Sudan: Peace Agreement around the Corner?
Snyder, Charles R., DISAM Journal
[The following are excerpts of the testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa of the House International Relations Committee, Washington, D.C., March 11, 2004.]
We have been supportive of the Sudan peace talks because we wanted to advance U.S. interests to promote human rights, counter-terrorism, and regional stability. From the outset of these negotiations we have made clear that our policy is based on three pillars, all of which must be achieved in order to begin the process of normalization of relations with the government of Sudan. These are: achievement of a just and comprehensive peace settlement; unrestricted humanitarian access and respect for human rights in all areas; and full cooperation against terrorism. I would also like to address our shared concerns about the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Darfur in western Sudan.
The road to peace in Sudan has been long and hard. With the support of the Congress, we have made substantial progress. The framework on security issues and accord on wealth sharing are major accomplishments that have given the process momentum. The parties are close to a final peace agreement, but the issue of Abyei poses a large challenge and significant power-sharing issues remain to be resolved. Over the last year, international monitors, funded and supported by the United States, confirm that there has been a measure of peace in much of the south unprecedented in recent decades. People have begun to live rather than simply trying to survive. Tens of thousands of displaced persons have returned to their homes in the Nuba Mountains as a result of the cease fire there brokered by the United States and Switzerland.
Implementation of any peace agreement reached between the parties will pose major challenges. U.S. leadership will be essential to mobilize international support for next steps including international monitoring in close cooperation with the United Nations, assistance for reconstruction and development, and continuation of critical humanitarian assistance programs.
Achieving peace in Sudan is one of the Administration's highest priorities in Africa. Accomplishing this requires a set of comprehensive accords that address the legitimate grievances of southerners while establishing a national democratic framework leading to fundamental change. As we near the April 21, 2004 determination on the Sudan Peace Act, I would like to update the Committee on the current state of play in the negotiations between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement and the Sudanese government. First I would like to take this opportunity to commend the efforts of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for its leadership of the peace process. I want particularly to express our appreciation for the tireless, dedicated mediation by General Lazaro Sumbeiywo.
Our objective is to achieve a Framework on the Outstanding Issues by the end of the current round of negotiations March 16, 2004. Since the current round began February 17, 2004 the parties have been engaged in difficult discussions regarding the three marginalized areas:
* The Nub Mountains,
* Southern Blue Nile, and;
They have resolved most of the issues related to the Nub Mountains and Southern Blue Nile, and both sides believe that the remaining questions on those two areas will be satisfactorily addressed. Abbey poses a larger challenge. The central issue is whether the traditional Nook Dinka inhabitants of Abyei will be allowed to determine their political future. The Sudanese government continues to resist a commitment to popular consultation for the Ngoc Dinka and has expressed concerns about the impact a solution in Abyei could have on northern stability. The United States has made clear its position that such popular consultation is necessary, and we have been working with the parties to urge resolution of this issue. Our Troika partners, the United Kingdom and Norway, and we have all explored creative ideas with the two sides, but, so far, they frankly remain unable to resolve the Abyei issue. …