It is becoming clear that delays regarding key issues that will impact Sudan are becoming the norm of the day. The reference is to the delay in removing Sudan from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism (SST), the delay in the kick-off of peace talks that was scheduled to take place in Juba last week and the delay in naming the 300 members of the legislative council, which was supposed to have taken place mid-November.
All show clearly that such situation requires a new approach.
Despite high hopes to support the popular uprising, the numerous calls from regional and international bodies to delist Sudan from the SST and enable the new transitional government in Sudan to sail smoothly, yet the American administration continue to drag its feet on the issue despite its claim that it no longer view Sudan as an adversary and that delisting is a process, not an event. For the time being Sudan should recognize that as a fact and work accordingly, instead of continue chasing illusive delisting target that has proven difficult to pin-point.
The other delay relates to the peace talks. Though everyone agrees that peace is the key to solving the country’s problems, that the current situation is providing the most conducive environment to forge ahead with a breakthrough in this complicated file, but aside from generalities, the nice words that this time all are talking as one team, not negotiating as adversaries, realities on ground point to a different directions. There are three groups that need to be engaged in the peace talks: one track with SPLM-N-Alhilo, another one with the Revolutionary Front, which comprises several rebel groups, each could have its own agenda and calculations and finally there is the faction led by Abdel Wahid Nour, who is borrowing a page from John Garang’s stand of rejecting any dealing with the transitional government.
Now that almost half of the six months deadline to conclude a lasting peace has evaporated without even a clear roadmap on how to attain peace, a different approach becomes a must.
To complicate an already complicated situation, the delay in even launching peace talks will have an impact on a pressing issue in the domestic scene: delays in appointing civilian governors for regional states and more important delaying appointing the legislative council.
The government and its political arm the Forces of Freedom and Change are finding themselves in the unenviable position of damn if you do and damn if you don’t. Going ahead and appoint members of the legislative council will be seen as breach of an agreement with the rebel movements to postpone these appointments till peace deal is concluded.
There is a growing feeling that securing quick peace deal is becoming as elusive as delisting Sudan from SST. Simply put it is not in the transitional government’s hands alone to execute.
And in the meantime the transitional period misses one of its most components: the popular backing that could be institutionalized through the legislative council.
In all three important and inter-related issues the government needs a different approach that starts with the basic question: how can we do something differently and mobilized whatever domestic resources that were powerful mean deployed to depose the Ingaz regime and without any outside help.
Building on this the government can differentiate between the rebel groups and ordinary people affected by the ongoing disputes. None of these groups can claim the exclusive representation of the IDPs and those affected, otherwise there should not have been all these rebel groups claiming to stand for the same issues. The root causes of the dispute could easily be attributed to a large extent on lack of resources and services. An ambitious program addressing these issues does not have to wait for a deal with the rebel groups. The government can embark on such program and change the equation.
Equally important is to forge ahead and appoint members of the legislative council to ensure completing the transitional period institutions on one hand, have a supervisory body overseeing the executive branches and more important to allow forces of youth and women, who were the main pillars of the popular uprising to have a constitutional representation during the interim period.
It is high time to think seriously of changing the equation starting with and relying on the domestic front, its people and resources that needs different prioritization, imagination and serious dedication to a practical program.
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