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Robert B. Zoellick Q&A Session Following Speech

Question and Answer Session Following Speech

Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
University of Khartoum
Khartoum, Sudan
November 9, 2005

CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Zoellick, for this important and grand address (inaudible), for the remedies you have suggested, the many challenges that are facing the government and society at large to establish a lasting peace, and, as you have rightly said, to free the Sudan from the chains of the past. Mr. Zoellick has a very limited time, we welcome a few questions; please be as precise as possible and (inaudible).

QUESTION: Professor Abdul Malek, Department of Physics, University of Khartoum. I would thank the Deputy Secretary for his excellent and informative speech. But I take a view from his speech about peace agreements being signed and (inaudible) in the future. (Inaudible) Many peace agreements can be signed and (inaudible). In my opinion you can only sustain the momentum towards peace by safeguarding it by a secure democracy. Has the United States any definite ideas about helping the Sudan in re-instituting democracy as a safeguard for the purpose of peace, and what are these plans and ideas of the United States? Thank you very much.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, as you may know, one of the important elements of the CPA is that, while it begins with the sharing of political power through an allocation of an assembly under an interim constitution, it moves on to an election process. And that election process will start to take place after four years. So, the protections that you seek in terms of a democratic process are built into the CPA framework, which is all the more reason why it's important to proceed with the implementation of all the steps. As some of you may have seen, if you look at the CPA agreement, it's quite complex, it has many different elements, and that would be one of the challenges, is to maintain the course of implementation. But I'm pleased that last week the government announced the creation of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, that I mentioned in my speech. Because the CPA envisions that as the central oversight body to monitor whether these many, many steps are pursued. And I was pleased that the government agreed to have as the chair of it a former minister of development from Norway, Tom Vraalsen a person who knows Sudan well. And he'll be accompanied by a Kenyan, an American, and others that I hope can keep the process on track. So it's important to get that commission up and running. When I had a chance to talk to President Bashir and Vice-President Taha they mentioned that they hope that Vraalsen will actually be here next week, hope to get the other committee members set up so that it can have its first meeting before the end of the year. And I would encourage as soon as possible to get the full committee going because that will help press all the different elements.

Now, another part of the story is creating a Government of Southern Sudan. And right now, as you probably know, the Government of Southern Sudan has created its interim constitution, it's now going to be trying to create constitutions for separate states. But I think the key challenge here will be building a strong south within a strong Sudan. And that's one of the reasons why -- when I met Vice-President, first Vice-President, Salva Kiir, last week, and when I see him again in Juba later this week -- I'll emphasize that, while my country is committed to trying to help build a new Government of Southern Sudan, we also need their help to create a successful Sudan as a whole. Because otherwise one will never be able to deal with some of the problems like those in Darfur or those in the East.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) I must say that, the Sudanese people, although they have not been (inaudible) committed to the implementation of the CPA. It seems that the United States has been deeply involved (inaudible) the fighting groups could unite so that the peace talks can go well. This is quite good. But I think that, you might know that, neither the SPLM nor the main ruling party now in the Sudan, (inaudible). A lot of Sudanese, political and civil society, have been left out -- neither in the negotiation of the CPA, nor in the implementation, nor in the talks now going on (inaudible). Do you think that (inaudible), the SPLM and the National Congress, could reach a successful agreement in Darfur, leaving out all the other political factions and the civil society, and that this peace could be sustained in the future (inaudible). Don't you think that it is important to involve all the other political parties (inaudible) both in the implementation of the CPA and in the solution of the Darfur problem? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I think that's a very good point and let me expand on it for all of Sudan, and then for Darfur which you particularly asked about. We had encouraged the National Congress Party as well as the SPLM to approach the process of building a government in an inclusive fashion, and that has included some negotiations with the NDP, as you know, in the north, and even today, I was urging the government to follow up on some of our contacts with the Beja in the east, because I think the Beja are also ready to try to follow the path of peace. Similarly in the south, it's not just the SPLM. There are other groups in the south, and the south also has to pursue an inclusive political course. And when I was in Nairobi yesterday I had a chance to thank President Kibaki because the Kenyans, through the Moi Institute, have helped to increase the South-South dialogue. So you are precisely right. If this is going to work, it is really creating a whole different framework for the governance of Sudan. The first point is the one that I emphasized early in my remarks, which is that my sense of Sudanese history is, is that for many years you've had a capital in Khartoum, that was powerful, was the source of commerce, the source of the military, the source of the administration of governance, and it ruled the peripheries. Sometimes with a lighter hand, sometimes with a stronger hand, but it was a dominance of the center with the peripheries. What is striking about the CPA is, it offers a different political framework, first for the south, but also for other regions. And as the first questioner asked, ultimately (inaudible) to the political competition of democracies and parties competing for votes.

