Things took a strange turn in Addis Abba at the AUHIP's Strategic Consultation Meeting when a Roadmap Agreement was delivered to the Sudan government's opposition in the middle of the night followed by a warning the next morning from AUHIP Chairman, Thabo Mbeki, to sign it or face international sanctions.
The Strategic Consultation Meeting, scheduled for March 18-21, 2016, was expected to be an opportunity for the opposition and the government, in consultation with the AUHIP and other members of the international community, to develop a strategy for ending violence in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile, securing the delivery of aid by the international community to war-affected populations, and setting up the preparatory meetings that would establish the confidence building measures necessary for the opposition to participate in a national dialogue process. Instead of a strategic consultation meeting, the AUHIP delivered its Roadmap Agreement already signed by the government and by Mbeki.
The Roadmap Agreement was rejected by the opposition, in part, because they refused to be forced to recognize what the International Crisis Group described as "an empty 'national dialogue' process with little prospect of significant outcomes." Just two months ago, former U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Amb. Princeton Lyman, visited Khartoum and while noting that participants in the dialogue approached certain issues with "vigor and earnestness", he went on to say, "that at the heart of the problem...there has not yet been a commitment to a real democratic transition, especially by the ruling authorities." Amb. Lyman's colleague, Susan Stigant, Director of Africa Programs at USIP, who joined Lyman in Khartoum, noted that the dialogue has not been "sufficiently inclusive" and recent actions by the government to restrict political space "runs directly contrary to the supposed purpose of the dialogue."
The European Union, apparently thrilled that a recalcitrant government signed something and keen to demonstrate its uncritical support for the AUHIP, issued a one-sided statement warmly welcoming the Roadmap Agreement as "an important achievement for the pursuit of peace in Sudan" and urging the opposition to fully engage with the process. The Troika issued a somewhat more balanced statement essentially recommending an addendum to the agreement requiring "the government to clarify its commitments regarding the inclusion of other relevant stakeholders in the National Dialogue and to uphold the results of any National Dialogue preparatory meetings" -- meetings which the AU Peace and Security Council supports per its communiqués 456 and 539, the opposition has repeatedly agreed to join, and the government persistently boycotts. The requested clarification appears to be designed to address some opposition concerns such as the exclusion of wider opposition groups, including members of the Sudan Call, from the proposed preparatory meetings and the need for guarantees that the outcome will be honored given the government's track record of back-tracking from agreements as it did when President Bashir reneged on the June 2011 Framework Agreement. Nevertheless, the Troika statement does not address the expectation that the opposition must acknowledge the current unilateral national dialogue and it fails to recognize the unfavorable environment in Sudan for an inclusive, transparent and credible national dialogue process.
At the end of the day, the Roadmap Agreement is just another step in what has been so far a dead end process. Regrettably, it does tell us something unfortunate about the AUHIP and it creates an unnecessary distraction when so much is at stake for the people of Sudan. Currently, the Sudan government has increased its ground attacks and indiscriminate aerial bombardment in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile and in Darfur, where at least 138,000 have been forced from their homes since mid-January per UN reports.
A recent letter, posted below, from 75 Sudanese, human rights organizations and scholars to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Chairperson of the African Union urges the UN and AU "to uphold existing UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council resolutions on Sudan and to hold the government of Sudan accountable for failing to cooperate." In addition and as a result of the irregular process related to the already failed Roadmap Agreement, it encourages identification of a "new, objective AUHIP team as part of its efforts to re-build confidence in a comprehensive peace process."
April 11, 2016
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moonSecretary General of the United NationsNew York, NY 10017
H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini ZumaChairpersonAfrican Union CommissionP.O. Box 3243, Roosevelt StreetW21K19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Your Excellencies,
We, the undersigned 75 people and organizations of the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur along with our friends, human rights groups and scholars from inside and outside of Sudan, write to protest the Roadmap Agreement that was drafted and signed by Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa and Chief of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), and signed by the government of Sudan.
