Friday, April 28, 2006

Draft Darfur Peace Agreement (DDPA): A Just Peace or Peace at all Costs?

By John A. Akec

The government of Sudan and Darfur armed Movements have been given 48 hours ending Friday night to present opinion on a draft Darfur Peace Agreement proposed by African Union mediators after more than two years of grilling negotiations. If signed, it will put an end to a devastating war that broke out in January 2002 and which has claimed more than 300,000 lives and displaced 1.5 million people from their homes.

The agreement offers Darfur Movements a position of Senior Assistant to the President in the Government of National Unity (GONU), who will be the fourth highest-ranking official in the government and will exercise wide powers and political influence. SLA/M and JEM will nominate 3 persons among whom the President will choose a Senior Assistant. An Advisor to the President from Darfur will also be appointed by the Senior Assistant to the President.

And according to the Draft Peace Agreement seen by this author, a Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) will be set up that will be charged with responsibility of implementing Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), supervising reconstruction and economic development, and helping in return and resettlement of the refugees. It will consist mainly of the Senior Assistant to the President, the Governors of the three Darfur States, Heads of the Darfur Rehabilitation and Resettlement Commission, Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund, Darfur Land Commission, Darfur Security Commission, and Darfur Peace and Reconciliation Council. SLA/M and JEM will have representatives in TDRA. Also, a nominee of SLA/M and JEM will be governor of one of 3 Darfur States, in addition to 2 cabinet ministers and 1 advisor to the governor in each of the 3 states. The Senior Assistant to the President will head Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDA)

Darfur Movements will also have 3 state ministers in the federal government, 1 cabinet minister in the executive of Khartoum State, in addition of four cabinet ministers already held by Darfurians in the government of national unity. The Darfur Movements will also occupy 12 seats in the National Legislative Assembly .

In wealth sharing, the share of Darfur will be worked out by a new body called Fiscal and Financial Allocation and Monitoring Commission (FFAMC) that will be formed as part of this agreement. FFAMC will be an independent body that will make recommendations about the formula to be used for funds allocations to the President and the National Legislative Assembly. A Panel of Experts aid FFAMC in its work. Members of the Panel will be nominated by FFAMC and approved by the National Legislative Assembly. Darfur will be appropriately represented. Mechanisms have been deigned into FFAMC in order to protect its independence against government interference.

To speed up reconstruction process of the war ravaged region, Darfur will receive a payment of US$ 300 million from the National Account Fund in 2006, and another two consecutive payments of US$ 200 million in 2007 and 2008. This is in addition to its allocation from National Account as will be determined by the FFAMC.

There will be a referundum by July 2010 at the latest in which Darfurians will decide between the amalgamation of current three Darfur States into one administrative unit called Darfur Region, or retaining the status quo of three self-governing Darfur States with no Region. There will also be a boundary commission to delinate Darfur's North-South boundary as of first of January 1956.

The SLM/A and JEM combatants will be disarmed, demobilised, or redeployed. Those qualified and competent will be integrated into Sudan Armed Forces. The agreement calls for fair representation of Darfurians at all levels of Sudan Armed Forces and security organs. The combatants who will be integrated into Sudan Armed Forces will not be transferred away from Darfur region in the next 5 years and are protected from being laid off by any new redundancy plans in the armed forces over that same period. The government of Sudan will also be required to downsize its forces in Darfur and in border with Chad. The process will be heavily monitored and policed by Security Commission through African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).

Since April 2004, the government of Sudan has been negotiating with Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and Justice and Equality Movement to bring a peaceful end to war in Darfur. In March 2006, the UN and African Union peace mediators gave Darfur warring parties a deadline to reach an agreement by 30th April 2006. On Tuesday 25th April 2006, the AU's chief mediator, Salim Ahmed Salim, presented to the government of Sudan, and the Darfur Movements with a draft peace agreement which he described as 'balanced and fair" to all the parties. All the parties were given 48 hours to respond to AU draft proposals.

Both the SLM/A and JEM demanded for the position of vice president (currently held by Ali Osman Taha), the governorship of Khartoum State, 8 federal cabinet ministers, and a single Darfur State (or region) instead of the current 3 unconnected but self-governing states. In addition, SLA and JEM are demanding compensation for each individual who suffered loss in the war.

On its part, the NCP dominated government of Sudan is ready to make concessions without compromising its 52 percent majority in the National Assembly, and the post of vice president, and argues that administering Darfur as 3 states will bring power closer to people.

One glaring problem with this agreement is that SLA/M and JEM combined will still lack the majority to decidedly influence policies in the 3 Darfur States to achieve their goals for taking up arms. Hence, while Darfur Movements will be represented in the government, they cannot dictate the terms to the current Darfur states administration that was installed by the government of Sudan. This situation is unlike that of the Government of Southern Sudan where 70 percent of the executive and Legislative Assembly, and executive and legislative of branches of 10 Southern States, are held by the SPLM.

Furthermore, the agreement talks about what will be done and how it will be done. It does not give specific numbers or targets or how much is good enough. This is a great weakness as it leaves much to be decided in future. It is potential minefield for conflict, greed, and dishonesty. In order to succeed, the implementation of the agreement will demand very close involvement of the international partners and third parties to verify, interpret, or arbitrate disputes.

In fact, this agreement with its dependence on third parties to monitor compliance with terms of the agreement, it will open up Sudan to the greatest international community ever.

Sudan government is optimistic that a deal will be struck on Sunday 30 April 2006, which is the deadline set by the UN to warring parties in Darfur to reach an agreement. SLA/M leader Abdalwaheed Al-Nur said that it would be impossible to sign the draft agreement as it leaves out much of Movements demands, specially that related to the position of the vice president. As of Friday night, JEM was yet to send their comments on the draft agreement to the AU mediators.

Implemented correctly, the agreement can bring justice and peace. And without spelling out how much is just, it leaves the agreement hanging on the good faith of the government of Sudan and the willingness of the international community to closely get involved. And that is a minefield.

It should go without saying that much energy has been injected into the negotiating process since the vice president Ali Osman Taha joined the Abuja peace talks earlier this month. The miracle maker that he is, there could still be many surprises in the pipeline that could dramatically change the situation between now and Sunday, 30 April 06.