Now, let's move to the particular case of Darfur. When I visit Darfur tomorrow I'm also going to meet some of the leaders from the Reizegat, because I believe that, while today we are trying to provide humanitarian relief and working with the AU to provide basic security, that the next step is this peace process in Abuja. But that won't be the end of the story. That will then lead, I hope, to a process of tribal reconciliation. I've tried to learn more about the history of the various tribal groups in Darfur. And I was struck that over centuries, there was a process of cooperation, condominium among different groups that was developed -- very complex networks -- and one of my worries about the terrible tragedies in Darfur was that those ties would have been destroyed. But my sense is that the tribal groups have retained the strength and that it is important as part of the peace process to also encourage a tribal reconciliation. And then this must be linked to development as well. That's why institutions like these are very important because, as I'm sure the audience knows, many of these problems in Darfur started back in the 1980's with the drought and the conflict you had between agriculturalists and herders, and the fight over water. And so, one of the things that I suggested, as your question noted, when I was talking with the SLM leaders, was that if they agree to the ceasefire, and if they come together for peace negotiations, and we make serious progress, then we also need to look at the development component to set a goal. So, one of the reasons I wanted to come to this forum by the combined university is to emphasize what is the underlying theme of your question, which is the civil society, and developing an active civil society, whether it be press, whether it be NGO groups, whether it be the whole host of what creates a rich fabric. And ultimately all those need to participate in the Sudanese political process. But where we are now is the need to follow those steps of the CPA, create a peace process that will work in Darfur, and then, to me, the goal is to connect all this to a combination of political and economic development. Sudan has some additional resources because of oil, but as the Oslo conference certainly suggested, if people give up the path of violence, give up the path of trying to dominate from Khartoum, there will be a greater opportunity to get support in development and broader international acceptability, and that's why I'm trying to work so hard on this issue.

