|Africa News Digest
Sudan North-South Peace Formally Signed in Nairobi
The formal, ceremonial signing of the agreement between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) took place Jan. 9 in Nairobi's Nyayo National Stadium, promising an end to 50 years of war interrupted by a decade of peace. Two million died in the second part of the war (1983-2004) alone.
Sudanese VP Ali Osman Taha and SPLM/A leader John Garang signed the accord in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Colin Powell, Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and Arab League chief Amr Moussa. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed as witnesses.
There was spontaneous singing, dancing, prayer, and ululating in the stadium. The proceedings were carried by radio to all of Sudan.
The terms of the accord include these:
* The current government in Khartoum will form a national unity government in which Garang will be Vice President and 30% of civil service positions will be filled by Southerners. There will be decentralization to give more power to the Federal states. Arabic and English will be the official languages.
* The two armies will remain separate forces and will be treated equally as Sudan's National Armed Forces. Coordination and command of both will be the work of a new Joint Defence Board of top officers from both sides. During the six-year interim period, each army will contribute equally to Joint Integrated Units to be deployed in Khartoum (3,000) and southern Sudan (24,000). North and South are defined by the 1956 boundary.
* Southerners will have 26% of positions in the intelligence service.
* Only the North will be subject to Shari'a (Islamic law).
* Oil revenues (the oil is mostly in the South) will be split 50-50 between North and South.
* The South will vote on unity or secession in 2011.
Optimism Over the Signing of the Sudan Peace Accord
The most optimistic statements in connection with the signing of the Sudan peace accord were those of John Garang and Sudan's Vice President Taha. At the Jan. 9 signing, Garang said, "This peace agreement will change Sudan forever.... Sudan cannot and will never be the same again as this peace agreement will engulf the country in democratic and fundamental transformation instead of being engulfed in wars. If this does not work, then we will have to look for other solutions, such as a split in the country. But we believe that a new Sudan is possible, for there are many in the North who share with us ... a belief in the universal ideals of humanity" [emphasis added].
For his part, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha told Al-Jezirah TV interviewer Mohamed al-Kabir al-Qutbi, on Jan. 8, "The situation in southern Sudan was the result of backwardness, scarcity of resources, people's dissatisfaction, and shortage of services. The agreement calls on the Sudanese people to pool their resources rather than fight politically on empty slogans and struggle over power. Thus, the emphasis and the priority would be on taking care of the poor classes, returning of the refugees, and ensuring essential services for the citizens, including health care, education and job opportunities for productive manpower.... [I]n the end we would subject all this experiment to an open public test through the referendum ... in southern Sudan, so that it would give a testimony to the validity of the experiment, and thus ensure the unity of Sudan."
Taha, to whom President Bashir gave responsibility for the negotiations, is himself a Southerner from Nile State who first joined the Islamist National Islamic Front (now the National Congress Party) as a student. He was Foreign Minister until promoted to Vice President in 1998.
Garang Draws on Original SPLM/A Program
John Garang has recently made statements that bring to mind his very positive, original program of the SPLM/A of 1983, to make Sudan as a whole into an "industrial and agro-industrial" nation.
In a wire of Dec. 31, 2004, AFP quoted from its interview with Garang in Rumbek earlier in the year, in which he said, "Our priority begins with infrastructures, because really, if things cannot move, the economy cannot function. We haven't had tarmac roads since creation [not one roaded.]. We have to open a waterway for navigation of the Nile, so that we link with the North, and we must rehabilitate the only railway line we have.... We're going to have to fight. But this time without weapons."
The "waterway for navigation of the Nile" is a reference to the massive Jonglei Canal project, three-quarters already built when war began in 1983. The canal is a bypass of the Sudd section of the Nile whichin addition to avoiding a huge loss of water by evaporation in the large surface area of the Sudd swamppermits navigation; the Sudd is impassable.
In his Iowa State University doctoral dissertation of 1981, Garang supported the construction of the Jonglei Canal provided it were the basis for a corridor of development, and not simply the means to get the water to Egypt and northern Sudan. He held to that view when he initiated war in 1983. He also envisioned large-scale, mechanized agriculture in the Nilotic plain. How much of his original program, is Garang willing to fight for?
If Garang were removed from the scene, however, the SPLM would likely to be taken over by others with a southern separatist outlook that is implicitly faulty in its understanding of the development processindividuals whom Garang has criticized for their "littleness."
Sudanese President Promises Development of South
"We will build schools and hospitals and provide clean drinking water, electricity, and development projects," Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir told a crowd of 15,000 mostly Christian Sudanese in the city of Malakal Jan. 11, according to AP. The war had raged in and around Malakal for years. "From now on, there will be no more fighting, but development and prosperity," he said. We need to end dependence on foreign relief and become self-sufficient by cultivating our own arable land, he said.
He was made chief of a local tribe by its elders.
Bashir is on a tour of the South, which began when he spoke before a crowd of 10,000 in Juba Jan. 10. He also visited outlying villages, where hundreds greeted him.
