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Sudan: Prospects for Peace

Sudan: Prospects for Peace

Michael E. Ranneberger, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Providence Committee on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC
December 9, 2004


Ladies and gentlemen: It is an honor to be with you tonight to discuss U.S. Africa policy, particularly with respect to Sudan and what we believe are. historic prospects for peace. I thank you for your timely invitation.

U.S. Policy

Nowhere has President Bush's strong interest in Africa been more in evidence than on Sudan. He focused early on Sudan, appointing former Senator John Danforth as his Special Envoy five days before September 11, 2001. The Administration's policy remains based on the following:

* We want to see a comprehensive, just peace settlement that will be applicable to the entire country. Ending the conflict in Sudan will contribute to regional stability in the strategic Horn of Africa, and will send a positive message to the people of the Middle East that even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved. * We have made clear to the Sudanese government that we expect it to cooperate fully against terrorism. Sudan is on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Bringing about a peace settlement with a revised constitution and bill of rights which protect the fundamental freedoms of all Sudanese will result in democratic change and a more moderate Sudanese government, and complement efforts to enhance cooperation against terrorism. * We want to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to all needy populations in the country. Achieving peace will help end massive human suffering and promote human rights.

These elements apply to the crisis in Darfur as much as they do to efforts to achieve a north-south peace agreement. The two situations are inextricably related, and must be resolved in tanJcm. There arc two tracks, but they must lead to the same place: peace and change in Sudan.

Sudan demonstrates one truism about conflict intervention: that it can only work if the parties themselves are committed to achieving peace, and if the countries of their region are willing to work for peace. That is why we have, from the outset, supported the African-based and African-led negotiations under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). At the same time, we are providing strong support for the African Union efforts in Darfur.

North-South Peace Accord

With our strong support, in large measure due to the leadership of former Special Envoy Danforth and our current Senior Representative Charles Snyder, enormous progress has been made toward a north-south accord. He laid the basis for progress through his efforts to broker a ceasefire in the Nuba Mountains and to put in place a U.S.-supported Civilian Protection Monitoring Team. The six protocols signed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, taken together, constitute resolution of all the major substantive issues. The Machakos Protocol addresses the issue of religion and the state, and the right of the south to a referendum on secession. The protocol on political issues lays out parameters for the sharing of power and contains a "bill of rights." The wealth-sharing protocol details arrangements for sharing oil revenue and other national resources. The security protocol provides for establishment of integrated forces, and for the preservation of separate forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. The protocol on the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile delineates autonomy provisions for these special areas. The protocol on the disputed area of Abyei provides for a referendum on whether Abyei will remain part of the north, or become part of the south.

During recent months the parties have been negotiating on remaining details with respect to a formal ceasefire agreement and modalities to implement the protocols. The devil is, of course, in the details, and these discussions have taken too long. It was for this reason that the United States, during its presidency, convened the UN Security Council in Nairobi last month to press the parties to commit to conclude a comprehensive peace accord by the end of the year. This they did in a Declaration signed before the UNSC. Vice President Taha and Chairman Garang have just resumed direct talks in Nairobi to sort out remaining differences over how the SPLM's separate forces will be paid, and with respect to the currency mechanism for distribution of oil revenues. President Bush called President Bashir and Chairman Garang before the Nairobi meeting to urge rapid movement. Indications are that the two sides expect to sign the peace accord by December 31.

Darfur

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, in western Sudan, remains grave. The situation in Darfur became a cloud on the horizon when the rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) - launched their insurgency in 2003 in response to years of marginalization of the region. As a result of the conflict, by the end of that year the situation in Darfur had begun to deteriorate seriously. But the full enormity of the crisis only became apparent earlier this year. I joined a team of senior State and USAID officials in February who visited Darfur to assess the situation. Flying over Darfur and seeing mile after mile of scorched earth and villages in flames was a sobering experience and highlighted the horrendous nature of the crisis.

As soon as the dimensions of what was happening in Darfur became clear, the U.S. acted. We were the first country to insist that the Darfur crisis be brought before the UNSC. The President spoke out publicly. We dramatically increased humanitarian assistance. We brokered a ceasefire agreement between the Sudanese government and the

Darfur rebels in April, and followed up to put in place the monitoring agreement with the African Union. Secretary Powell visited Darfur in June and demanded that the Sudanese government cease support for the Arab "jinjaweid" militias and stop the violence. He conveyed a specific list of steps for the Government of Sudan to take. When the GOS did not comply, the United States sponsored two resolutions in the UNSC calling for imposition of punitive measures if the violence did not cease.