QUESTION: Mohamed (Inaudible), University of Khartoum. Thank you, Mr. Zoellick, for an American-style, informative talk. I have two questions actually. The first one is about the SLM conference in Haskanita in Darfur. The high-profile presence of U.S. administration representatives at that conference might suggest that the administration is supporting a split SLM (inaudible), I mean in spite of the efforts yourself and your colleagues have been doing in Nairobi yesterday and maybe today as well. If that's true, to many of us, a split SLM is a barrier for peacemaking in Darfur, rather than being a source of help and assistance toward reaching a political settlement in Darfur. This is one. Two, there seems to be a contradictory political conduct by the administration towards the broad-based National Unity Government in Khartoum and the southern government in Juba. And it appears that this administration is trying to endorse a de facto two independent states in Sudan and that might not lead to a united Sudan (inaudible) six years from now, or maybe (inaudible) by one party towards imposing, towards forcing a disintegrated Sudan, north and south. I don't know whether that, that's something seems to be taking place by the administration. Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: (Inaudible) Those are two excellent questions. And as for the first one, we did have one of the members of our embassy try to attend Mini Menawi's conference, because we try to keep aware of developments in different places in Sudan, but I assure you, you had a much higher level representative of the U.S. government trying to meet with the SLM factions, urging them to get together. So I think a Deputy Secretary counts a little higher than Ron Capps, [laughter] who has done good work for Darfur, I might add. But I think the key point for your first question is that I thought Ambassador Kingibe of the African Union hit the nail right on the head, which is that in discussing yesterday the need to bring the SLM together, he emphasized that neither the African Union, the United States, or other international partners will choose who the SLM leaders are. That's their job. They have to decide their leaders. But what we will say is that they need to get their act together, in his words. So that there can be a peace negotiation. So there are different ways they can do that. They can unify, they can have different groups come together on one negotiating position. Frankly that is less important than the fact that they need to give a chance for the peace negotiations to work in Abuja. And what we saw in the last round was the splits among the SLM making it impossible to make progress. Now, I won't stop with the SLM. It will be important for the government to be responsible. But the government really hasn't been tested yet, because of the SLM's inability to come together. What I urged today and mentioned in the speech, is that I think it will create a better context for peace if that government delegation represents the Government of National Unity, has members from the Congress Party as well the SPLM. And has a joint position. And I was told today that's exactly what the national, the Government of National Unity is seeking to do. If so, that will send the right message to rebel groups in Darfur. And as you know, there's also the JEM. But the JEM have seemed to be able to be more coherent on their position. And so my key message yesterday was that people are dying in Darfur, while people are bickering over their political position in the SLM. And it is their decision, it's not ours, it's not the African Union's. But they need to come together to make this peace process work.

Now, your second question dealt with what, the North and South? I'm very glad you asked that because I think this is a tension inherent in the CPA and I want to be very clear about our view on this. Now, I truly believe that for the Government of National Unity to be a success and for the CPA to be a success, the south needs to get stronger so it build its confidence. It's very hard to work together with a partner that is weak and uncertain. But as I said in the speech today, the south also has an obligation to support the Government of National Unity and support the process of a unified Sudan. And that was one of my messages to the ministers I met today that were both from the Congress Party and SPLM. It was one of my messages to Salva Kiir in Washington and when I go to Juba in two days it will be one of my messages there. So, it partly goes back to this gentleman's question. We're dealing with some very harsh legacies in this, and one of the legacies is that every place outside Khartoum has suffered and has a loss of confidence. And I think that there's a pull between a desire of the peripheries to achieve equality and respect with Khartoum, versus a pull to go their own way. As you know, the CPA itself sets out an option for a going their own way in 2011. But my personal view is, it would be far, far better to have a unified Sudan demonstrate that all the people of Sudan can benefit from the democracy to be created and from the development process. And the case of Darfur is a good example. I think if we can get the SPLM to work together with the Congress Party, it presents a stronger and more trusting face to the people of Darfur and the rebels. And similarly with the Beja and other groups. So these are elements that many years, as you know, many centuries to overcome. But I think, that's why I complimented the negotiators of the CPA, they've accomplished something significant here. It's going to be up to all of you to make it a reality. And if you're committed to it, then we and other international partners will support it.

