ICC Prosecutor Seeks Arrest warrant for Sudanese Minister for Darfur Crimes

2 December 2011 –

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today requested an arrest warrant against Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur.

According to a news release issued by the court, the evidence led the prosecutor to conclude that Mr. Hussein is one of those who bears the greatest criminal responsibility for the same crimes and incidents presented in previous warrants of arrest for government minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, both of whom have been indicted by the court.

The alleged crimes that Mr. Hussein is allegedly responsible for were perpetrated during attacks on the towns and villages of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala in the Wadi Salih and Mukjar localities of West Darfur from August 2003 to March 2004

The attacks followed a common pattern: Sudanese Government forces surrounded the villages, the Air Force dropped bombs indiscriminately and foot soldiers, including militia or Janjaweed, killed, raped and looted the entire village, forcing the displacement of four million inhabitants. Currently, 2.5 million people remain internally displaced.

At that time Mr. Hussein was the Sudanese Minister for the Interior as well as Special Representative of the President in Darfur, with all of the powers and responsibilities of the President. He delegated some of his responsibilities to Mr. Harun, the Minister of State for the Interior, whom he appointed to head the “Darfur Security Desk.”

In the case against Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb, the pre-trial chamber ruled that local security committees coordinated these attacks. They were supervised by state security committees, which reported to Mr. Harun, who in turn, according to the evidence, reported to Mr. Hussein.

“The evidence shows that this was a State policy supervised by Mr. Hussein to ensure the coordination of attacks against civilians,” said Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

“Moreover, the evidence shows that directly and through Mr. Harun, Mr. Hussein played a central role in coordinating the crimes, including in recruiting, mobilizing, funding, arming, training and the deployment of the militia/Janjaweed as part of the Government of the Sudan forces, with the knowledge that these forces would commit the crimes,” he stated.

The Prosecutor believes that Mr. Hussein should be arrested to prevent him from continuing to commit crimes within the jurisdiction of the court.

This is the ICC’s fourth case in Darfur, which the Security Council referred to it in 2005 after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law. In addition to Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb, ICC judges have issued arrest warrants against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and summonses to appear for rebel leaders Abdallah Banda, Saleh Jerbo and Abu Garda for war crimes.

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Ignore the African Union, Arrest Murmur Gaddafi

Commentary/African Democracy

Five months into the Libyan crisis that seeks to nurture democracy by clearing out the long-running Murmur Gaddafi dictatorial regime, the Libyan leader digs in precariously. Part of the reasons is the environment Gaddafi finds himself in – Africa, where he has like-minded leaders.

The June 29 to July 1 African Union (AU) Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea that said African leaders “will not subscribe or respect the recent arrest warrant” smacked on Gaddafi by the International Criminal Court (ICC)” for crimes against humanity is inopportune for Africa’s democratic growth.

The AU’s stand on Gaddafi isn’t surprising. The Gaddafi lobby had recruited ex-Ghanaian dictator President Jerry Rawlings, who has weak democratic credentials and was helped by Gaddafi in 1981 to topple the democratically elected President Hilla Limann, to Malabo to talk some African leaders to disregard the ICC warrant. Similar arrest warrant slapped on the Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on July 12, 2010, whose forces have killed over 300,000 civilians in Sudan’s Darfur, has not been enforced by AU members. In fact, Gaddafi had earlier arm-twisted fellow African leaders to ignore the ICC warrant whacked on el-Bashir.

African leaders do not share common democratic purpose. This is nauseating. They are tyrannical playactors against Africa’s real democratic needs – the rule of law, freedoms, social justice, equality and deep decentralization as harbingers for authentic advancement. This has made the swaggering AU a forum of unrealistic dictators at collision with realistic democrats. This is putting Africa’s emerging democracy and progress at risk.

Another bad omen for African democrats was the fact that Malabo, unlike Accra (Ghana) or Port Louis (Mauritius), wasn’t a positive democratic venue for their struggles. The dark, nightmarish undemocratic forces in Malabo were too strong for the burgeoning African democrats. The gloomy autocratic forces were able to disable the blossoming African democracy. Teodoro Obiang, the President of Equatorial Guinea, who hosted the AU summit and was elected the new chair of the AU, is horrific premonition for African democrats.

