The security Protocol signed lately between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) arouse the question whether it would promote peace in Sudan after a civil war lasted for many years or not. The question was the main concern of a forum called by Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in “Ibn Roshd Saloon” under “The security protocols, do them lead the Sudan to Peace?”
Dr. Iglal Raafat, professor in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science and responsible for the Sudan Committee in El-Wafd party, started the forum by pointing that the factual circumstances in Sudan, and the recent agreement arouse the question whether the government would accept a vice president from the South; and a committee including the North, the South, and the Sudanese National Democratic Alliance which includes major rebel sections.
She also pointed that the last security Protocol involved separation between the two armies, north and south, forming an integrated force from both of them and relative decrease of both armies. She added that the opposition parties look with suspicion at assuming that this joint force would be a core for a national army. She pointed to the fact that the Sudanese Army now is not a national army because the majority belongs to the rescue front.
She asked whether the public defense armed forces would easily accept sacking themselves according to the security protocol that stipulates disbanding militias. Dr. Iglal said that affirming the cutting down of armies and some of the Northerns’ denial after the final agreement refers to discomfort within the Sudanese army about the matter.
She pointed that the negotiations track reveals that the Sudanese opposition acts only as an observer. It is not clear that the opposition moved to be an active partner in executing the final agreement. This, she says, is naturally to be a problem discussed more widely in the north than in the south.
Dr. Iglal raised the issue of election transparency, and how difficult it is as money controls it, government owns its tools, and the public opposition depends on foreign funds. All of this means that the problem is limited in the opposition.
She said that some issues have not been discussed yet such as the justice of development, ethnic tensions, Islamic extremism in the North that can, according to Dr. Iglal, go to the extent of threatening to kill any Moslems speaking about the National capital.
She added that some other issues need to be considered such as resettling refugees, rebuilding villages which were destroyed, providing jobs and living opportunities for the residents of theses villages.
In the beginning of his speech, Commander Hamdi Gaafar, branch president of the Sudanese National Democratic Alliance in Egypt, said that the Alliance had not said its word clearly about what is happening, and the last security Protocol. He said that he is speaking from the viewpoint of an opposing military expert. Starting his word, he reviewed the development of circumstances in Sudan since the civil war.
Gaafar moved to the security Protocol pointing that it considered each of the status of the two armies in the north and the south, redeployment of forces, and size of involved forces should be determined equally by the government and the SPLA with a joint leadership authority. This authority makes decisions by consensus, and coordinates between the two armies.
Commander Jaafar considered the security Protocol helps the Sudanese government manipulating as it ignores the issues related to police and security. He said that the Protocol supports the North dictatorship because it urges all the northern forces to go under the government cloak if they want a share in the authority.
He warned that the suggested integrated forces will be given a special sign within the armed forces contradicting what happens in the usual armies. They also would be given a special uniform which would make them more similar to denominational armies. This would create a dangerous discrimination leading to a crisis.
Jaafer added that there are four armed forces in Sudan, and disregarding any of them in agreements might mean continuity of war in any minute. And the security protocol did not deal with this problem.
He pointed that the existing of two military forces in one nation implies a dangerous trend and could cause civil strife; because each leader would back have bias in favor of his section, implying that the armies must be under one leadership, and reaching consensus in decision is something difficult in army matters. He explained that the complete American democracy goes with the wind when national security is in risk.
Jaafer said that the rescue government got rid of the military association, and sacked thousands of officers. Now the existing army represents the national Islamic front, and it goes without say that the joint forces would be different from the forces and calibers of this front.
He referred that the military doctrine is derived from the constitution or faith. It is very fundamental, dangerous. It is also a model for the country. He asked about how the pure Islamic ideology reconcile with a thought aiming to New Sudan.
Jaafar demanded structuring a national military association representing all powers, sections, areas in Sudan. He referred to the misrepresentation in the Sudan Army as most officers come from north, but soldiers and minor officers came from the west or the south.
Magdi El-Naim, the executive president of Cairo Institute and organizer of the forum, saw that the stance taken by the Arab countries towards Sudan was not clear. In fact, some countries had a role in increasing the conflict. He also referred that the Arab League started with the new leadership to look differently to issues like the conflict in Sudan. Lately the Sudan was placed in its agenda asking about the plan the League has for promoting peace in Sudan.
In the beginning of his speech, Sameer Hosny, director of African Department for Arab-African cooperation in the Arab League, referred to the importance of the existing of two representative of the two parties who signed the Protocol (agreement) in Sudan in order for its image to be complete.
He said that the Arab League welcomed the peace protocol as a step towards ending the struggle. He appreciated that the final peace agreement has been really realized by signing this Protocol. As for the rest of issues, there is no big conflict because they have reached agreements about them.
