturday by the announcement that the UN's top official in Sudan, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, was visiting fthe southern capital Juba for talks with the SPLM on the crisis.
Hopefully, the UN official would be able to make the SPLM realise the dire consequences of its decision and persuade it not to go ahead with it while the world body would also intervene with the Khartoum government to address the concerns of the southerners in an equitable manner.
There has to be absolute and unquestionable commitment to the CPA on the part of everyone, whether the government in Khartoum or the southerners. That should the ground rule without compromise.
No party involved could afford to be passive in the quest to find an immediate solution because failure would turn the situation in Sudan far more uglier than than the case was before the 2005 agreement was signed.