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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Chinua Achebe and Why Things are in Free Fall in Africa

(Only Part of Prof. Mariam Article is published here due to space restriction)
Prof Alemayehu Mariam
Prof Alemayehu Mariam

Ivory Coast, December 2010 — Laurent Gbagbo says he won the presidential election. The Independent Ivorian Election Commission (CEI) said former prime minister Alassane Ouattara is the winner by a nine-point margin. The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, the United States, the European Union all say Ouattara is the winner. Gbagbo is only the latest African dictator to steal an election in broad daylight, flip his middle finger at his people, thumb his nose at the international community and cling to power like a barnacle to a sunken ship.

Ethiopia, May 2010. Meles Zenawi said he won the parliamentary election by 99.6 percent. The European Union Election Observer Team said the election “lacked a level playing field” and “failed to meet international standards”. Translation from diplomatic language: The election was stolen. Ditto for the May 2005 elections.

The Sudan, April 2010. Omar al-Bashir claimed victory by winning nearly 70 percent of the vote. The EU EOM declared the “deficiencies in the legal and electoral framework in the campaign environment led the overall process to fall short of a number of international standards for genuine democratic elections.” Translation: al-Bashir stole the election.

Niger, February 2010. Calling itself the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD), a group of army officers stormed Niger’s presidential palace and snatched president Mamadou Tandja and his ministers. In 2009, Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly and set up a “Constitutional Court” to pave the way for him to become president-for-life. Presidential elections are scheduled for early January, 2011.

Zimbabwe, March 2008. In the first round of votes, Morgan Tsvangirai won 48 percent of the vote to Mugabe’s 43 percent. Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff in June after Mugabe cracked down on Tsvangirai’s supporters. Mugabe declared victory. The African Union called for a “government of national unity”. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki mediated and Tsvangirai agreed to serve as prime minister. A stolen election made to look like a not-stolen-election.

Kenya, December 2007. Mwai Kibaki declared himself winner of the presidential election. After 1500 Kenyans were killed in post-election violence and some six hundred thousand displaced, intense international pressure was applied on Kibaki, who agreed to have Raila Odinga serve as prime minster in a coalition government. Another stolen election in Africa.

Massive election fraud, voting irregularities, vote buying, voter and opposition party intimidation, bogus voter registration, rigged polling stations, corrupt election commissioners and so on were common elsewhere in Africa including Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria and Egypt. In 2011, “elections” will be held in Chad, the Central African Republic, Malagasy, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria and other countries. Will there be more stolen elections? One thing is for sure: In January, the Southern Sudanese independence referendum will be held with little doubt about its outcome.

Chinua Achebe and Why Things are in Free Fall in Africa

In Things Fall Apart (1959), the great African novelist Chinua Achebe tells the story of the initial encounters in the 1890s between Ibo villagers in Nigeria and white European missionaries and colonial officials. That was the time when things really began to “fall apart” in Africa. The white man “put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” But his depiction could apply to the “falling apart” of many other African societies as a result of contact with colonialism and Christianity. But over the last one-half century, colonialism has become extinct and the white man has “left” Africa. The African leaders who replaced the colonial masters have not hearkened back to pre-colonial Africa and used traditional values and methods to hold the center and keep things from falling apart. Rather, they have followed in the colonial footsteps and lorded over vampiric states which have attenuated and frayed the fabric of the post-independent African societies to ensure their hold on power.

Robert Guest, Africa editor for The Economist, in his book The Shackled Continent (2004), argues that “Africa is the only continent to have grown poorer over the last three decades” while other developing countries and regions have grown. Africa was better off at the end of colonialism than it is today. According to the U.N., life expectancy in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland for the period 2005-2010 is less than 44 years, the worst in the world. The average annual income in Zimbabwe at independence in 1980 was USD $950. In 2009, 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars (with a “T”) was worth about USD $300. In the same year, a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe cost 300 billion Zimbabwean dollars (with a “B”). The tens of billions in foreign aid money has done very little to improve the lives of Africans. The reason for things falling apart in Africa is statism (the state as the principal change agent) and central planning, according to Guest. The bottom line is that the masses of Africans today are denied basic political and economic freedoms while the privileged few live the sweet life of luxury, not entirely unlike the “good old” colonial times.

Guest concludes that “Africans are poor because they are poorly governed.” The answer to Africa’s problems lies in upholding the rule of law, enforcing contracts, safeguarding property rights and putting more stock in freedom than in force. Much of Africa today is under the control of “Vampire states”. As the noted African economist George Ayittey explains, the “vampire African states” are “governments which have been hijacked by a phalanx of bandits and crooks who would use the instruments of the state machinery to enrich themselves and their cronies and their tribesmen and exclude everybody else.” (“Hyena States” would be a fitting alternative in the African landscape.) Africa is ruled by thugs in designer suits who buy votes and loyalties with cash handouts.

Things have fallen apart in Africa for a long time because of colonialism, capitalism, socialism, Marxism, communism, tribalism, ethnic chauvinism… neoliberalism, globalism and what have you. Things are in total free fall in Africa today because Africa has become a collection of vampiric states ruled by kleptocrats who have sucked it dry of its natural and human resources. It is easy to blame the white man and his colonialism, capitalism and all the other “isms” for Africa’s ailments, but as Cassius said to Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” The fault is not in the African people, the African landscape or skyscape. Africa is rich and blessed with natural and human resources. The fault is in the African brutes and their vampiric regimes.

Achebe took the title for his book Things Fall Apart from William Butler Yeats’s classic poem, which in partial rendition reads:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, (substitute Africa)
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

For what it is worth, my humble view is that the African center cannot hold and things always fall apart because the best and the brightest of Africans lack all conviction to do what is right, while the worst are full of passionate intensity to divide the people ethnically, tribally, racially, ideologically, religiously, regionally, geographically, linguistically, culturally, economically, socially, constitutionally, systematically… and rule them with an iron fist. “Ces’t la vie en Afrique!” as the French might say; but to gainsay Jacques Chirac, “Africa is ready for democracy!” (L’Afrique est prêt pour la démocratie!).

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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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