New Face of African Politics.
“Looking at Africa and Diaspora with New Eyes”
By Self-Help News
(For the Afrika and Diaspora Institute (AaDI))
S udan, African’s largest country has been consistently in the news, both for positive and negative reasons.
Positive – the ending of 21 years civil war with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005. The CPA was between the National Congress (NC) and Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM). Members of the NC are predominantly Arabs and Muslims and members of the SPLM are Africans, Christians and traditional African religions.
All parties to the agreement are now governing Sudan within a Government of National Unity (GNU). The NC is the dominate Party of the (GNU). The SPLM governs a semi-independent South Sudan, under the name of Government of South Sudan (GOSS). The Head of GOSS is the First Vice-Preside nt of the Republic of Sudan.
Negative – the bleeding wounds of the Darfur problem. Darfur is situated in western Sudan, covering one-fifth of the country and is home to nearly seven million people. It covers an area the size of France (the size of Texas, in the USA).
President Omar el-Bashir is reported to have admitted that it was his government’s right of self-defence and the maintenance of law and order, in his vast country. Citizens in the Darfur region of Sudan rose up in February 2003, demanding better living conditions and equitable distributions of the nation’s newly found wealth.
The ruling elites, Arabs, originally from the Yemen, now based in the North of the Sudan, disagreed with the people’s claims and came down with iron fists. The people resisted and paid the price. The Darfur problem has been Sudan’s nightmare and a major public relations disaster.
Field Marshal el-Bashir insisted on his government’s right to organise and support local militias, otherwise known locally as ‘Janjaweed’, to assist in maintaining law and order.
Resistance to injustice
This resulted in vast numbers of Sudanese nationals killed. UN figure put it as much as 200,000 men, women and children, including the destructions of villages and livelihoods. Millions became internally displaced persons, living in make shift camps, depending on international subsistence to survive. Out of this chaos came powerful African groups, resisting and challenging the Arab dominated Sudanese government.
Gamal Nkrumah, writing in Cairo based AL-AHRAM, an Arab weekly on-line publication, during July 2004, said “Armed resistance groups stepped up resistance against government forces and their Janjaweed allies. From the mountain stronghold in Jebel Marra they waged a campaign against government forces. The two main groups are the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
“Al-Mahdi who has just come back from a tour of the displaced people's camps in Darfur said that he was horrified by the scenes he witnessed there of utter destruction and deprivation. ‘The government's reaction to armed resistance was heavy-handed and brutal. The authorities enlisted the support of the Janjaweed who unleashed a reign of terror on the civilian population of Darfur and who fled the countryside in droves heading towards the outskirts of towns where they congregated in makeshift camps, living under deplorable conditions. Others fled across the border into Chad," Gamal concluded.
What the killed and displaced have in common is that they are non-Arab, ‘native’ Africans and Muslims. They are referred to disparagingly by some Arabs from the North of the Country as “over baked”, a reference to the peoples’ melanin rich black pigmentations.
The international Community got involved. The International Criminal Tribunal and the United Nations identified fifty individuals reported to be President el-Bashir’s subordinates. There is a question mark as to whether the President and his top aids’ names are also on that list.
The African Union
The African Union (AU) is an organisation consisting of fifty-three African states, which was established on 26 June 2001. The AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established in May 1963 and the amalgamated African Economic Community (AEC), mandated by the OAU in May 1994. The AU aims to have a single currency and a single integrated defence force, as well as other institutions of state, including a cabinet for the AU Head of State. The purpose of the union is to help secure Africa's democracy, human rights, and a sustainable economy, especially by bringing an end to intra-African conflict and creating an effective common market.
Sudan’s President Field Marshall Omar el-Bashir was expected to be appointed Chair of the AU, at its 6th Summit held in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital on 16-24 January 2006 and again at the 8th AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on 29-30 January 2007.
On both occasions Sudan’s expectations were dashed. The 53 member head of state nominated Chad and Ghana respectively for the position of Chair. Sudan might well argue that “AU pledge is empty promise.”
