Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The stability of Sudan is fundamental to the whole of the African continent | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Allow me to share with you my thoughts following my visit last week to Sudan, where I made a field trip to Khartoum and Darfur . I brought back with me three conclusions: the stability of Sudan has not yet been achieved; Sudan”s stability is fundamental to the entire African continent; and the international community, notably Europe, has a duty to act and to achieve results in Sudan.

The stabilisation of Sudan has not yet been achieved . Yes, the North-South peace agreement signed on 9 January in Nairobi was a major event. Peace has returned to the South after more than 20 years of civil war. A government of national unity, containing former rebels from the South belonging to the Sudan People”s Liberation Movement, was formed on 19 September. But this is still not enough. The new government in Khartoum must function as a genuine government of national unity. I am not certain that this is the case today.

I have called on the representatives of the former rebel movement, notably Salva Kiir , the first vice-president of Sudan, to continue along the path marked out by the late John Garang , who died on 30 July, a path leading to the construction of a new, united and democratic Sudan. The goal of the peace process cannot not be secession by the South. That would be a disaster for the entire region. To avoid that, the democratic Sudan desired by the Sudanese people must be created .

The stability of Sudan has been all the more uncertain since the

Darfur crisis erupted in 2003. This is a major crisis. Crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed there. It is the responsibility of the new government in Khartoum to resolve the crisis. It is an illusion to believe that there is a military solution. The only solution is political. Peace must be negotiated in Abuja, in the framework set out by the African Union. I appeal to the new government of Khartoum to form a common position for Abuja without delay . I appeal to the Sudan People”s Liberation Movement to talk to the rebels. I appeal to the rebel movements, who claim to defend the interests of the civilian population in Darfur , to come and negotiate in good faith in Abuja. Failing that, I fear that the war in Darfur will sweep away the Khartoum government of national unity, call into question the peace in the South that was obtained at such a high price, and set in train a regional crisis stretching from N”Djamena to Asmara, as President

Déby of Chad told me in N”Djamena, on my way back from Sudan.

Sudan”s stability is fundamental for the stability of the entire African continent. With Angola and, very probably, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan”s return to normality would make it possible to create, around South Africa and Nigeria, the framework for a new, peaceful and prosperous Africa.

I am certain that Sudan has the capacity to be a motor, amongst others, for Africa. It is the largest country in Africa. It has vast potential with its agriculture, its water resources and its oil. But Sudan”s greatest strength lies in its people. They are well trained and able. Sudan”s engineers and lawyers are in demand in the Gulf states and its musicians and writers are an inspiration to the entire African sub-region.

Above all, Sudan has the capacity to set an example not just to Africa

but to the Arab world. It is a country in which the Arab and African worlds merge . Its 572 different peoples have always defined themselves as being Sudanese. It is also a country where religions merge, where Animists, Moslems and Christians have always known how to cultivate tolerance. Finally, it is a country that has already known democracy.

Thus, Sudan, a country at the crossroads between the Arab and African worlds and between Islam and Christianity, can become a testing ground for coexistence and tolerance where democracy can be nurtured .

That is the reason why we, the international community, must remain engaged in Sudan. We must maintain our commitment and we must continue to demand results. The European Union is, of course, present on all fronts: political, economic and humanitarian. It has already mobilised € 570 million euros and is supporting, in Darfur itself, the efforts of the African Union monitoring mission; this support includes European officers – police and military – who are present on the ground. The European Union is working hard to persuade the Darfur rebels to come to the negotiating table in Abuja. The United States is playing a fundamental role in Sudan, and we must continue to work together. They have invested in particular in finding a solution in the South. The United Nations are involved, naturally, and are currently deploying a significant monitoring force in the South. We need the good will of everyone and we need to mobilise the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Finally, and above all, we must support the African Union, which is doing a great deal of work on the ground and is seeking to secure a lasting settlement of the crisis in Darfur . That is why the cooperation under way in Darfur between the European Union and the African Union, which I regard as exemplary, is so important and why it sets a good precedent for our relations in the future in other African theatres.