Equatorial Guinea is practically a one-party system despite multiparty democracy enshrined in its 1991 constitution. With only a population of 668,225, Equatorial Guinea may be oil rich but majority of Equatorial Guineans survive on less than US$2.00 a day. This is despite the fact that the US State Department reports, “the 2010 government revenue was about US$6.739 billion.”

Irrationally believing he is a God-sent, like Gaddafi and other African leaders, Teodoro Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea wistfully for 31 years, luckily dodging off attempts to overthrow him. With one of the worst human rights violations in Africa, Obiang tortures and has killed hundreds of Equatorial Guineans to contain opposition.

Whether in Malabo, Teodoro Obiang or Gaddafi, at issue are democratic values driven by Africans’ experiences and history. Malabo, Teodoro Obiang or Gaddafi is allergic to democratic ideals. They cannot put up with democratic daylight beamed onto their dark authoritarian practices by African democrats.

In this sense, at the heart of the tussle between the AU and the ICC are Africa’s democratic enlargement and its implications for Africa’s progress – based on Africa’s dark history of tyranny, social injustice and corruption by its leaders such as Gaddafi. The ICC incursion into Africa’s democratic growth, as Cote d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara indicated when he asked the ICC to “investigate allegations of serious human rights crimes committed during the country’s recent turmoil,” is that years of dictatorship have made the African legal system frail and at the mercy of dictators like Gaddafi.

Against this backdrop, it isn’t surprising that Gaddafi thinks the pro-democracy campaigners are possessed with evil spirits and should be ritually killed to cleanse Libya. But for NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Gaddafi would have engaged in mass butchering of the Libyan pro-democracy campaigners. In the fashion of African style-human sacrifice, Gaddafi had planned to purify the Libyan society with the blood of the Libyan democrats.

While the world condemned Gaddafi, most African leaders did not. The reasons are obvious, most African leaders’ mind-set aren’t different from Gaddafi. Over the years, Gaddafi has gleefully bankrolled a good number of them. Despite this some African countries and institutions such as the main opposition party in Ghana, the National Patriotic Party, has asked for global support for Libya’s pro-democracy campaigners. The grand old Liberia has sided with Libyan democrats, following the heels of Senegal and Mauritania. Chad, which has suffered over the years from Gaddafi’s disorder, too, “supports efforts to drive Muammar Gaddafi from power.”

African watchers such as the Geoffrey York, of the Toronto-based The Globe And Mail, thinks part of the reasons why African leaders are soft on Gaddafi and shown no support for Africa’s pro-democracy revolutionaries is that democratic “revolution is often a luxury of an educated middle class, and much of Africa is too rural and too poor to sustain a national uprising … Dictators in sub-Sahara Africa often defend their power through a politically loyal military …”

Gaddafi’s legendary use of his family and his Bedouin ethnic group that dominated the Libyan military to violently suppress Libyans quest for democracy and freedoms in the past 42 years is open secret. This is the African “Big Man” syndrome at work, either in the Malabo AU summit or Tripoli’s Green Square, aided by prevailing armies and an unfeeling readiness to use brutality against democracy and freedom activists.

Still, some of the motives for the muted African voices are technology and ethnic and religious. Geoffrey York argues that limited technologies such as internet make it difficult for Africans to rally for Libyan democrats (Cell phones are hugely common but other forms of technology are limited). “And the ethnic and religious rifts in many African countries are huge obstacle to the organization of national” democratic “protest.”  This has restricted civil society.

Gibril Koroma, the Sierra Leonean publisher of the Vancouver-based www.thepatrioticvanguard.com argues that by not giving higher thoughts to Africa’s democratic evolution and supporting Gaddafi’s violent attacks against Libya’s democrats, the African Union “pumps oxygen into Gaddafi.” That’s sad and inhuman considering Gaddafi’s history of brutalities against Libyans and other Africans. In Gibril Koroma’s own native Sierra Leone, Gaddafi destructively helped finance and traine the murderous Revolutionary United Front that killed, maimed, raped, fire-boomed property, looted diamonds and amputed Sierra Leoneans – cutting off their limbs, noses, ears and genitals.

