Statement on Sudan and Darfur to the UN Security Council, October 2006
New York, October 26 2006
You will recall in my last brief to the Council, a month ago, I had said that the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was in a coma, not yet dead but dying. Since its signing it had been violated day after day, week after week. There had been a rise in violence after the signing of the DPA. Villages were attacked and bombed. Militia acting on the ground were supported by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).
In order to save the DPA I presented a five point plan, to be implemented before the end of the year. First, get everybody on board, including all parties which have so far refused to sign. Their constituency is nearly half the people of Darfur. They are no outlaws. They should not be excluded. They should not be punished or humiliated but persuaded to join by ensuring that their interests and rights will be fully taken into account.
Second, improve the DPA. The text is good, from a legal and institutional point of view. But it is not good enough, because it is politically rejected by many. So, improve the text, add elements – more compensation, some political adjustments and, above all, guarantees that the Janjaweed will be disarmed – in order to make the DPA a sustainable basis for real peace.
Third, make the Ceasefire Commission (CFC) fully representative and authoritative, so that all violations of the DPA can be addressed, timely and adequately.
Fourth, decide on a truce as a complement to the ceasefire. A truce between all parties, including the Government, who violate the ceasefire and continue fighting. Without a truce talks do not make sense.
Fifth, get off the collision course. Do not exchange accusations and blames. Now that the Council has invited the consent of the Government to a transition towards a UN peacekeeping force, make it attractive for the Government to invite. Offer a package, including incentives such as lifting of trade sanctions and the provision of debt relief, in return for peace and peace keeping.
Saving the Darfur Peace Agreement
Since my last brief the leadership of UNMIS has worked hard to realize this five point plan. We proposed that the present AU peacekeeping force stay in Darfur until a transition towards a UN force takes place, be it on 1 January 2007 or later. The transition, of course, has to take place. However, confrontation causing unnecessary collisions should be avoided. There should be no void between the end of AMIS and the start of UNMIS in order to avoid uncertainty on the ground, for displaced persons as well as aid workers. We advocated a gradual transition, starting with an ‘AMIS plus plus’ approach: AMIS plus support from some friendly countries plus support from the UN. I am very pleased that this approach has been incorporated in the positive exchange of letters between the SG Kofi Anan, AU President Konare and President Bashir. President Bashir said that he personally agreed with this approach. This opened the door for less confrontation and more cooperation.
Second: we have argued for an improvement to the DPA in our contacts with all the parties. The Government has not been responsive to the idea, so far. The other party which has signed the agreement has shown some flexibility. In my discussions with representatives of the rebel movements that had not signed the DPA I have repeatedly argued: ‘Do not reject what has been achieved. Do not throw out the child along with the bath water. Do not start all over. Build upon the present text. It is not as bad as you think. As a matter of fact, it is quite good, but further improvement should be possible’. I have clear indications that the message has gone through, though perhaps more through the commanders on the ground than through the political leaders in the diasporas.
This is the only credible basis for efforts to broaden the support for the DPA. The parties that reject the DPA are thoroughly divided amongst themselves. My message, brought in person to the commanders in North and South Darfur, belonging to SLM Minawi, SLM Wahid, SLM Free Will, SLM Classic, the G19, the National Redemption Front and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has been ‘unite, re-unite, re-unite for peace, not in order to combine military forces to get stronger and attack’. Quite a number of initiatives, by different sponsors, have started this month. We have said that the UN itself would not add another one. It would further complicate the situation. However, we have made it clear that the UN can endorse any initiative in this regard, provided that its strategic objectives are clear, it is fully transparent, wholly inclusive – nobody left out – and oriented towards peace.
Our criticism of the CFC has been heard. The new AMIS Force Commander has put the violations of the ceasefire on the agenda. However, the non-signatories are still excluded from the CFC and its procedures. The Government is still taking the position that they have to sign before being given access to the table where various interpretations of the ceasefire are being discussed.
The last element of my five point plan – a truce – is essential. There is no credible talking, no legitimate broadening of support without the cessation of hostilities on the ground.
