Saving Sudan from Disaster: Memorandum from al Sadiq al Mahdi
Memorandum to EU Ambassadors On the ICC and Sudan
From: Al Sadig Al Mahdi
President of Umma National Party
17th July 2008
I have requested this meeting, which you have kindly arranged to update you on events in the Sudan from Umma National Party (UNP) point of view and to compare notes with you.
Sudan is now at an important cross-road, where the stakes are very high: Peace, stability, and even the country’s survival are at stake.
1- Peace agreements have a very high mortality rate–50%–and no doubt an objective analysis of the three Sudanese Peace Agreements tends to support this impression.
Whatever political and diplomatic factors had to do with the failures of the CPA, the DPA and the ESPA; there are structural drawbacks, which contributed to the failures:
(A). The CPA succeeded in putting an end to a long civil war, striking a deal over power and wealth sharing between two parties (GoS and SPLM/A), setting up an administration in the South, and charting a program for democratic transformation. It was a necessary accord but not sufficient, because it failed to address North/North and South/ South conflicts. It excluded the rest of Sudan’s political and civil societies. It failed to achieve its most cherished targets of comprehensiveness, inclusivity and to make unity attractive. However, its most counter productive aspect is that it left no room for the Darfur Crisis, which by the time the CPA was signed (2005) became a greater threat to Sudanese stability and a greater center for International concern than ever before.
(B). The DPA was essentially born dead and since its signature, matters in Darfur turned to the worse. Its only achievement was paving the way for UNAMID.
(C). The ESPA really concerns GOS and the Eastern Front representing the political groups allied to the Eritrean government without much involvement of the rest of the political and civil forces.
The relations between the signatories of the CPA have become a series of cold war conflicts which reached a peak in September 2007. They temporarily resolved that conflict in December. However, one outcome of this tension is that they decided to involve the other political forces, which they have systematically bypassed in the past.
The negotiations which followed particularly between UNP and NCP resulted in the National Accord of May 2008. It resolved five basic issues:
“¢ To guarantee Human Rights and basic freedoms.
“¢ Without prejudice to southern gains, to involve the other stakeholders in the development of the CPA:
“¢ To do what it takes in terms of the legitimate demands of Darfur without DPA constraints.
“¢ To guarantee free and fair elections.
“¢ To convene a National All Party Forum to discuss and approve the National Agenda, and to agree about a mechanism of implementation.
2- Things came to a head on Monday 14th 2008 at the announcement of the ICC prosecutor seeking the indictment of the head of state.
This is the result of a series of mismanagements, namely:
(A) The anti insurrection policies in Darfur, which created the infamous tragedy which led to UNSC resolution 1593.
(B) When the ICC prosecutor sought the indictment of two Sudanese citizens in February 2007, the NCP response was irresponsible, and matters escalated to the 14th of July situation.
It will be some weeks away before the ICC judges decide on the matter during which time it is possible to consider all the available alternatives and seek to save the Sudan from disaster.
We have now the following positions:
(A) The NCP to consider the indictment of the President a virtual declaration of war with all the consequences.
(B) The Darfurian armed groups and others support the indictment and prepare for escalation.
The two positions will tear the Sudan up and set up a Somali scenario for Sudan. A situation, which would call for an International involvement í la Afghanistan.
(C) Although we maintain that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in Darfur, and accept Resolution 1593, and advise against escalation, we think that the indictment of the Head of State leads to a basic conflict between accountability and stability which calls for a more comprehensive logic that somehow seeks to resolve this conflict as was done in all successful Peace Agreements in the past. However, the new factor in this situation is the ICC and its demands.
Sudan’s body politic, the Community of Nations and the Security Council has to consider this compromise formula and see how to gain general acceptance for it and how to make it possible in terms of ICC constitution.
3- As things stand now, we have sought to cool responses to avoid heated exchanges, to seek National consensus on a united effort to resolve the country’s outstanding problems, especially the crisis in DARFUR and to create a new reality of National Accord.
If all concerned respond to this scenario, we will have turned the crisis into opportunity and turned it into a win-win formula.
In such circumstances it will be possible to realize a less than “a pound of flesh” accountability.
It is a case of seeking the lesser evil which, in the circumstances, sustains Sudan’s National interest.
We look up to the EU to help us help ourselves and establish Peace, Security and nuanced accountability.
Sadiq al Mahdi is the leader of the Umma National Party and was the elected Prime Minister of Sudan 1986-89.