August 8, 2003
The past twenty-four hours have seen a number of important developments and statements in anticipation of the scheduled resumption of the Machakos/IGAD peace talks in Nakuru, Kenya (August 10, 2003). Most significantly, the European Union, with the support of a great many European countries not part of the EU, has issued a strong statement in support of the Machakos/IGAD peace process and chief mediator Lazaro Sumbeiywo in particular. Though troublingly belated, the EU statement (text below) gives the peace process a significant boost. The US State Department, in a weaker and less helpful statement (text below), has also made explicit its support for the Machakos/IGAD process and General Sumbeiywo.
This comes as the International Crisis Group has today put out an aptly titled press release, “Five Minutes to Midnight in Sudan’s Peace Process” (International Crisis Group, Brussels, August 8, 2003; at www.crisisweb.org/projects/showpress.cfm?reportid=1084). The ICG notes,
“[T]he countries facilitating the process need to make clear the benefits of peace and the penalties of more war, notably the U.S., which has caused confusion by inconsistent statements. If this best chance for peace in twenty years is missed, the arms build-up on both sides suggests the war will become more deadly and destructive than ever.”
ICG goes on to note, all too accurately:
“Sustained U.S. pressure on the parties is the single most important factor needed at this point. Regrettably, recent public and private statements by American officials and the lack of high-level U.S. public support for IGAD’s proposals have sent potentially damaging mixed signals.”
It is precisely these “mixed signals” that have helped to create the present diplomatic impasse in the Machakos process. The impasse grows out of Khartoum’s repeated, unrebuked insistence that it will not participate in the final rounds of talks unless the Draft Framework presented last month on behalf of the Machakos/IGAD mediators is withdrawn. Meanwhile, the SPLM has today (August 8, 2003) again insisted that the integrity of the Machakos/IGAD process and the Nakuru Draft Framework be preserved:
“[A] spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Samson Kwaje, told Agence France-Presse that any changes to the document must be discussed between the two parties. ‘Our position is still that we adopt the Nakuru draft framework as the basis for negotiations. If there are any changes they have to be made as a result of negotiations between the SPLM and Government of Sudan.'” (Agence France-Presse, August 8, 2003)
This is in response to yesterday’s insistence by Khartoum’s foreign minister, Mustafa Ismail, that:
‘Peace talks will resume if the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) takes a new initiative providing for reasonable arrangements in the interim period,’ the minister, Mustafa Ismail, told Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram in an interview. ‘If not, or if the (new) initiative is not acceptable, the meeting due Sunday in (the Kenyan town of) Nakuru will not happen.’ (Agence France-Presse, August 7, 2003)
In short, the final pieces of the diplomatic scene have been put in place. Both the US and the European Union (as well as many other European countries, including Machakos “troika” member Norway) have declared their support for the Machakos/IGAD process and for chief mediator Lazaro Sumbeiywo. The SPLM/A has indicated its full willingness to participate in the continuation of the Machakos/IGAD process this Sunday, August 10, 2003.
The only question for the moment is whether Khartoum will in fact refuse to attend, will carry through with its threat not to participate further in the process that has, in the last day, finally received strong international support. But if Khartoum does not appear in Nakuru on Sunday, or appears only in order to reiterate its insistence that the Draft Framework be withdrawn, then the question will be rather different. The question at that moment will be whether the words of the international community mean anything, or whether today’s statements are simply convenient diplomatic cover issued in anticipation of the collapse of Machakos. Again, the International Crisis Group has put the matter forcefully:
“[T]he countries facilitating the process need to make clear the benefits of peace and the penalties of more war, notably the U.S., which has caused confusion by inconsistent statements.”
So far, there has been no indication of what penalties Khartoum will pay for collapsing the Machakos process. The US Sudan Peace Act, without capital market sanctions against oil companies operating in Sudan, will have no real effect even if its provisions are deployed fully by the Bush administration. Certainly we know that Khartoum will not respond to anything short of fully specified and fully credible punishments. Since the US already has imposed comprehensive economic and trade sanctions against Khartoum, the burden is clearly upon the European Union and countries in Africa. Today’s EU statement is a useful first step. But without credible, specific threats of economic and/or military action that the Khartoum regime clearly understands, these words will merely become part of the vast backdrop of verbiage that has inevitably left the people of southern Sudan and the marginalized areas to their own devices.
It is a moment of truth such as Sudan has not known for a generation. It is just as much a moment of moral truth for Europe and the US.
Subject: Sudan – Peace process
Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the peace process in Sudan
The European Union welcomes the resumption on August 10th of the IGAD-sponsored peace talks on Sudan.
The EU considers that time is ripe to strike the final compromises on the outstanding key issues and reach a comprehensive agreement to put an end to the conflict and to the sufferings of civilian population in Sudan.
The European Union calls on the Parties to work actively with the IGAD mediators led by the Kenyan Special Envoy with a view to achieve a comprehensive solution, based upon a strict observance of the rule of law and full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms to fulfill the aspirations for peace and prosperity of all the Sudanese people within a unified Sudan.
The European Union commends the pivotal role of the IGAD member states and particularly of Kenya for its facilitating role and reiterates its full and continued support for the IGAD peace process.
The European Union assures the Parties of its readiness to assist them in the implementation of the Peace Agreement and to accompany Sudan on a path of peace building, democracy and development.
The European Union welcomes the extension of the cessation of hostilities and of the Addendum on the Verification and Monitoring Team for a further three months and stands ready to support the monitoring mechanism.
The European Union urges the parties to fully abide by their commitments to signed agreements.
The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
August 7, 2003
Sudan: Talks Resume—Time for Agreement is Now
The United States is encouraged that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks on Sudan will resume on August 10 in Kenya, and that the parties to the Sudan conflict are continuing efforts to reach a comprehensive peace settlement. We remain committed to achieving a just and lasting peace in Sudan and believe that the IGAD peace process under the very capable leadership of the Kenyan Mediator, General (ret.) Lazaro K. Sumbeiywo, has made substantial progress over the past 14 months of consistent engagement.
The key substantive issues have now been put on the table. It is the responsibility of the parties to bridge the divide that separates them and to take the courageous decisions needed to reach a final agreement. As the U.S. Special Envoy, John C. Danforth, has made clear, the time to reach an agreement is now; the Sudan conflict has lasted far too long.
The United States has intensified its engagement in support of the IGAD process through increased senior-level involvement and the provision of additional resources and personnel.
[Released on August 7, 2003]
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