The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) is a consortium of East African nations comprising Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Sudan. A number of years ago IGAD formed a Secretariat given over to the peace process for Sudan. It has been remarkably ineffectual, given the catastrophic nature of Sudan’s conflict. To date, it has but one notable achievement: securing from the Khartoum regime and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement agreement to negotiate peace on the basis of a “Declaration of Principles” (DOP). Central to the DOP has always been the key right of self-determination for southern Sudan. Now the IGAD Secretariat for peace in Sudan has apparently given up on self-determination. If this is true, then IGAD will have rendered itself utterly useless.
Eric Reeves [March 4, 2002]
Northampton, MA 01063
The draft of an IGAD document that appears to have been presented to both the Khartoum regime and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) is presently receiving wide circulation. Given the proposals contained in this “draft document,” it is not hard to see why. They effectively remove from the bargaining table self-determination for the people of southern Sudan.
Since southern self-determination has been the key element of the Declaration of Principles—indeed, the essential southern demand in the negotiating of a just peace—any abandonment of self-determination is in effect an abandonment of meaningful peace negotiations. The modalities of self-determination may be negotiated if Khartoum ever engages in good faith peace talks. But it is disastrous to attempt to deal away self-determination before negotiations have truly begun.
Equally troubling, and perhaps equally revealing of the geopolitics involved, is the status accorded to the so-called “Libyan-Egyptian Initiative” (LEI). The LEI, according to the “draft document,” is to be merged with the IGAD initiative and given equal status. But the LEI initiative has no international support or standing, and is transparently nothing more than an Egyptian diplomatic ploy to remove southern self-determination from the negotiating table. To be sure, Egypt is a regional power that can’t be ignored. At the same time, the Egyptians simply cannot be given veto power over a peace process that seeks to end the world’s most destructive civil conflict.
The real question at the moment is who stands behind this effort of scandalous “compromise.” It seems unlikely that the Kenyans, who chair the IGAD Secretariat for peace in Sudan, would on their own make a proposal that represents such a dramatic departure. But if not the Kenyans, then who?
Has the US, in the wake of the tattered Danforth mission, capitulated to Egyptian “quid pro quo demands” for cooperation on terrorism and support for the Middle East peace process? Is this the work of European nations with commercial interests in Sudan and a willingness to achieve “peace at any price,” even if the price is the consolidation of Khartoum’s tyrannical grip on power and ongoing, if slower motion, extermination in the southern oil regions? Consultation on the draft document seems to have been exceedingly narrow; indeed, it is not at all clear who had any prior knowledge of or responsibility for the drafting.
Answers about authorship here are needed very soon if the IGAD process is not to lose all credibility with the southern constituencies, all of which are strenuously committed to the right of self-determination. If in fact the IGAD process and the commitment to self-determination have been co-opted by US or European short-sightedness; if a “comprehensive cease-fire” has come to substitute for a just peace; if the people of the south are being abandoned because of larger geopolitical considerations; if any of these developments has come to pass, then the world must be prepared to see even greater destruction in southern Sudan. Instead of this myopic vision of peace, we will witness the terrifying reality of continued civilian destruction throughout the southern oil regions and other marginalized areas of Sudan.
These realities of massive destruction and suffering in the oil regions—directly and authoritatively tied to international oil development—are now every day being reported with more frequency and urgency by humanitarian organizations and other regional sources. Khartoum is clearly engaged in an unprecedented effort to “secure” the oil regions by means of scorched-earth warfare and aerial assaults on civilians. Humanitarian access is collapsing, Khartoum is prevaricating without consequence, and peace is more desperately needed than ever.
But the cause of peace will not be served by capitulating to Khartoum’s barbarism. The moment of truth for the IGAD process has arrived; those Western nations that support the process in its commitment to southern self-determination must not yield to expediency. If the “draft document” now circulating has indeed gone to Khartoum, this will powerfully encourage the regime to stay the course of obduracy. It will also make the task of regaining the confidence of southern constituencies that much more difficult.
Here, then, is what has reportedly been sent to both the Khartoum regime and the SPLA/M. It is in the form of a summary of the points in the IGAD “draft document,” released by a professional Sudan researcher from Nairobi—someone with long and extensive experience in the region, and who forwards this first-hand account with intense dismay:
“Self-determination appears to be redefined as self-administration.”
“Approach is one of two systems, one state.”
“Stresses the need to bring LEI and IGAD under one roof. This would ‘constitute a fusion of the two initiatives thereby presenting a firmer middle ground acceptable to all sides'”
“Expresses desire to extend the Nuba Mountains agreement to other areas and regions in order to achieve a ‘comprehensive cease-fire’ (without suggesting that this cease-fire should take place within the context of a comprehensive political agreement).”
“Separation of religion and state as referred to in the DOP has become redefined as ‘religious accommodation,’ presumably in support of the idea of a two systems, one state approach.”
“Parties should participate in workshops on ‘religious accommodation,’ self-determination, and wealth-sharing.”
“The entire focus of the paper is to pursue a process outside the DOP, which the parties have been committed to since 1994. Indeed, the special envoy has privately said that the focus now is ‘going beyond the DOP.'”
“There is no mention in the document of any role for the countries of the region, their Nairobi-based envoys, or the legal, political, and military advisors appointed to assist the Secretariat. And indeed, neither they nor any other Secretariat resource persons (with the exception of General Nkaisiri, a Kenyan and colleague of General Sumbeiwyo’s) have in any way been consulted about this document.”
Who is responsible for this affront to a serious, comprehensive, and unified effort to bring peace to Sudan?