Other reasons why African leaders constantly keep quiet about Gaddafi’s dictatorial attitude, Gibril Koroma, in an op-ed piece in the Toronto-based Digital Journal argued, is “Gaddafi has used Libyan money to help most of the cash-strapped African countries and has been financially supporting the political and economic unification of the continent. Most African leaders are grateful for this and will stand by him through thick and thin.”

That’s untoward for a continent which progress has been stunted by the likes of Gaddafi. The nascent African democratic experiences reveal that democracy and freedoms will bring indestructibly superior advancement for the struggling Africans. Ghana, Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Mali, South Africa and Benin Republic attest to this. But majority of other Africans are still suffering under authoritarian regimes like Gaddafi’s.

Plausibly, this makes Gibril Koroma’s other argument that African leaders are cool with Gaddafi because of his make-believe mission of a United States of America and some Western leaders are “hypocrites,” some of whom aren’t “even a signatory to the ICC agreements,” off tangent. Yes, these may be true to some points. But the critical issue is Africa’s healthier democratic fruition for its progress informed by the contemptible political records of African leaders such as Gaddafi.

For their greater progress, Africans should ignore the wobbly African Union’s stand on Gaddafi and arrest Gaddafi if they locate him anywhere on the African continent for the International Criminal Court, for his crimes against Africans.

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Africa’s Evil: An Examination

Africa’s evil scene

The eccentric atmosphere following the International Criminal Court (ICC) issuing an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s President, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity (short of genocide) in Darfur open the obscurities of evil in Africa for the past 50 years.

In some sort of grim moment, al-Bashir and the ICC are quarrelling over the darkness in Darfur, where the United Nations estimates that over 300,000 people (and still counting) have died in the past six years of the conflict. So, what have al-Bashir being doing in the past years to have prevented such evil? And al-Bashir, with a cold-shoulder, denies the ICC charges and dismisses any ruling by the ICC as insignificant and rejects the chilling pains, horrors, darkness, and deaths hovering over Darfur.

Africans, who have over the past 50 years seen other horrifying evils across their borders, are a bit relieved over the al-Bashir indictment – at least, for now, psychologically. Al Bashir’s formal arrest and trial will add up to the updating on Liberia’s Charles Taylor, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s ex-warlord Thomas Lubanga and Chad’s Hissène Habré. And as Clifton Crais meditates in Politics of Evil, Africans, with the help of the international community, are capable of fighting evils that have destroyed their progress as they did against one of the great evils of the 20th century – South Africa’s apartheid.

For the past decades, from Idi Amin’s Uganda, Jean-Bedel Bokassa’s Central African Republic (CAR), Samuel Doe’s Liberia, Foday Sankoh’s Sierra Leone, Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Ethiopia to Juvénal Habyarimana’s Rwanda, stains of deadly ethnicity, threats, frightening tension, harassments, massacres, witchcraft, human sacrifices, genocides, deaths, civil wars, famine, murders, floods, locusts and other natural disasters have visited Africa.

With fast developing global communication gadgets, Africa’s evils are being tracked day in, day out by satellites, video clips, radio, mobile phones, photographs, and computers, showing vivid clarities of the heavy suffering of the people of Darfur, CAR’s north-east region, Chad’s Zaghawa and Tama ethnic groups and the DRC’s eastern region. Video clips released by the British-based Aegis Trust show a Sudanese government soldier saying he was forced to rape at gunpoint by a senior officer and other doers said such acts were intended to make babies of a different race.

Now and then, an evil, a true chasm.

An evening newscast would tell the natural tribulations – the Supreme Being (God)’s anger and nature – locusts’ outbreak in Mali, the Gambia, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso, the floods in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia, the deaths by cholera in Zimbabwe, and ebola outbreak in the DRC. As Darfur shows, it would add up to moral evils – the horrors accomplished by Africa’s “Big Men” and their foreign accomplices. After Darfur, Liberia and Sierra Leone, anything new about Africa’s evils? Hackings in apartheid South Africa? The simultaneous assassination of Guinea-Bissau’s President Bernardo Vieira and Chief of its Armed Forces, Gen. Tagme na Waie, on purely tribal hatred? A baby, called Mercy, left to die in Ghana’s Upper West region for allegedly being a witch? Or the constant kidnappings in Nigeria’s fidgety Niger Delta region where pregnant women are raped to death? Its being awhile in 2005 when the charity Medecine Sans Frontieres reported that almost 500 cases of rape against women, children and men in Darfur – the horror is still going on.

