His Excellency Mr Thabo Mbeki, (Chairperson)
African Union High Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP)
c/o The African Union Commission
22nd April 2013
I am writing to thank you on behalf of the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) for the follow up that the African Union High Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP) has given to our letter to the Panel dated 8 March, 2013.
We believe that civil society organizations can be essential and non partisan partners in the achievement of just peace, accountability and democratic change in Sudan. The principles facilitating the engagement of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) with AU institutions are embedded in the foundational mandates of the AU Commission, the Economic, Social and Economic Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC) and with respect to peace and security matters within the AU, the Livingstone formula.
We therefore welcome your acknowledgement of the potential contribution of independent civil society to the work of the Panel. As the Panel itself recognized in its February report to the AU Peace and Security Council, we believe that “[e]nding the war in the “Two Areas” cannot be achieved without putting in place inclusive national political arrangements, which will remove grievances that fuel Sudan’s crises” (Report of the AUHIP, Pace and Security Council, 353th Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13 February 2013).
The Panel’s analysis that Sudan “continues to face the historical challenges of managing its diversity, nurturing democracy and promoting equitable development” and that “democratic, transformation remains the urgent task of the Sudanese leadership in all its manifestations, which will continue to need Africa’s unwavering encouragement and support”, is one we share. In this context we deeply appreciate the mandate which the Panel has been given, inter alia, with respect to the democratic transformation of Sudan and are ready to contribute in any way required to the achievement of this joint goal.
We regret therefore that we have been unable to be present as observers at the commencement of the negotiations but stand ready to attend if such an opportunity arises. Indeed it is our hope and aspiration that the AU mediation and the parities would see the benefit of allowing stakeholders other than the belligerents to make their voices heard and to have their analysis of the root causes of the conflict inform the agendas of the meeting and the search for solutions.
The currently ongoing fighting between the breakaway faction of the Justice and Equality Movement that signed the DDPD agreement in Doha and the main faction of the JEM is a telling example of the concerns that we are aware the AUHIP shares: that partial solutions to Sudan’s multiple and deeply rooted conflicts would inevitably lead to factional fighting among rebel groups and as a result cause further civilian killings and displacement. The record of partial peace agreements in Sudan since the 1990s to date, including the 2006 Darfur peace Agreement, and the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement has consistently shown that the multiplication of negotiation platforms and resulting partial agreements could only lead to the worsening of Sudans choric instability and further divisions in the country instead of facilitating its return to lasting peace and reconciliation.
We sincerely hope that the negotiation processes mediated by the AUHIP between the two Sudans and between Sudan and the SPLM–North would not add to this cumulative destructive record of missed opportunities. SDFG advocates for a comprehensives and inclusive peace process that would address all of Sudan’s multiple conflicts and the chronic problem of governance in one process instead of the current splintering of the negotiation forums and political processes seeking to end Sudan’s multiple wars and political crises. Such an approach would require unifying the negotiation tracks and political processes for settling the worsening the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan/ Nuba Mountains states in one process. That process must also address the requirements of peaceful democratic transition in the country to end the dangerous stalemate in the national political arena, divided as it is between a severely weakened ruling party and equally ineffective political opposition weakened by more than two decades of divide to rule tactics of the ruling party. Victims groups and civil society organizations should be given the opportunity to contribute to the search for lasting solutions. A key factor for its success is the productive collaboration among the AU the UN, and the full cooperation with other international and regional actors with influence on the situation.
A further requirement for the effective peace process we envision is comprehensive: it should be one that resolves the requirements of peace, justice for the victims, and reconciliation among the communities torn apart by decades of war in comprehensive solutions that address the root causes of conflict. These are clearly linked to structural injustices in the governance of Sudan and until these injustices are resolved the country will continue to face credible risks of state failure.
We need not go further than the recommendations of the AUPD’s 2009 report on the situation in Darfur to find an excellent model of such an inclusive approach to resolving Sudan problems. The AU Peace and Security Council adopted these recommendations in its meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja in October 2009 and mandated the establishment of the AUHIP to see to their implementation. By adopting the AUPD’s recommendations the AU Peace and Security Council mandated a comprehensive and inclusive approach to the achievement of genuine peace and justice in Sudan.
SDFG would urge that the beginning of the talks between the GoS and SPLM-North be informed by this broader holistic framework, which will strengthen the implementation of UN SC Resolution 2046, and allow the negotiation genuinely to address issues of governance and marginalization, in addition to the pressing humanitarian and human rights dilemmas of civilians in the Sudan’s multiple conflict zones.
We would be very grateful for your consideration of this letter.
Monim El Jak