Introduction As Sudanese from all walks of life anticipate the historic referendum on national unity scheduled for 2011, it is an appropriate time for the international community to reconsider its expectations and assumptions about Sudan’s likely future by reexamining the lens through which it views two salient aspects of the country’s post-independence experience: state-making and war-making. Sometimes, it is the simplest truths that are most useful. Dr. T. Lindsay Moore of Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies has perceptively observed that all policy prescriptions are ultimately based upon some instrumental theory about how the world works, whether implicit or explicit, proven or unproven. One who proposes to end military conflict through negotiated settlement assumes that all combatants will ultimately be willing to accept some end-state that is short of total victory. Likewise, an advocate for the privatization of a public utility usually believes that the opportunity for profit will incentivize contractors to deliver cheaper, more efficient services than could government. In this essay, I build on Mohammed Ayoob’s theories of state-making in the developing world to make the argument that contemporary Sudan is both a byproduct and captive of the Westphalian model of statehood inherited from Europe. I […]
The results of the state assembly elections raise important questions about Sudan’s electoral process and the strengths and weaknesses of opposition parties in particular regions of the country. To no one’s surprise, NCP and SPLM dominance in the state assembly elections was similar to what it was in the National Assembly elections. In the North, NCP candidates won 91 percent of the state assembly seats, and the SPLM secured 87% of the seats in the South. However, several aberrant victories occurred in certain areas, raising questions about party proxies, traditional party appeal and accusations of systemic fraud. Some of the more unusual wins occurred in Darfur, where opposition parties had more wins than they did in any other northern state. The Popular Congress Party (PCP) won four seats in South Darfur, which were the party’s only wins in any state assembly. The PCP also won three National Assembly seats in South Darfur and came close to winning the gubernatorial election. Looking more closely, the party accumulated the second highest number of votes in most of the National Assembly races and many of the state assembly races, indicating that its support in South Darfur is not isolated to certain areas. For […]
West-end of the Border is a book documenting the lives of refugees taking shelter at camps along the Chad-Sudan border, all the way from Abeche to Bahai. The stories were documented on the immediate aftermath of the height of violence in Darfur during 2003-2004. The reason why this book is out today is because these stories still linger on the flimsy line in the desert between the two countries, with the situation worsening for the families in camps. Peace negotiations often mention IDP presence, however the refugees are hardly represented. It is a complicated matter, refugees. How should the central government deal with them? Faced with the question, it is best left unanswered for the common bureaucrat. No one in their right mind would push at an answer either with so much on one’s plate in terms of the unrest still going on in Darfur, the uncertainty in Sudan ever continuous. Repatriation and resettlement are complicated matters. Not to be tackled unless absolutely necessary. West-end of the Border is an attempt to keep a promise to those who shared their stories in their makeshift shelters. Sad as it is the stories are still there five years later.
Southern Sudan may be little more than a year away from possessing state sovereignty. The immediate policy focus on the challenges of holding the referendum in a credible way and ensuring that its outcome is accepted and acted upon, should not make us overlook the political science questions: why does sovereignty matter? For whom is it important? And how has it changed? A recent book by Pierre Englebert, Africa: Unity, Sovereignty and Sorrow, (Boulder CO., Lynne Reiner, 2009) opens up an interesting debate on sovereignty on Africa. He addresses two puzzles. One is why African states endure even when they fail to deliver on the basic requirements for serving their populations. There appears to be a lack of sanction for wholesale administrative failure: states persist even when they demonstrably lack even a basic capacity for good governance. The classic case is Somalia: perhaps the world’s most dysfunctional state still possesses legal sovereignty over a territory that includes Somaliland, where there is a functional governance apparatus that has tried and failed for nineteen years to obtain international recognition. The second puzzle is why there are so few separatist movements in Africa. Quite apart from the familiar challenges of ethnic diversity within […]
The necessity of transitional justice in Kenya and the merits of certain institutional mechanisms in particular have been vigorously debated in this forum, as well as within the country itself. In both of these contexts, the perspectives of victims of past violence have received only modest attention.