From genocide, rape, human sacrifices, floods, moral evils, cannibalism to juju-marabout mediums and witchdoctors messing up families, Africa has seen all evils and appears to have explored all sorts of evil deeds. Villages and farms burned in Sierra Leone and Liberia during their civil wars were evils made noticeable. The evil turned people’s shelters and livehood upside down, with some committing suicide as a result.

Despite highly developed high-tech war gadgets, the genocide in Rwanda saw the use of crude weapons – machetes. In Conspiracy to Murder – the Rwandan Genocide, Linda Melvern explains how machetes were purposely imported from Egypt and France to commit the genocide in an atmosphere of frightful tribalism. In the Liberian civil war, both President Samuel Doe and then rebel leader Charles Taylor used sophisticated weapons and demonized each other as evil. Doe had Taylor as evil, Taylor had Doe as evil. After Doe’s murder and with Taylor confronted with new war as President, Taylor came down as the evil one by rebel forces. Liberian women organized protests that helped push Taylor into exile in Nigeria and later on his on-going trial at The Hague on eleven counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other slaughter.

Is there more or less evil in Africa today?

Is there more or less evil in Africa today than 50 years ago? As Ghana and Benin Republic exemplify, the past years have brought the triumph of democratic order and freedoms against long years of detestable military juntas and insomniac one-party systems. In Ethiopia and Benin Republic communism collapsed; in South Africa apartheid was toppled; the end of the Cold War freed Africa as the threatre of Superpower rival that left Somalia burnt down and Liberia in the gutter. But state violence persists in most African states – in the style of CAR’s Bokassa, Guinea’s Sekou Toure and Mobutu’s Zaire.

Across Africa, democracy and freedoms are flowering, though with pains, announcing the beginning of history, with mass communications and global prosperity knocking down the old order. Africa can take satisfaction from the progress of Ghana, Cape Verde, Senegal, Tanzania, Benin, South Africa, Botswana and Mauritius, without disparagement, that reason, the rule of law, freedoms, human rights and democracy are pushing out some of its evils into the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and enlightening the continent.

But as Somalia, CAR, the DRC and Darfur show some parts of Africa are concurrently darker. The amputations in Sierra Leone and the dismembering of people in Liberia during their respective civil wars not only announced that each African era reveals its own evils but also the sorting out of different darkness. In some parts of Africa evil may be changing its priorities and intentions but pretty much of it remain the same – human sacrifices remains the same, and is increasing in Gabon over the past twenty years, where Jean-Elvis Ebang Ondo, a school teacher, has been waging national campaigns against human sacrifices after his 12-year-old son and a friend were ritualistically killed, their dismembered bodies washed up on a Libreville beach.

From the African culture to the practices of their nation-states, evil does exist – Africans do not argue about that, they know all about the horrors evil brings, as new killing-fields, from DRC, Darfur to Somalia, show, the level of horrors still shock even the most hardened observers, revealing how violent, corrupt, atrocious and vicious Africa’s evil perpetrators can be. Natural evils or the hands of the Supreme Being? The 2000 catastrophic flood in Mozambique that made many homeless, about 800 people killed, over 1,400 km² of arable land destroyed and over 20,000 head of cattle lost, the worst in 50 years, shows nature’s impulses and brutalities that go past reasoning.

But though Africans know evil exist, they do not give it too much credit, to do that is to give more power to evil than good. Africans acknowledge that their cultural universe is a battleground between evil and good forces, the outcome not in doubt, where good triumph over evil, over witchcraft and demons. As the re-marking of Uganda by Yoweri Museveni shows after Idi Amin’s cataclysm, Africans know evil is temporary but good is permanent. From the various Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, Africans, who are one of the most forgiving of humanity, do not allow their lower instincts and tragedies grow-up as the dominant idea. To do that is to make evil equal to the Supreme Being. What passes for evil, such as a baby called Mercy abandoned to die in Ghana’s Upper West region, for allegedly being a witch, may be mere ignorance that can be corrected with public human rights education. Guinea-Bissau’s dark metaphysics can be managed by the regional body ECOWAS seeing it as outlandish accidents or absolute stupidity.

