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       Monday, September 18, 2006

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Darfur Crisis Destabilizes Sudan Government

By William Church
Director, GLCSS

The continual confrontation between the UN Security Council and the Government of Sudan could have a lasting affect on the stability of the region. The end result may be a destabilized Government of National Unity and further alienation of the Khartoum government, within the same time period as strong a Islamic state developing in Somalia.

The resulting facts and events of the last five months—since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)—are unavoidable and unpleasant at the same time. Beyond the Secretary-General’s warning that the Government of Sudan will bear the responsibility for the consequences of the current humanitarian situation in Darfur, the facts support the view that this responsibility is shared by every member state of the African Union, members of the international community who failed to provide consistent support and funding to AMIS, and certain members of the United Nations Security Council who pushed a confrontational rather than a mutually negotiated approach.

The core discussion has been recast as a confrontation between the Security Council and Khartoum. Instead, the core discussion—beyond the obvious of protecting the people of Darfur—should be how to enforce the DPA and how the territorial integrity of Sudan can be maintained until a referendum takes place.

The African Union is a signatory to the DPA. It specifically requests the “AU and its international partners to ensure that AMIS has the appropriate force levels and resources including land and air capabilities to fulfill its mandate.” It is important to note that the Government of National Unity signed this agreement expecting the AU to support the DPA and maintain peace in Darfur.

However, during the Abuja talks it was also implied that there would be a transition to UN peacekeepers. In a reply to a critical report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the African Union wrote:

“During the Abuja negotiations fully one month was consumed with the AMIS Force Commander and security experts from AMIS, the UN and the US preparing an implementation plan for the security arrangements. To undertake the numerous tasks specifically required like additional forces, improved logistics, and a more robust mandate.”

This is direct evidence that the AU planned to enforce the DPA, and it understood its obligation. At the 11 September meeting of the Security Council, the Government of Sudan’s UN Envoy Yashir Abdelsalam asked, “According to the plan, 3,348 African Union troops would also be deployed. How can it be said that these forces were ignored?”

It has been widely discussed that AMIS was not equipped for this mission and needed additional support. The report by The Brooking Institution, Protecting Two Million Internally Displaced: The Successes and Short Comings of the AU in Darfur, detailed the shortcomings of AMIS; however, it also stated:

“The gap between rhetoric denouncing “genocide” and the actual financial aid logistical support given to AMIS is scandalous.”

The AU has also reported that President George W. Bush wrote President Omar al Bashir giving his “personal assurances” the US would do all that was necessary to ensure the implementation of the DPA. However, AMIS remains short of funds and equipment and the DPA not enforced.

When Rwanda President Paul Kagame met with President Bush earlier this year, President Bush disclosed that the money owed to Rwanda for its AMIS support had not been paid. US Ambassador John Bolton recognized this fact after a UN Security Council meeting on Darfur, when he stated that securing consistent funding for AMIS was a core problem.

Offers of AMIS funding have been rejected out of hand, and these events have raised significant questions about AMIS and the purpose of its transition to the UN. The Government of Sudan recognized that funding has been a problem and has offered funding. The League of Arab States has offered funding. Both of these offers remain underutilized and fuel the Government of Sudan’s suspicion about the Security Council’s motives.

The issue of AMIS transition to the UN is accepted by all members of the Security Council; however, at least three members question either the timing or other issues. It has been forgotten that the Government of Sudan accepted and hosted the UN’s technical assessment team that acts as a precursor to the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

The issue of AMIS support was once again raised at the 11 September Security Council meeting. The Republic of Congo Representative Gayama, whose country also heads the AU, stated:

“If the strengthening of AMIS is at this stage the best way to assess the degree of commitment of the international community to Darfur, it would be wise to take this opportunity to strengthen AMIS. The African Union would welcome such a development.”

Gayama’s request presents a solution to both the enforcement of the DPA, as originally intended, and to the stalemate confrontation between the Government of Sudan and the Security Council. The request is the best way forward for the people of Darfur because it reduces the tension between the Government of Sudan and the Security Council, and it allows time for both sides to rebuild trust and respect and examine the Government of Sudan’s core premise that if the DPA is respected and enforced there is no need for a UN presence. If this premise proves false, then a UN force would be the next logical step.

The current path of confrontation and suspicion of regime change goals can potentially destabilize the entire territory of Sudan. It has given an obvious platform to certain members of the Government of National Unity to display a level of dis-unity. It has raised the suspicions that this was the goal from the start, since the obvious path of AMIS forces enforcing the DPA has been ignored.

The destabilization of the Government of National Unity would be a disaster for the region and further weaken the support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with South Sudan. Sanctions against Sudan will only harm the citizens of that nation and promote the conditions for violence.

Any current assessment should include awareness that a strong Islamic government has taken hold of Somalia and that it may not be in the region’s best interest to push the leaders of Sudan away from cooperation and, instead, promote isolation. As the Chinese representative to the Security Council has accurately pointed out, threats of sanctions and immediate UN force deployment will only hinder negotiations with the Government of Sudan.

The lack of enforcement of the DPA has been one of the contributing factors to on-going civilian deaths and abuse of women. The ultimate responsibility must be a shared responsibility as will be the responsibility if the current situation escalates into lack of enforcement of the CPA and weakening of the sovereign territory of Sudan.

The Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies is a London-based think tank.

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posted by GLCSS at 1:17 AM  


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