QUESTION: Thank you very much (inaudible) between stopping war and bringing peace. Stopping war can be negotiated between the warring parties, but bringing peace must be negotiated between the people of the Sudan. Nobody should be excluded, because exclusion will not help in implementing peace, (inaudible) have to be resolved in a very comprehensive conference, where all the problems can be negotiated at one time, (inaudible). My question is, do you think that to solve the problems of Sudan (inaudible) a very comprehensive forum where everyone should be included in order to solve all the problems of Sudan, rather than have forums in the south, in Darfur, in the east, and other parts of northern Sudan. Because I am sure we will be looking for other forums (inaudible) and people will have to take up arms (inaudible.) Thank you, sir.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, I think you've raised a very important risk about people turning to violence [audio problem] (inaudible). Can you hear me? I also and I think all of you, have to operate in the world of practical reality. When I deal with problems globally, one can try to address all of them globally, or one can try to address them one by one with a framework that allows others to come together. I spent the past four years as America's trade minister dealing with the World Trade Organization. That started with a small group of countries and now has 148 economies. It's a framework that one can grow to. And I think, given the trauma and the tragedy in Sudan in the past years, the CPA offers that framework. It doesn't say it will be done in the same way. And as the first questioner asked, it's a very important element that after four years one moves to an election process. That creates an internal competition. People will have to reach out for voters in all of Sudan. And that is different than a pure political power-sharing aspect. So what the CPA did, and I think this reflected the practical sense of its negotiators, started out with power sharing because that was the way to end the 21 year civil war that left millions of dead. It created openings for others to join in that power-sharing to be negotiated. But it moved on to an election process which allows every vote to count, to be contributed. And that's one reason why I think all the parties, the SPLM, the others in the south, have their obligation to make this work for all of Sudan. The Congress Party does because the weight of the past clearly left Sudan as an international outcast with loss of development support and loss of life all throughout the country. So I think that process has to be built on. And one reason that I've been encouraged is that, as I learn more about other aspects of Sudan's more moderate history, I learn that institutions and universities like this developed. And that there actually has been a vibrant life of different groups. We need to give that an opportunity to find more space. Later this afternoon, I'm going to lead an inter-religious dialogue to try to emphasize this. So I don't mean to pretend to remotely understand all the complexities of what is a very ancient and complex society. But I do think the framework that, after all, was created by Sudanese, offers the best opportunity to move forward. And I definitely agree with you about the difference between stopping violence and creating peace. And some of that will only be done by building trust, and that's why some of the steps that I tried to emphasize today and on other visits are to overcome sad legacies of the past by building that trust.

QUESTION: Thank you (inaudible). As we approach this true democracy (inaudible). Now, all the political parties here, have their own militia groups. And this has encouraged the continuity of war, and of war by proxy. This is a CPA that is very clear understanding how the National Congress and the SPLM can (inaudible) But up to now they have not done so. (Inaudible) achieving peace even in Darfur is going to be very difficult achieving peace in the south. The militias have not been disarmed by both parties (inaudible). So the problem we are facing is how do we disarm our proxy groups (inaudible) and to enjoy democracy, and to join the world community, for business and try to (inaudible). I wish the international community could give us some clue of how we go about stopping war (inaudible) use of the peacekeeping forces, whereby the U.N. peacekeeping forces under Chapter 7 should disarm these armed groups, but at the moment (inaudible) we are using Chapter 5 and Chapter 6.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I'm going to make two points about your question. The first is a very important one for all of you to hear. And that is, there is a lot of outside interest in events in Sudan. But I've dealt with international issues of a variety of types over some 25 years. I was the lead negotiator for the United States in the unification of the two Germany's in 1989-1990. And I've dealt with trade, arms control issues, and one lesson that I've learned is that if the people of the country are not committed to make it happen, outsiders can't do it. Outsiders can help, outsiders can make suggestions, outsiders can share their experience, but it's got to be the people on the inside. And so, I am encouraged by many of your questions because I hope you will develop this debate within Sudan in broader dimensions. But let me start with your first point about (inaudible) second part of your question. The Comprehensive Peace Accord, as you probably know, has the establishment of a joint defense board and then integration of the joint integrated units. And that's one of the points I called for in my address. I was told today, that the government now has legislation to establish that military force. That when the assembly reconvenes, I believe next week, that they will be submitting this and they will try to push it forward. Now, let me give you an example of why that is so much more important than just north and south. As we consider the problems of Darfur, and we think about units to help keep the peace there, the African unit is trying to do the best it can, but it's got about 7000 soldiers and police people in a very large area. If your orientation is Europe, it's about the size of France. If your orientation is America, it's about the size of Texas. And so, frankly, there's a need for more help. So one possibility that I discussed today and discussed with Salva Kiir, is if you create joint integrated units and move beyond (inaudible) armies of north and south, those units being able to help provide peace because they won't just be associated with the government of Khartoum, they're associated with the new government, the Government of National Unity, including former SPLM soldiers. So it's an example of how the new institutions, created under a Sudanese model, can help you with other problems in Sudan.