Or, for the matter of evil challenging the Supreme Being, Zambia’s ex-Roman Catholic Archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, talks of the fact that in African tradition, development occurs only when the metaphysical is balanced with the physical. And where there is no balance, crises occur. Here darkness isn’t empowered; the darkness hasn’t the same power as the light.

But as Africans deal with evil, the issue is being moved out of their metaphysics into the intellectual framework, into the human agency, into the ICC, into the various Truth and Reconciliation Commissions across Africa, into the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, into the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone and the growing democracies, the rule of law and freedoms across the continent. This means evil as an African dilemma will be solved more intelligently outside the African cosmological context.

This moves the evil discussions out of African fatalism and “na god mak am” (God has destined it) syndrome, as the Sierra Leonean would say, to the holistic, making the evil-doers responsible for their actions, as human agencies, and not some demons, evil spirits influencing malevolent perpetrators. When in DRC’s Ituri province between June 2007 and June 2008, 6,766 cases of rape were reported, according to the UN, with 43% involving children, the evil debate was being addressed outside demonology to the intellectual framework, to the real world. Despite that, as Lance Morrow explains in Evil: An Investigation, evil is amorphous, intellectually unmanageable, an anonymous, hideous charm, difficult to comprehend, and no explanation as to what it is despite attempts by geo-politics and sociobiology to do so.

Continue reading “Africa’s Evil: An Examination”

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Sudanese Leader Still Committing Crimes in Darfur, Security Council Told

8 June 2011 –Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir continues to commit crimes against humanity and carry out genocide against the residents of Darfur in defiance of the United Nations, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the Security Council today.

In 2005 the Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law. The ICC has since issued arrest warrants against Mr. Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, making him the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the court.

“President al-Bashir has learned how to continue to commit crimes challenging the authority of the UN Security Council, and ignoring Resolution 1593, as well as other resolutions,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said as he presented his 13th report to the Council.

Mr. Bashir and his supporters “continue denying the crimes, attributing them to other factors (such as inter-tribal clashes), diverting attention by publicizing ceasefire agreements that are violated as soon as they are announced, and finally proposing the creation of special courts to conduct investigations that will never start,” he said.

“The challenge to the Security Council’s authority is further evidence that the extermination of the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa, as well as any tribe deemed disloyal to the regime, is a policy defined by the top leadership of the Government of the Sudan.

“It is calculated to ensure that the armed forces, their associated militia and other security bodies will continue committing new crimes, with the same modus operandi, wherever and whenever they are instructed to do so.”

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said Mr. Bashir had threatened the international community with retaliation and more crimes as a result of his indictment. “This tactic is not new; it is the documented practice of massive criminals – denial, cover-up, and threat of repetition.”

He urged the Council to use the information exposed by the ICC to stop the crimes in Darfur, adding that the “prosecution, fulfilling its mandate, is willing to assist.”

Speaking to reporters after briefing the Council, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the recent arrest of the Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, after nearly 16 years on the run, had shown the world that arrest warrants will eventually be carried out.

“Arrest warrants are not going away. Bashir is destined to face justice. The problem is the time [it will take] for the victims,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.

He also told that the Council another Sudanese war crimes suspect indicted by the ICC for atrocities in Darfur, Ahmad Harun, has continued his illegal actions with impunity as a senior Government official.

“The record of Ahmad Harun provides a clear demonstration of the risk of impunity and ignoring information about crimes,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.

“In my seventh report to this Council… three years ago, I expressed concern about Harun having been dispatched to Abyei to ‘address disputes’ between the Misseriya and the SPLM/A [Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army]. Following his dispatch, as I reported, Abyei was burned down, with 50,000 civilians displaced.

“In my ninth report, presented on 5 June 2009, two years ago, I expressed concern about Harun’s appointment… as Governor of South Kordofan. He is presenting himself as an efficient operator and is dubbed by the some members of the international community as the man to talk to get things done.”

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo also noted to the Council that the ICC had in March confirmed war crimes charges against two rebel leaders who stand accused of orchestrating the 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 African Union peacekeepers in the Haskanita area of Darfur.

Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo have not disputed their participation in the attack and both have committed to surrender voluntarily to the ICC for trial. They have, however, demanded that Mr. Bashir too appear before ICC judges and respect the court’s decisions, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the Council.