The two signatories of the agreement, do not represent and have not protected or provided for the people of Sudan, and the agreement will not achieve a just and lasting peace since the perpetrator of serious crimes against the people of Sudan, the Sudan government, is not required to accommodate the concerns or urgent needs of its victims. Instead the agreement legitimizes a national dialogue process established by the government to maintain its brutal control of the country and its citizens and resources.
If the government were sincere about ending conflict and allowing humanitarian access to war-affected communities, it would stop aerial bombardment and ground attacks against civilians and it would allow international humanitarian aid into the country, as proposed by the August 4, 2012 Tripartite Proposal, which the government signed and sabotaged. If the government was sincere about an inclusive national dialogue process in order to achieve unity based on principles of freedom, human rights, democracy and equality, it would abide by AU Peace and Security Council Communiqués 456 and 539, which outline appropriate confidence-building measures for groups viciously targeted by a government that regularly signs and breaks agreements.
The peace you seek - that we all seek - in Sudan will not be achieved through a politically expedient agreement. Instead the Roadmap Agreement will only prop up and reinforce the crimes of a government that will continue to inflict grave harm on people who have suffered for far too long. It is clearly time for a change. We urge the institutions that you represent, the United Nations and the African Union, which are charged with promoting peace, security and stability on the continent and around the world, to uphold existing UN Security Council and AU Peace and Security Council resolutions on Sudan and to hold the government of Sudan accountable for failing to cooperate. In addition, we urge the African Union to identify a new, objective AUHIP team as part of its efforts to re-build confidence in a comprehensive peace process.
Act for Sudan, Martina Knee, Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA, USAAfrican Freedom Coalition, Al Sutton M.D., President, New York, NY, USAAl Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment & Human Development (KACE), Albaqir A Mukhtar (PhD), Director, Khartoum, SudanAmerican African Foundation Against Torture, Inc., Zainelabdin E. Osman, President, Schenectady, NY, USAAmerican Friends of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (AFRECS), C. Richard Parkins, Executive Director, Alexandria, VA, USABlue Nile Association for Peace and Development USA, Omer Abdelsawi Omer, Mulberry, FL, USABrooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan, Laura Limuli, Coordinator, Brooklyn, NY, USAChristian Solidarity International-USA, The Reverend Heidi McGinness, Director of Outreach, Denver, CO, USAColorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action, Roz Duman, Founder/Director, Denver, CO, USAColorado Episcopal Foundation, Anita Sanborn, President, Denver, CO, USADarfur Action Group of South Carolina, Dr. Richard Sribnick, Chairman, Columbia, SC, USADarfur and Beyond, Cory Williams, Co-Founder, Phoenix, AZ, USADarfur Bar Association, Abdelrahman Gasim Darfur Committee Organization, Mohammed Esmail, Member, Cape Town, South AfricaDarfur Interfaith Network, Martha Boshnick, Co-Chair, Washington, DC, USADarfur Leaders Network - DLN, Motasim Adam, Co-Founder, New York, NY, USADarfur Peoples' Association of New York, Motasim Adam, Secretary General, Brooklyn, NY, USADarfur Solidarity Group, Sabir Abu Saadia, Executive Director, Pretoria, South AfricaDarfur TV, Jacob Berry, FounderDear Sudan Love Marin, Gerri Miller, Founder and Coordinator, Tiburon, CA, USADoctors to the World, C. L. Perrinjaquet, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Breckenridge, CO, USAFace Past for Future Foundation, Abdelrahman Gasim Genocide No More - Save Darfur, Marv Steinberg, Coordinator, Redding, CA, USAHuman Rights and Development Organization (HUDO), Bushra Gamar Hussein, CEO, Kampala, UgandaIdaho Darfur Coalition, Marilyn Sprague, Co-Founder, Boise, ID, USAIngessena Youth Association (IYA), Paset Jatau, Managing Director, Blue Nile, SudanInternational Refugee Rights Initiative ( IRRI), Kafia Omar, Advocacy