Garang Will Be Pressured by Oil Interests to Work for Secession
John Garang will face "a lot of pressure to spend the next six years preparing to separate from the North," said Melvin Foote, founder and Executive Director of Constituency for Africa (CFA), a U.S. NGO, in an interview with the Pan African News Agency, based in Dakar, Senegal. The interview is cited in a PANA wire of Jan. 12.
Foote said that part of this pressure on Garang and his movement will come from oil interests. There are many different agendas in the South, and different groups "will be pitted against one another for profits for external forces," he added. Foote also said that the tensions between the SPLM and Riek Machar's forces (and other southern armed groups) should be kept under control. (Machar split with the SPLA in 1991 after marrying a English aid worker, Emma McCune. Machar brought his forces back into the SPLM/A in 2002.)
"The road ahead will be treacherous for the Sudanese, both in the North and South," he said, emphasizing the importance of promoting development in southern Sudan to prevent the collapse of the peace agreement.
Foote, after visiting northern and southern Sudanese leaders in 2001, briefed U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the National Security Council, and the House Subcommittee on Africa, and proposed a shift from the existing pro-South policy to a policy of comprehensive peace, which he says Powell was then responsible for achieving. Foote faults the "Republican-dominated Congress," however, for failing to join in the shift, causing "a continuation of the war, and continuation of the suffering."
Foote's CFA, of which Ron Dellums is chairman, has been fighting for an AIDS Marshall Plan for Africa.
Annan Calls for Action: Fighting in Darfur Is Worse and Spreading
In a report to the UN Security Council Jan. 7, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for new international action to halt the fighting in western Sudan, of which he said, "The armed groups are re-arming and the conflict is spreading outside Darfur. Large quantities of arms have been carried into Darfur in defiance of the Security Council decision taken in July. A build-up of arms and intensification of violence, including air attacks, suggest the security situation is deteriorating.... I am concerned that we may move into a period of intense violence.... The pressures on the parties to abide by their commitments are not having a perceptible effect... [W]e need to reconsider what measures are required to achieve improved security."
Two nominally independent armed groups have appeared in Western Kordofan Stateadjacent to Darfursince Oct. 1. One of them, the Sudanese National Movement, led by Ali al-Shandi, claimed to London-based Al-Hayat Dec. 21 that it had "seized the oil wells in the Sharif region, 30 km from the main Abu Jabirah oilfield ... and killed 120 government soldiers."
The other, Al-Shahamah (nobility) Movement, was led by Mussa Ali Muhammadein, former Governor of Al-Rashad province in Southern Kordofan State, who was removed for his loyalty to Hassan al-Turabi. Muhammadein died in November. But former Governor of Western Kordofan, Al-Tayyib Mukhtar, claimed to Al-Khaleej (U.A.E.) about Oct. 21 that Al-Shahamah is part of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Darfur, and that Muhammadein persuaded the JEM to shift resources to Kordofan.
Israelis Confess: Sent Weapons to Darfur Rebels
Three Israelis interrogated by Jordanian authorities confessed to supplying weapons to the two main insurrectionist movements in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, according to the Sudanese press Jan. 8. Sudan's State Interior Minister Mohammed Haroun was quoted in the press confirming the story, according to a PANA wire that day. The fighting in Darfur has been worsening in recent weeks.
Sudanese radio had carried the story Dec. 26, naming Wayid A'a Mose Jolan as the mastermind. The broadcast claimed Jolan confessed to running a weapons factory in Tel Aviv and having a consultancy office for supplying weapons to secessionist movements, special agencies, and security companies. The Jan. 8 press reports said his firm provides training for unnamed military forces in Africa.
According to the radio report, sources said the arrests included "an individual working directly with Dan Yatom, youngest son to a former director of Israeli intelligence, who also served as one of the advisers in Ehud Barak's government."
The men were arrested in the week ending Dec. 25. As early as Dec. 19, the Sudanese Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ibrahim Hamid, said in a statement, "The material and moral support Israel provides to the Darfur rebels discloses the size of the foreign conspiracy for realizing a particular agenda in the region.... Israel's supply of such an amount of arms to the Darfur rebels must have a particular hidden agenda that is now coming to light." The government of Sudan has repeatedly accused Israel and Germany of supplying weapons to the insurgents.
Polio Cases WorldwideMost in AfricaRose by Half in 2004
Polio cases worldwide rose by half in 2004 after a vaccine boycott in Nigeria led to a resurgence of the disease across Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The number of cases in 2004 reached 1,185 compared to 784 in 2003. Most of the cases were in Africa. During the boycott, the polio virus spread to neighboring Benin, Chad, and Cameroon, as well as eight other countries. Children were infected in formerly polio-free countries. WHO had been conducting a campaign to eradicate polio completely by Dec. 31, 2005. The boycott in Nigeria resulted from the claim made by Islamic clerics there, that polio vaccination was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Muslims infertile or to infect them with the AIDS virus. Vaccination programs were restarted in Nigeria in July after local officials ended their 11-month boycott.