Thursday, May 27, 2004

Partial Peace in Sudan

CNSNews reports:

Two decades of civil war appears to be over in Sudan, where the warring parties have agreed on most of the outstanding issues that had blocked the signing of a final peace deal.

The Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) signed three power-sharing and administration protocols late Wednesday, following two years of negotiation.

I couldn't find the actual protocols online but here is a more detailed description from the BBC:
Much of the wrangling was over the distribution of government and civil service jobs between the two sides.

In the end, they agreed on a 70:30 split of all jobs in the central administration in favour of the government.

The SPLA insisted that the national capital, Khartoum, should not be subject to Islamic law, even though it is in the north.

They also wanted three central areas - oil-rich Abyei, Blue Nile State and the Nuba mountains - to be counted as part of the south, while the government said they were in the north.

In these regions, jobs will be shared 55:45 - again most go to the government.

On Khartoum, a rebel spokesman said that this would be decided by an assembly, to be elected.

Other good sources of information at All Africa and IRIN.

I am somewhat skeptical for several reasons. First, as noted in most of these articles, the deal does not include the more recent problems in Darfur. That isn't particularly unexpected, but it does call into question the seriousness with which the Sudanese government treats the very idea of human rights.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the fact that the Darfur atrocities are mainly being committed against African Muslims by Arab Muslims suggests that the underlying motive is some kind of racial supremacist ideology of which Baathism is another example. If this is the case it is unlikely that any peace will be lasting.

Finally, I question whether the government will seriously pursue democratic reforms. The fact that several factions in southern Sudan have been left out of the negotiations reinforces (although it does not prove) this impression. Time will tell, of course, but short of an independent or at least federally autonomous south, I suspect that this peace will be very tenuous indeed.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

UPDATE: Jane from Armies of Liberation has a similar take.

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