We have focused tremendous efforts and resources on Darfur, and have spoken out. Based on the facts, Secretary Powell in September condemned what is taking place in Darfur as genocide. His determination has helped focus international attention on the problem and has energized our friends and allies to intensify their efforts. We and others are insisting that those responsible be held accountable. The U.S. won UNSC support for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry that is now conducting an investigation of the situation in Darfur.

Unfortunately, the crisis in Darfur has persisted, and at least 70,000 have died, and two million have been displaced within Sudan and as refugees fleeing to Chad. The jinjaweid, with GOS support, continue to commit unspeakable atrocities against civilians. At the same time, the Darfur rebel groups continue to violate the ceasefire. We are intensely aware of this reality, and we are taking the steps that we believe will end the violence.

* The U.S. has provided over 40 million dollars to support accelerated deployment of the African Union mission, composed of troops and observers. We are encouraging the African Union to fully implement its expanded mandate to proactively monitor the ceasefire and other agreements reached on Darfur through patrolling and protection of civilians under imminent threat. The AU has already deployed over 800 personnel, and plans to ramp up to 3,200 by early next year. The accelerated deployment and expanded mandate will increasingly have an impact in constraining training violence by casting a spotlight on what is happening, and through action on the ground. The AU, however, faces a major challenge in tamping down violence in an area the size of France. * The U.S. is the largest humanitarian donor, having provided almost 400 million dollars in aid; the presence of a growing number of international relief workers on the ground coupled with the humanitarian aid is helping to ameliorate conditions for many of the almost 2 million people affected by the conflict. Violence is, however, limiting access, and much more must be done. * The U.S. has made Darfur one of its highest foreign policy priorities. We are waging an intensive diplomatic effort not only in concert with the broader international community, but also directly with the Sudanese government and the rebel groups, and in support of the African Union-mediated negotiations in Abuja. * Finally, bringing the north-south negotiations to closure, with our strong support, is key to ending the violence in Darfur. Both Vice President Taha and Chairman Garang will have a strong interest in resolving the situation in Darfur in order to ensure that their own accord can be effectively implemented. It is also important to note that the autonomy and federalism provisions in the north-south accord will be applicable to the entire country and will provide a basis for a political settlement in Darfur. In this context, it should be noted that the Darfur rebels went to war over political and economic marginalization by the central government.

We could well face a situation in which we have historic progress on the north-south while the situation in Darfur is violent and chaotic. Once the north/south accord is signed, we must move ahead expeditiously to support implementation. At the same time, we must use the signing of a north/south accord as momentum to end violence. Ending the violence will be essential to enable smooth implementation of the north/south accord on a nationwide basis. The Government and the SPLM also know that the assistance they expect for reconstruction and development is unlikely to flow as long as violence persists in Darfur. The process of returning internally displaced to their homes, promoting reconciliation of conflicts based on centuries-old enmity between Arab nomads and African farmers, and working out the details of a political settlement will take longer.

A Multilateral Effort

The progress made in the north-south negotiations and the efforts to resolve the crisis in Darfur highlight a major collaborative effort between the United States, our allies, and African leaders. It is an intensive multilateral initiative that has been too little recognized as these issues have become a significant subject of domestic debate. At the outset of our efforts we formed, with the United Kingdom and Norway, a Troika to bolster support for IGAD-led efforts. We encouraged early planning with the United Nations on support for implementation of an eventual north-south accord.

Cooperation has been even more intense on Darfur. There are literally daily calls with officials of the European Union and key member states to coordinate support for African Union efforts in Darfur, and for diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis. We have welcomed into this collaborative effort the Australians, Japanese, Egyptians, and other interested countries. Again, the vital point is that we are supporting African-led efforts. There is also scope for collaboration with moderate Arab countries.

The leadership demonstrated by IGAD and the African Union is impressive and reflects the extent to which African organizations are becoming effective mechanisms for conflict mitigation. It would be hard to understate the importance of this development for the future of our relationship with Africa, and for the future of Africa itself. Under the strong leadership of Nigerian President Obasanjo and former Malian President Konare, the African Union has recognized that the effectiveness of its mission in Darfur is an irrevocable test of its credibility. The multilateral effort underway reinforces the efforts of the African Union. It also positions us to work with the African Union on a broader shared agenda to promote good governance, economic liberalization, and trade and investment.