But there is a remaining question related to the militias, and I think, on this one, I think this will be one of the toughest problems for Sudan to cope with. Because it has a very long history. The Janjaweed were first employed against the south, as many of you know, in the 80's and as one article referred to it, counter-insurgency on the cheap. And it's unleashed an extremely dangerous force. And one has to question, once that force is released, how one gets it back. But one of the items that I discussed today, as part of the UN resolutions, is that there must eventually be a disarming of that force, and that disarming will only occur, in my view, once the government is successful in creating its monopoly in terms of military power and represents this new Sudan -- a Sudan that is committed to a Comprehensive Peace Accord and a democratic process. But for that to succeed, it's going to come back to the first point I mentioned, the support of the Sudanese people. Because there are going to be people that want to support militias because it represents the fragmentation of power. And it's going to be important for all of you, who speak for a different vision of Sudan, to stand up and support this process.

Now, your question about chapter 5 and chapter 7, see, puts the test by saying, will the outside world come and clean this up? I don't think we can clean it up. Because it's not just a question of ending violence, it's a question of creating a context for peace. It's a tribal war, that has been exacerbated by other conditions, and frankly, I don't think foreign forces ought to get themselves in the middle of a tribal war of Sudanese. They may be willing to help keep the peace, as they are in the south, as part of the UN mission. But it's the obligation of the Sudanese to end their own conflicts, and then to help others, help if need be with the peacekeeping, as the UN mission is, the AMIS mission in the south, or we can on the development side. But, we've seen in other parts of the world, and Sudan, of all places, as a former colony, should be keenly aware of this. Sometimes you bring in foreign troops, and you create a different problem; sometimes the foreign troops become the target and it distracts people from the real need. The real need here is for people to stop, exactly as you said, warlords and militias, to negotiate peace. The outside world is willing to help protect the ceasefire to make that work. It's willing to support the political process and its willing to back it with development. But eventually these have to be Sudanese decisions. And if there is any thought I want to leave you with, it's really that one. In my country, as you probably know, the cause of Sudan has tapped a deep wellspring of interest in my country. People who are normally not interested in foreign policy. So they are going to be frustrated because they see these bad things, but they don't see a resolution. I believe there's a pathway here. But it has to be pursued by the parties that negotiated, backed by all of you.

QUESTION: (inaudible). My question is, even if you accept the CPA (inaudible), what are you going to help the opposition parties (inaudible)

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: That's another (inaudible) question. What my country has done, with other countries around the world is draw on institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy, which includes the National Democratic Institute, the National Republican Institute, other countries have similar forums, to help countries that are starting the process of democracy, to have the benefit of our experience. Now, in saying so, each country has to find its own path. But we have provided, with other countries, aid support and additional contact with institutions like this, to offer that help. And one of the legacies of Sudan's humanitarian crisis is that you have a lot of NGO's in this country, and the NGO community and the non-governmental organization community does as well. They often help in terms of developing political structures, as well. So, and frankly, this is the role of universities like this one. Because the more you create a civil society, the more you start to create cohesion outside of official circles. So, I hope we can move beyond the immediate problems of today to offer support on the type of issues you raised, to help build an effective political structure and grassroots political participation.

I want to just close by thanking the two universities. I learned from, actually some professors from Europe and the United States that studied here in the 80's, what a tremendous foundation this institute and these universities have laid. And that in many cases the work that you did in development studies was quite path breaking. But in a way I was delighted when I had the opportunity to come here because I wanted to make this larger point. The peace process will only be successful if it's connected with the development process. Many of you know those issues far better than I or my colleagues will. So I urge you to participate in this as well. And I urge you to contribute to the very complex needs of Darfur, the areas to the east and others. Because I really do believe there is a chance here for something significant. But it's on the edge. And it could go either way. And the reason I've come back four times is to keep pushing, but at the end of the day, it's going to as I said, depend on the people of Sudan to make it happen. So thank you.

Released on November 14, 2005


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