President Thabo Mbeki, speaking on Africa Day at the Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute, emphasized a necessary precondition if Africa is to claim the 21st century, namely, “the need for Africa to recapture the intellectual space to define its future, and therefore the imperative to develop its intellectual capital!” The text of his presentation is available here: Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture First among the six steps identified by Mbeki, is to nurture and build Africa’s intellectual cadre, including “to rebuild and sustain our universities and other centres of learning, attract back to Africa the intelligentsia that has migrated to the developed North, build strong links with the intelligentsia in the African Diaspora, and give the space to these the time and space they need to help determine the future of the Africans.” He appeals for the reinvigoration of the African Renaissance Movement, that was prominent a decade ago but which has fallen by the wayside subsequently. As with material goods, Africa is a primary producer of intellectual resources, and also a consumer of finished intellectual products, but makes little contribution to the value that is added in between. Much (perhaps most) African intellectual production occurs under northern (American and […]
PRESENTATION BY PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI, CHAIRPERSON OF THE AU HIGH LEVEL IMPLEMENTATION PANEL FOR SUDAN TO THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL: UNHQ, NEW YORK: JUNE 14, 2010. Mr President, Distinguished Members of the Security Council: We would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to engage the Security Council on the issue of Sudan. As Your Excellencies will recall, the last time we were here last December we informed the Council that the African Union had expanded our mandate to follow up on its decisions on Darfur, on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the process of democratisation in Sudan, and indeed our Panel has been doing what it can to honour this mandate. In this regard I am happy to inform the Council that by common agreement, our Panel works in close cooperation with three institutions which are playing a central role in assisting the people of Sudan to resolve their problems. I refer here to UNAMID, UNMIS and the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, all of which are correctly represented at this meeting, and will address the Council. I am certain that there is no need for us to convince the Council about the […]
Sudan’s electoral system allocates 25% of seats in the national, southern Sudan and state assemblies for women. That’s a progressive system. It has some unexpected effects – for example the majority of the PCP representation in the national assembly will be women from South Darfur. The majority of the voters were women. But in the new Government of National Unity, of 35 cabinet ministers, there are just two women. Amira al Fadil is Minister of Welfare and Social Security, and Halima Hassaballa al Naim, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. That’s disappointing to say the least. Of the 42 ministers of state, there are six women, including Grace Datero (Foreign Affairs), Teresa Sirisio (Communications and Information Technology), Amna Dirar (Labour), Fadwa Deng (Environment, Forests and Urban Development), Sana Hamad al Awad (Information) and Su’ad Abdel Raziq (General Education). That’s a slightly better but still well below par. And of no woman has yet made it to the top of the key ‘sovereign’ ministries or into the presidency.
Djibrill Bassolé, chief mediator at the Doha peace talks, had a plan: a ceasefire between the hard men, which meant focusing initially on JEM among the armed movements; then a coalition of SLA splinters—ideally with Abdul Wahid, but if necessary without; then civil society, to give a stable core to the process. So where are we today, almost two years after Bassole was appointed and almost 18 months after the first Doha talks? The ceasefire, such as it was, has collapsed—in spectacular fashion. JEM has withdrawn from Doha and is in a de facto alliance with SLA-Abdul Wahid with the stated intention of preventing government forces and militias from occupying Jebel Marra (which SLA-AW has only been able to defend thanks to support from JEM and, horribly, a government-supported militia). Attempts to form a coalition of SLA splinters have led to increased intra-factional fighting and further alienated Abdul Wahid—and the IDP camps he controls—from the peace process. Civil society did more in Doha than the movements have done—by coming up with a position paper to which every single individual subscribed—but saw the door slammed in its face by JEM, which has been insisting on a monopoly over peace-making. At last […]
The year 2009 and early months of 2010 witnessed consistent trends by some analysts and beneficiaries to describe the Darfur problem as a “low-intensity conflict” or a war that is already “over.” This is false: the war is not over. The former UNAMID Joint Special Representative Rodolph Adada used the term ‘Low-intensity conflict,” while briefing UN Security Council on 27th April 2009 about the security status in Darfur. The statement was based on data compiled by UNAMID relying upon information provided by the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) on estimates of people killed in violent incidents in previous months. There were no compelling evidences to support the accuracy and authenticities of the reports. The term became a subject of considerable political debate and several schools of interpretations. Mr. Adada failed to indicate what to do with the reports of the downward trends of fatalities in the region. He left the door open for different readings. UNAMID has continuously failed over the course of its deployment to protect itself let alone the people it was dispatched to protect. Five Rwandese soldiers were killed late in 2009 together with two Egyptians in May 2010 and others either injured or kidnapped in Darfur […]