Officer, Kampala, UgandaInvestors Against Genocide, Eric Cohen, Chairperson, Boston, MA, USAJews Against Genocide, Sharon Silber, Co-Founder, New York, NY, USAJoining Our Voices, Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director, Baton Rouge, LA, USAJournalists for Human Rights - JHR- Sudan, Faisal Elbagir, Coordinator General, SudanMassachusetts Coalition for Darfur, William Rosenfeld, Director, Boston, MA, USANever Again Coalition, Lauren Fortgang, Co-Chair, Portland, OR, USANew York Coalition for Sudan, Eileen Weiss, Co-Founder, New York, NY, USANuba Christian Family Mission, George Tuto, Chairman, Denver, CO, USANuba Mountains Advocacy Group USA, Gogadi Amoga, Founder / Chair, Amelia, OH, USANuba Mountains International Association - USA, Kimi Elaiaiser, Chair, Lorton, VA, USANubia Project, Nuraddin Abdulmannan, President, Washington, DC, USAOperation Broken Silence, Mark C. Hackett, Executive Director, Memphis, TN, USAPeople4Sudan, Geneva, SwitzerlandPittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition, David Rosenberg, Coordinator, Pittsburgh, PA, USASan Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, Mohamed Suleiman, President, San Francisco, CA, USASave Darfur North Shore, Lakshmi Sirois, Founder and Chair, Ipswich, MA, USAShine A Ray of Hope, Carmen Paolercio, Director, New Rochelle, NY, USAStop Genocide Now, Gabriel Stauring, Director and Founder, Redondo Beach, CA, USASudan Advocacy Action Forum, Dr. Eleanor Wright, Moderator, Birmingham, AL, USASudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), Monim El Jak, Acting Executive Director, Kampala, UgandaSudan Sunrise, Tom Prichard, Executive Director, Reston, VA, USASudan Unlimited, Esther Sprague, Director, San Francisco, CA, USASudanese Marginalized Forum-USA, Magid Kabash, New York, NY, USAThe Center for Democracy and Peace, Sabri El Shareef, Director The Elsa-Gopa Trust, Nell Okie, Director, Madison, CT, USAThe Institute on Religion and Democracy, Faith J.H. McDonnell, Director, Religious Liberty Program, Washington, DC, USAThe Sudanese Community Church of Denver, Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, The Rev. Dr. Ayyoubawaga Oja B. Gafour, Vicar, Denver, CO, USAUnite for Darfur, Bahar Arabie, CEO, Gaithersburg, MD, USAUnited Sudanese and South Sudanese Communities Association (USASSCA), Dr. Henry Y. Lejukole, Chairman, Des Moines, IA, USAAhmed H. Adam, A Visiting Fellow, Institute for African Development (IAD), Cornell University, New York, NY, USAHamid Eltigani Ali, PhD, The American University in Cairo, EgyptDavid Alton, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Independent Crossbench Member of the House of Lords, Professor of Citzenship, Liverpool John Moores University, London, UKBaroness Caroline Cox, House of Lords and President, HART (Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust), London, UKWendy James, Professor Emeritus, Oxford University, Oxford, UKProfessor Mukesh Kapila, Former United Nations Coordinator for Sudan Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D., Executive Director, World Without Genocide, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, St. Paul, MN, USAHon. David Kilgour, J.D., Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaKhalid Kodi, Adjunct Professor, Boston College, Brown University, Boston, MA, USAEric Reeves, Northampton, MA, USAMahadi Saeed, Former UNCHR Field Coordinator Asst, PhD. Candidate, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South AfricaDr. Victoria Sanford, Director, Lehman College Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies, Bronx, NY, USADr. Gregory H. Stanton, Founding President, Genocide Watch, Arlington, VA, USAHenry C. Theriault, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Worchester State University, Co-Editor, Genocide Studies International, Worcester, MA, USADr. Samuel Totten, Professor Emeritus, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AK, USAElhag Warrag, Editor in Chief, Hurriyat NewsletterJohn Weiss, Director, Caceres-Neuffer Genocide Action Group, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USARoj Welat, Representative to Africa, Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), South AfricaAdeeb Yousif, Ph.D. Candidate and Graduate Lecturer, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) George Mason University, Arlington, VA, USA