During the last month we have endeavored to get such a truce accepted. We proposed to the Government and to all movements to obey Ramadan as a month of tranquility. The Government did not react, quite a few movements responded positively. I went to South Darfur to have discussions with the Governor, with various movements and with tribal leaders. As a consequence new tribal reconciliation conferences were started, ably led by the Governor of South Darfur. We also took the initiative for all-party talks about the situation in Geraida. Tensions in the town lessened. I flew to the Jabal Marra for talks with commanders in the mountains, belonging to different movements. They had not signed the DPA but they promised me to stick to the signatures of earlier ceasefire arrangements and responded positively to my plea to talk rather than fight.
A week later I flew to North Darfur, in order to visit the areas across the frontline between the forces of the Government and the G19/NRF forces. They had fought two major battles lately, one in Um Siddir and the other in Karayare, close to the border with Chad. These battles resulted in a large number of causalities. I addressed a meeting attended by hundreds of rebel commanders. I urged them to ‘unite for peace, not war’ as I also did one day later in Tawilla while meeting commanders from SLM Minawi.
In Birmaza I confronted the rebel commanders with a number of demands. ‘Stop attacking AMIS – now that the UN is giving support to AMIS, I will consider any attack on AMIS an attack on the UN. Stop looting vehicles of aid workers. If the looting continues we cannot continue assistance. Stop attacking the Government forces. You may think that you have won two battles, but the Government forces are capable of defeating you also. Whatever the outcome of the fight, this is not the road to peace’.
The commanders, who had come from all over the region, promised to sit together and respond to my plea. However, they committed themselves right on the spot not to attack Government forces anymore.
I returned to El Fasher and Khartoum to convey this message to the Government. However, within fourteen hours of my departure the Government air force bombed the area where I had met the rebel leaders. Today, they bombed the same area again. I consider this characteristic of the present attitude: the Government is mobilizing more and more forces in the region, amongst others, those coming from the South. Security Council resolutions forbidding offensive air operations are being ignored. Instead of being disarmed, militia and Janjaweed are being incorporated into the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces (PDF).
The Government continues to violate the DPA and other ceasefire agreements. They claim only to fight the non-signatories, but this is in conflict with both the spirit and the letter of the agreement. The past ceasefire agreements are part and parcel of the DPA. All attacks, by or on any party, thus constitute a violation of the DPA. The agreement requires, from all parties, to cease fire and to pull back into zones under their control on the day of the signature. Any effort to expand these zones is a violation as well. I can come to one conclusion only: the Government though having signed the DPA, is still seeking a military solution.
This is probably the last time I am addressing the Council in order to brief the members about the latest developments in Sudan. In July this year I had already informed the SG that I would not seek an extension of my present tenure after 31 December 2006. I have always based my analysis of the situation based on facts gathered on the ground. The recent announcement of the Government, considering my mission terminated and requesting me to leave the country, makes it obviously impossible for me to continue briefing the Council with knowledge and insight from the ground. USG Guehenno has already briefed you about the response by the Secretary General.
In the two and a half years that I have led the peacekeeping mission in Sudan, the Mission has had to deal with many difficulties. However, I can assure the Council that we have been able to establish a good Mission, smoothly functioning, well run with many dedicated peace workers: military, police and civilians. We had to build it up from scratch. We still face major problems, due to the absence of viable infrastructure, lack of cooperation from the authorities, bureaucratic red tape and a high vacancy rate. However, despite all this the mission is fulfilling its task.
We have had our successes: the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South, the gradual withdrawal of the SAF from the South and the complete withdrawal of SPLM from the East, the joint efforts to prevent escalations of community violence in the South, the start of capacity building of the new Government of Southern Sudan, the gradual transition from humanitarian assistance to refugee return and reconstruction of Southern Sudan, the establishment of institutions based on the CPA, the endless efforts to establish peace in Darfur resulting in the signing of the DPA, the substantial decrease in the number of people killed in Darfur after the Security Council provided UNMIS with the additional mandate for Darfur, the increase in the humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur, made possible by thousands of dedicated aid workers and resulting in a major decrease in malnutrition and mortality.
In my various briefings to the Council I have highlighted the successes as well as the failures. The road ahead is long and arduous. But I am convinced that peace is possible and that peace keeping, under the guidance of the Security Council, remains the only credible solution. I have enjoyed my discussions with the Council and am grateful for the support given to me by the members of the Council in the past two and a half years.
I have one request for the Council. Please stay alert and remain attuned. After all the sorrow in Sudan, in the South as well as in Darfur, the people over there, neglected and oppressed for decades, should not be forgotten in the turbulence of other world affairs. They are counting on you.