UN News Center

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Will Sudan lead the way to the next big carve-up?

Charles Onyango-Obbo

Finally, the January referendum wheels seem to be turning irreversibly in Southern Sudan. There was a lot of excitement even with the registration that ended last Tuesday, by which time three million had registered.

Now it looks like the January 9, 2011, when the region is highly likely to vote to secede, will be on schedule. If not, the delay will only be by a few weeks.

So far a lot of attention has been focused on whether Khartoum will sabotage the referendum, and plunge the country back into war.

However, there is another organisation that is quite uneasy with the prospect of South Sudan independence — the African Union.

At one point the AU was categorical that it did not think secession was the best option for South Sudan. Lately, as the inevitable draws close, it has softened its position.

However, it remains mealy-mouthed.

The AU is concerned about South Sudan, because African leaders fear what effect secession will have on their own mostly poorly managed and poor nations.

Some African countries are too big for their leaders to run effectively.

For that reason, one can argue that it makes sense for Sudan, Africa’s largest country, to be split in two, even if it hadn’t endured decades of a bitter civil war.

If South Sudan’s secession creates a domino effect, it is not difficult to see which ones will fall first.

Most immediately, next door, it will help complete Somaliland’s consolidation into an independent or, at least, autonomous state.

There are, indeed, Somali academics who claim that the UK, for one, wants Somaliland, which was once a British protectorate, to break away.

In the long run, depending on how the February 2011 elections and next five years turn out, northern Uganda — where there have already been secessionist rumblings — could look to form a loose federation with Southern Sudan and the Lendu of the DR Congo in a bigger “Lendu Republic” as hardline Sudanic/Luo chauvinists in East Africa sometimes refer to that political project.

Sooner than that, DR Congo could follow Somaliland.

The DRC is likely to split into four; the western part will be one block, then the eastern “Kiswahili region” will break up into three.

One, further south, will be a Rwanda sphere of influence. The middle portion could be a Uganda-allied state. And the northern bit would walk off to be part of the Lendu Republic.

The one that would really shake Africa would be Nigeria. Indeed, the eccentric Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (the man with the “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse), has suggested that Nigeria be split into north and south, as one way of stopping the periodical orgies of Christian-Muslim slaughter.

The Nigerian government was outraged, but that is a popular view in the oil-rich south, which thinks the north are a bunch of freeloading gun-toting Muslim extremists.

Back in the East African Community, the Zanzibar Isles, which have never been quite happy in their marriage to mainland Tanzania, could swim off to relish the pleasures of their spices without the overlordship of condescending Dar es Salaam.

*Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group’s executive editor for Africa & Digital Media. E-mail: cobbo@ke.nationmedia.com

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Endgame in Sudan

George Clooney and John Prendergast

Africa’s next deadly war does not have to happen. In little over a month, the people of Southern Sudan will vote for independence, taking with them up to three-quarters of the country’s known oil reserves and placing millions of civilians in the potential path of war.

They’ve done it before. The north and the south fought a 20-year civil war that ended in 2005 only after 2 million people were dead.

We recently spent time in Sudan along the border between the north and south and saw what a return to war could look like. Not On Our Watch and the Enough Project team made this video from our trip to highlight the challenges Sudan faces as it works toward holding a peaceful referendum and avoiding a return to civil war.

Nicholas Kristof premiered this video on his New York Times blog. He wrote, "Let’s hope that the alarms, and the latest burst of diplomacy and spotlight on South Sudan, are enough to avert a new war."

There’s only one month left. It’s frighteningly late, but not too late, to stop the next round of bloodshed before it starts. Renewed war in Sudan is not inevitable. A complex but workable peace can be brokered if all interested parties become more deeply involved, and the US maintains its recent focus on contributing to a solution.

Your voice in support of US diplomacy is key. There is no time to wait. This is happening now. Visit Sudan Now to get involved.

We were late to Rwanda. We were late to Congo. We were late to Darfur. We can’t afford to be late again. This is our chance to actually stop a war before it starts.

George Clooney is an actor and co-founder of the NGO Not On Our Watch. John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author of The Enough Moment: The Fight to End Human Rights Crimes in Africa.

