Amid accusations that the recent initiative that was launched by the ruling National Congress Party is merely window dressing, a conference was held to discuss the implementation and goals of the peace initiative. Various rebel groups and observers did not attend and dismiss the initiative as a means to avoid the arrest of President Bashir. Any effective settlement of the conflict will need to encourage rebel participation. Turabi’s Popular Congress Party also did not attend. The initiative is being supported by the SPLM, however they are divided from within. A few within the SPLM believe that without Bashir there is no guarantee of an implementable peace agreement.
A new round of talks are being set to be held in Qatar.
The Sudan People’s Initiative has the support of about 33 political parties. It is meant to bring Sudanese and non-Sudanese together to discuss representation and participation of the people, and mechanisms for post-conflict rehabilitation. Djibril Bassole, the AU-UN negotiator Darfur recognizes the initiative as a precursor to the Qatar initiative. Bassole believes that the government’s commitment to the initiative is essential. The Embassy of the Republic of Sudan states that the Initiative should not merely be rejected because it comes from Khartoum and that the rebels’ recent emboldened stance to fiercely boycott these efforts, based not on reading or consideration of the text of the initiative, reveals that it is a reaction to ICC recent actions.
The spokesperson for the IDP’s, Hussein Abu Shariati, has called for disarmament of the pro-government militias and armed groups before peace talks begin. Reports indicate that Khartoum plans to begin DDR (disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration). According to Adriann Verheul, chief of the UN program supporting the government DDR program, this could be the largest DDR operation in the world.
Mani Arkoi Minawi, a former rebel leader, now the senior assistant to al-Bashir, is participating in the Sudanese People’s Conference. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he told the newspaper that he is focusing his concerns on the will to find a solution, the arrival of assistance to the victims and the implementation of regeneration projects. He provides a dismal report on the lack of improvement in agriculture and farming due to the terrible security problems. He states that all the parties have contributed to the instability of the situation for various reasons. He also maintains that development funding through the Arab Development Fund never translated into action. He also asserts that once there is political will for a solution, then he will play a role between armed groups and the government in preparation for reconciliation.
The UN Secretary General has diagnosed that the quantity of displacements per day in the region of Darfur is too high and therefore has made it impossible for the UN peacekeeping forces to subdue the hostility as a result of the civil war. The UN chief blames the Sudanese government for putting in place obstacles that impede peace efforts. Those obstacles include multiple customs checks, long checkpoint delays and visa issues. The conditions for peace have been hampered by this series of impossible demands and the fact that a military solution is being implemented. The Sudanese government disputes UN figures on the number of displaced and that it is undermining UNAMID or aid efforts.
From My Perspective
* Enable reintegration and recovery in local women’s groups that are monitored by international organizations.
* Enable and reintegrate IDP’s into a trust building relationship with international monitors and local authorities. Officials could conduct various town hall meetings so that the IDP’s in camps can be part of a process to establish best practices and programs that reflect restorative purposes to respond to war injuries. They need to directly and fully participate in the response to the crimes if peace is the goal.
* Work toward building restorative programs that hold the four key values of restorative justice: encounter, amends by offenders, reintegration and inclusion. Having victims, offenders and community members discuss the crime and aftermath and realize a way to restore the whole society to allow for the contributions of each part of society is highly recommended.
Moving forward should not feel like people are being asked to accept being cheated as a condition to accept the forward momentum toward peace. In the current mechanisms, people are being asked to accept that the relationship is an ongoing process of cheating each other. Continuously asking people to accept conditions where they are subjected to unusual scorn and that their experience be silenced or that they accept second class citizenship is not political. If various political parties can’t seem to move beyond old social constraints, then they impede social progress and the norms of the world in which we live in. They should provide an opportunity to stop being mistreated and participate in recovering their dignity and rights, without fear of retaliation.
* Transform cultural relations among the diverse tribes to move beyond differences that have become hardened, toward common interests that bridge diverse people together. The various groups need to relate in a way that does not feel threatening to their way of life. In other words, conducting workshops that bridge people toward understanding each other should not be based on needs and wants. They should be purely on communication toward a constructive way to coexist, without allegiances being built on a struggle for scarce resources or that requires victims to set aside their interests for the benefit of their oppressors in exchange for an end to the offensives. Workshops should focus on integration and help build a communication style that does not provoke violence or asks for unreasonable concessions that do not promote healing within communities.
* Campaigns that strip people of who they are need to stop. They are merely ways to de-legitimize what people stand for. To ask a person to set aside the practices that they value in order to continue to promote the conflict is not a good convention to adopt; it’s unwise. It is merely an illusory assumption that states that society suffers unless those who appear to offend others are stripped of their values or asked to not demand societal change. Civil war victims do not need to conform to the so-called moral majority in order for peace to be accepted in a region and for discrimination to be normalized. To encourage an individual or a group to give up its rights so that they can take steps that are not in their best interests is not lawful or a good practice.