For two weeks now, the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) based in Rumbek, South Sudan, has been prevented from carrying out its important work. Khartoum has denied flight access to the CPMT despite the regime’s clear obligation to provide such access under the terms of the March 2002 agreement brokered by US special Sudan envoy John Danforth. This agreement stipulates that Khartoum and the SPLM/A shall:
“assist and facilitate [investigative] visits, grant unhindered flight access, and ensure that there is no obstacle to these visits taking place as soon as possible after the report of the alleged incident has been received.” But yet again, Khartoum has simply refused to honor the terms of a signed agreement. Despite a number of reports of attacks on civilians in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile during the past two weeks, the CPMT remains grounded in Rumbek, unable to investigate because Khartoum refuses to grant air flight permission (the only means of travel in this region). Perhaps some may believe that the CPMT should fly in any event. But only those who have not read the CPMT’s February 6, 2003 report could reach such a conclusion. The report notes chillingly: “On 30 January 2003 the CPMT teams, while physically on-site at Leer [Western Upper Nile], were denied access to the military garrison camp despite repeated requests for this access to verify the Government of Sudan version of alleged attacks by the [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement]. Additionally, at the same location, a senior Sudanese officer told the team the CPMT aircraft would be ‘shot down’ by his forces if it overflew the garrison.” This points up yet again the extraordinary difficulty in arriving at any meaningful agreement with the National Islamic Front regime, and where the real problem lies in the Machakos peace process.
Eric Reeves [April 1, 2003]
Northampton, MA 01063
The denial of permission to investigate highly credible reports of attacks on civilians by Khartoum and its militia proxies is all too revealing of the difficulty in negotiating with the regime. Perhaps convinced that the war in Iraq has diverted US attention from the crisis in Sudan, or perhaps just behaving in character, Khartoum has begun to violate the terms of both the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) agreement (March 2002), as well as the recent “Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding on Cessation of Hostilities” (February 4, 2003). This latter agreement was necessitated by Khartoum’s massive violations of the October 15, 2002 cease-fire agreement during its January 2003 (and ongoing) military offensive in the oil regions of Western Upper Nile.
The February 4, 2003 “Addendum” specifies the creation of an international Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT), whose mandates have been folded in with those of the CPMT. The language creating the VMT stipulates that both Khartoum and the SPLM/A (the “parties”) will “permit free access to such [a] Verification and Monitoring Team to travel in and around areas where a complaint had been filed by any of the parties.” So Khartoum’s present denial of access to the CPMT violates not only the March 2002 agreement, but also the February 4, 2003 agreement.
It should be clear to all who will only look that Khartoum is a serial violator of signed agreements. There is quite literally no agreement it has ever kept or observed with any integrity. The task in the Machakos talks is not so much to generate new agreements and signatures, but to find mechanisms—guarantees and guarantors—to insure that agreements that have been reached are kept.
For even now Khartoum, in addition to violating the CPMT and VMT agreements, continues to violate other terms of the October 15, 2002 cease-fire agreement. Many barges continue to redeploy significant offensive military assets down the Nile River; such redeployments are specifically prohibited by the October 15 agreement. Khartoum has removed its forces from none of the newly created military garrisons it established along the oil road south of Bentiu after October 15, despite its clear obligation to do under the terms of the February 4 agreement. And Khartoum has continued construction work on this oil road through the present, despite the clear language of the February 4 agreement: “To suspend work on the Bentiu-Adok Road until the final, comprehensive Peace Agreement is signed.” Violation of this latter agreement has been established by the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team, including on dates subsequent to February 6, 2003, publication date of the last major CPMT report.
All this forces some obvious questions for those organizations and nations that have lent their credibility to these agreements, including IGAD, the UN, the US, as well as various European countries—particularly those working to end Khartoum’s “Item 9” human rights status at the conference of the UN Human Rights Commission, presently meeting in Geneva (the effect of such a change would be to reward Khartoum by removing the mandate for a UN Special Rapporteur for Sudan):
Why should Machakos be regarded as more than diplomatic game-playing, with the people of southern Sudan as the perpetual victim? Why should the people of southern Sudan regard agreements negotiated at Machakos as having any more meaning than those that Khartoum is egregiously and serially violating? What guarantees and guarantors will be offered to make newly negotiated agreements more likely to be observed than those of the past?
With every violation by Khartoum that passes without consequence—or that leads merely to a new agreement, or an “addendum”—the peace process looses both credibility and viability. One would have thought this lesson might long ago have been learned by those trying to deal with the National Islamic Front; but the international community seems either a painfully slow learner—or simply not interested in learning at all.