 

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Late, but not too late, for Sudan

John Prendergast & George Clooney

George Clooney and John Prendergast

George Clooney is an actor and co-founder of the NGO Not On Our Watch. John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author of The Enough Moment: The Fight to End Human Rights Crimes in Africa

Well, we’re in it now. What we do best. Diplomacy. The White House has dispatched Senator John Kerry to Sudan with a proposal for peace between the North and South. It’s a giant step toward avoiding the kind of bloodshed that killed more than two million people in Sudan’s previous 20-year North-South civil war, which ended only in 2005 — and is threatening to erupt once again.

In recent months, President Barack Obama has stepped up his own involvement and that of senior figures in his administration in support of a peace strategy for Sudan. On his behalf, Kerry has delivered a package of proposals designed to break the logjam that has brought the North and South to a dangerous crossroads.
We have written a memo that spells out some of the essential elements of what a grand bargain for peace in Sudan could look like. If you’re interested in the specifics of a possible peace deal — and in actions that you can take to support it — go to SudanActionNow.org.
There is little time to waste. On January 9, 2011, the people of Southern Sudan will vote for independence from the North, taking with them up to three-quarters of the country’s known oil reserves and placing millions of civilians in the direct path of war.
The government in Khartoum (the capital in the North) is led by Omar al-Bashir, whose accomplishments, which include overseeing war crimes during the previous North-South war and engineering the atrocities in Darfur, have brought him arrest warrants for war crimes and genocide from the International Criminal Court.
And yet renewed war in Sudan is not inevitable. A complex but workable peace can be brokered if all interested parties become more deeply involved. The current moment requires robust diplomacy — the kind that can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but that gets the job done. We believe that Kerry is a skilled emissary and can help the parties find the compromises necessary for peace.
Any agreement preventing a return to war would necessarily involve the National Congress Party, representing the North, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, representing the South. But it would also involve the United States, whose post-referendum relationship with the two parties will have enormous influence over whether a deal gets done.
We believe that a grand bargain to lay the foundation for lasting peace between the North and South would oblige the parties to:
  • Hold the Southern Sudan referendum on time and fully respect and implement the results;
  • Reach a mutually satisfactory agreement concerning the territory of Abyei, a key disputed border area;
  • Craft a multi-year revenue-sharing arrangement in which the oil wealth of Abyei and key border areas could be divided equitably between the North and South, with a small percentage going to the Arab Misseriya border populations for development purposes;
  • Demarcate the uncontested 80% of the border and refer the remaining 20% to binding international arbitration;
  • Create serious protections for minority groups, with consideration of joint citizenship for certain populations, backed by significant international consequences for attacks on southerners in the North or northerners in the South.

The US role as the invisible third party to the agreement involves a series of incentives offered to the regime in Khartoum to ensure agreement and implementation of a peace deal. In exchange for action on the North-South and Darfur peace efforts, the US would implement a clear, sequenced, and binding path to normalization of relations.
This would involve — in order — removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, exchange of ambassadors, lifting of unilateral sanctions, and support for bilateral and multilateral debt relief, together with other economic measures by international financial institutions. Conversely, the US must be prepared to lead international efforts to impose severe consequences on any party that plunges the country back into war.
Peace and security in Darfur should be an essential benchmark for normalized relations between the US and Sudan. The Obama administration should hold firm on this through the coming rounds of negotiation, and should appoint a senior official to help coordinate US policy on Darfur in order to ensure that peace efforts there receive the same level of attention as the North-South efforts.
What is needed now is political will — and not only in the US — to sustain this diplomacy. The European Union and Sudan’s neighbors — in particular Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda — will also need to play a robust role. And China’s diplomacy in Sudan, where it has invested massively in developing the country’s oil resources, will be a test of whether or not it intends to be a responsible stakeholder in Africa and the wider world.
Ensuring that governments work toward peace is where you come in. Keep the pressure on them. Support the peace process. Your voice can prevent a war. Not guns. Not money. Just our voices.
The way to peace in Sudan is not simple, but it is achievable. There are hard choices to be made. We can make those choices now, or we can persuade ourselves that peace is too hard or too complex, and then look on resignedly from the sidelines as hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children needlessly die. It’s up to us.
George Clooney is an actor and co-founder of the NGO Not On Our Watch. John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author of The Enough Moment: The Fight to End Human Rights Crimes in Africa.
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