Implementing Peace

These multilateral efforts include preparations to support implementation of a north-south peace accord, and to provide necessary assistance for a post-conflict Darfur. Over the past year donor countries have had a number of meetings to begin coordination in preparation for a donor pledging conference that would be held following the achievement of peace. The United States will almost certainly be the largest donor of humanitarian assistance, and of aid for reconstruction and development.

Ensuring effective implementation of the north-south peace accord is essential to bring about fundamental democratic change. Part of this will be done through the United Nations and a substantial chapter VI peace-monitoring operation. The U.S. and other donors will, however, have a heavy responsibility to use aid to promote good governance and transparent sharing of resources. Appropriate conditionality of donor assistance can help to put in place effective accountability, specifically anti-corruption efforts.

Equally important, the UN and the donors have a particular responsibility to help ensure that all political groups eschewing violence have the opportunity to participate in the political process. One of the greatest dangers to the consolidation of peace will be the potential fragmentation of the political process - in the north, in the south, and in other areas of the country. The international community must encourage political forces to work together to support implementation of the peace accord. We have a clear message to key countries of the region that they must be supportive, and avoid any temptation to act as spoilers.

Sudanese leaders themselves bear principal responsibility for making the process work. They will take ownership in part through the establishment of their own Assessment and Evaluation Commission to monitor implementation, as called for in the Machakos Protocol. Their leadership coupled with strong international assistance holds out hope that the unity of the country can be maintained - a goal that they say they share and that the international community supports.

The process will not be easy. In many respects, implementing the peace accord will be more challenging than negotiating it. The parties have deferred significant issues to be worked out during the six-month pre-interim period. The constitutional revision process will have to be carried out. And the two sides will have to reach out to other political forces in the north and the south in order to sustain a viable and credible political process.

As national leaders working for peace, Vice President Taha and Chairman Garang already share a heavy responsibility to work together to end the violence in Darfur - a point we have repeatedly made to them. The signing of a north/south peace accord will put the spotlight intensely on them to get results in Darfur. Ending the violence there is the immediate objective, and they must use all their influence to accomplish this. We also expect them to facilitate a rapid political settlement in Darfur. It is difficult to imagine the international community hosting a donor conference with Darfur in flames.

Normalization

The signing of a north/south accord and the ending of violence and atrocities in Darfur would meet our conditions to begin the process of normalizing bilateral relations. While I do not want to spell out today all the precise steps and timing, I do want to reaffirm our commitment to normalization. We will move forward expeditiously. Removal of the various sets of sanctions on Sudan will be tied both to specific legal conditions (for example with respect to Trafficking in Persons and the State Sponsors of Terrorism List) and to the parties' good faith implementation of their accord (especially governance provisions).

As the parties move ahead to implement their accord and as Darfur stabilizes - and as a result normalization proceeds - the infusion of international assistance will help revive the Sudanese economy. Sudan's petroleum, hydroelectric potential, and agricultural potential augur well for a strong economy that will be attractive for U.S. investment. We hope that a peaceful Sudan will emerge from its status as one of the poorest countries in the world and will in the coming years become one of the economic engines of Africa, along with South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. A Sudan that is peaceful and no longer isolated by the international community will also play an important role in promoting stability in the strategic Horn of Africa, and will continue to cooperate in the global war on terrorism.

The vision of a unified, democratic, prosperous Sudan that fully respects human rights would have been unthinkable until very recently. Responsibility for the future of Sudan rests with Sudanese leaders -- and importantly their African counterparts as well. But they and the long-suffering people of Sudan will need our support to rebuild their war-ravaged country. The American people should know that we are intensively engaged.

The Administration's efforts on Sudan reflect our broader goals in Africa to promote conflict mitigation, to foster good governance, to support economic liberalization and growth, and to combat terrorism. Our efforts on Sudan reflect the importance we attach to advancing these in large measure by enhancing our relationship with African regional organizations, most importantly the African Union. Their agenda meshes with ours and gives the Africans themselves the ownership that is vital to success. Sudan also exemplifies an effective multilateral effort driven in large measure by the United States. Sudan may soon embark on a promising journey to join the modern African trend toward democracy and economic growth. We must be realistic about the difficulties ahead, but also see the potential for historic change. As so often is the case, hope and despair hang in the balance. The longsuffering people of Sudan deserve our utmost commitment and our prayers. There is reason to be hopeful. [End]

Released on December 14, 2004


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