Hosny pointed to the fact that the Arab League is absent from the negotiation arena in Sudan. However, it is not absent from the Sudan cause. He ascribed the league’s absence from the negotiation to several reasons; one of them is that neither party had insisted on the League’s presence in negotiation, not even as a monitor. Though the League wanted to make this role, and offered specific demands in this respect but received no replies except nice words, and welcome from both government and the SPLA.
Another reason he added is the doomed failure of the joint Egyptian-Libyan Initiative, and its moving from politics into history. In his opinion, the initiative failed because it had overlooked what all the people of Sudan had agreed upon concerning self-determination right. It also lacked many implementation tools that would grant it success e.g. a separate fund.
The third reason of the League’s absence in his opinion is its disregard to the Sudan cause before Amro Mousa’s holding office as a general secretary of the League. He bore with him the Sudanese file from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He added that the League welcomed Mashakos Protocol and saw the important issue is that Arabs should work for making the unity of Sudan the proposed option. In this respect, the League offered the Arab leaders a plan, and a ministerial committee has been formed to monitor the peace process in Sudan and give it an impetus towards achieving the national reconciliation between north and south; this would have positive reflections on the unified or even non-unified Sudan. He also said that the League called several meeting in which it expressed that the Arab political will is careful about the unity of Sudan, and that the Arab countries have a specific and active role in developing the South in order to make the unity an attractive option. Sameer Hosny referred to choosing Dr. Nadia Makram Ebeed as the general secretary’s personal messenger in Sudan. This reflected a kind of interest in the Sudan affairs. Hosny said that the current relationship between the Arab League and the SPLA is a good one. He also pointed that the SPLA wanted this relationship as much as the League wanted, and both parties benefited from that. He referred to Amro Mousa’s reception to Garang, and introducing the latter as a leader careful about the unity of Sudan.
Hosny assured that the Arab League wants, even insists on being a main part in implementing and monitoring the final peace agreement. It also demands the same from both parties and the member countries in the League. He said that the League still wonders about the reasons why it has been excluded as a main party in the negotiations.
Concerning the League’s developmental efforts, He referred that the Arab countries prefer providing the financial support to Sudan through bilateral relations, so they can be used effectively in a political way. Although Beirut summit decided founding Southern Sudan fund, the fund had received only minor contributions. Three conferences were held in which funds were raised from Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. The end result was expanding all projects offered by the Sudanese government to include other areas not limited to the South.
Hosny assured the important of reviving and encouraging the Arab civilian society to work on the southern Sudan, and promote fraternal relationships between Sudanese and other Arab cities. He said that the non-governmental organizations in the Arab societies have the responsibility to be on the stage of the Sudanese affairs. He urged them to launch specific projects in Sudan and search for fund resources as applied in funding many other issues. However, he also assured that the civilian society had already been heading to serve Sudan compared to the governments.
In her concluding word, Dr. Iglal Raafat wondered whether the Arab League’s interest in southern Sudan was a mere support of the Egypt’s interest or not. She commented that she personally disagrees with the formal Egyptian viewpoint concerning the south right of self-determination, assuring that all are for the voluntarily unity. However, there remains an inevitable question: If the south, after the six transitional years, chose separating from the north, does this necessarily mean harming the Egyptian interest?
She answered that the separation would not be harmful provided that the Egyptian relationship with southern Sudan would be better than now, especially that most of SPLA members have received their education in Egypt. In addition, Egypt had nothing to do with the war in the south.
She sees that the problem started when Egypt adopted a formal stance against the Self-determination. She stressed the importance of correcting that mistake and establishing good relations with the south. She also said “I don’t think good relationships with the south would harm Egypt’s water as it is the case with Kenya and other countries.”
Commander Hamdy Jaafar assured that the National Democratic Alliance sees the SPLA with the leadership of Garang as an indigenous sector. The Alliance has no objections to what happens in Mashakos Protocol. The Alliance welcomed it, and delegated Garang to represent it and all sects in Nairobi. However, he expressed his concern that the last agreement might lead to more fractioning to the Sudan cause. He pointed that it is constitutionally unacceptable for only two sects to represent a nation full of miscellaneous ethnics, races, and cultures, and the building of a real Sudan needs all these sectors to be represented.
Sameer Hosny mentioned that his speech involved a direct criticism to the Arab League’s role in Sudan in the past. So, he urges the League to exercise a larger part in Sudan. He said that the League was absent when none of the powers such as the UN, the the African Union (AU), IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development ) and others-which are now on the Sudanese stage- were not there. At that time the problem was the ambiguity of what the Sudanese government wants.
Hosny referred that the efforts exerted to hold a Sudanese national accord under the auspices of the Arab League were doomed to failure for many reasons. He assured that whatever the League had done, it is not worth excluding or isolating from Mashakos Negotiations.
This post is also available in: العربية