The AU is receiving attention and proper international respect. Sudan got rejected by other African nations, on both occasions, as a result of its failure to resolve the Darfur problem and the negative world publicity being generated by the seemingly endless carnage and displacement of Darfur’s African population.
There is hope
Amidst the widespread and indiscriminate slaughter or massacre, of Darfurian Africans by Arab militias, reported to be on the payrole of the Sudanese Arab elites, there is still hope.
Africa and Africans are now seen to be organising to resolve their own internal problems. Africa is respected and ‘trusted’ by the international community to conduct its own peace keeping programmes. This respect is not yet translated into the provisions of adequate resources to maintain peace keeping on a politically volatile Continent, currently positioning itself to taking its rightful place among world leaders, of the twenty first century.
Sudan’s Government of National Unity (GNU) publicly insisted that Africans must resolve their own internal problems. While UN technical and logistic support are welcome, UN troops are not, insisted Sudan’s GNU. In any event, Sudan argued, any troop movement by the UN must be commanded by an African Head.
The National Congress Party Stands Firm
The NC, the largest Party to the CPA, fears the re-colonisation of Africa by foreigners under false pretences of coming to give help - a modern ‘Trojan Horse’. The other Party to the CPA, the SPLM, disagreed and welcome UN troop’s deployment in Darfur, with the hope that such a deployment would stem violence against civilians.
Those who support UN troop’s deployment pointed to the fact that the GNU already agreed the deployment of 10,000 UN troops in South Sudan, part of the CPA provisions, for monitoring of the implementation of the CPA. The NC rejection of UN troops, opponents argued, was contradictory.
The AU supports the deployment of UN troops in Darfur. The AU has 7,000 troops in Darfur doing a reasonable job of peace keeping. Darfur is said to be the size of France. Seven thousand troops are not adequate for peace keeping in that land mass.
The AU consistently requested resources from the international community to pay for its peace keeping work. The AU is still short. Rather than giving the AU the resources requested, the international Community, via the UN, resolved to send in 22,500 foreign troops. Sudan’s GNU is consistent with its objections of the deployment of a UN force of 22,500, incorporating 7,000 AU troops already in Darfur.
As an alternative to large scale UN troops, the NC requested that the AU level of troops be expanded and adequate resources, technical and logistical support be given to the AU to increase its capacity and capability in keeping peace in Darfur.
Hybrid Agreement for Peace
Both the UN and the Sudanese GNU are reported to have agreed a compromise at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, held on 16 November 2006, and at Abuja, Nigeria, held on 30 November 2006. The reported terms of the agreement involved making available more resources and technical support for the AU peace keeping troops, supported by 22,500 UN troops, which would incorporate the AU 7,000 troops already deployed in Darfur. The UN troops would be supplemented by foreign police. This compromise is called a “hybrid”. Sudan has not yet given the go ahead for the implementation of this ‘hybrid’ idea.
Al-Qaeda, the name given to an international alliance of militant Islamist organisations established in 1988, by Osama bin Laden, was reported in 2006 to have warned Sudan not to allow UN troops in Darfur. The relevance of this reported warning is baffling, in respect of African matters, given GNU insistence on foreigners non-interference in African affairs.
Africa and Great World Powers
Great world powers, USA, Europe, China and India, are showing keen interests in Africa. China leads the pact and is likely to hold that position for the next thirty to forty years. China has gained that position because of its generous trade terms, and non-interference in trading partners’ internal affairs. Africa’s economy has begun to show growth. This is put down partly to China’s African long term investments and billions of bi-lateral trade agreements between China and Africa.
USA, Europe, China and India want African oil and mineral resources. China has no history of enslaving, colonising or economic exploiting Africa and Africans and does not add ‘governance’ conditions to development grants for Africa’s development.
China and Africa’s Long-term Relationships
This should have been no surprise to Sino-Africa observers. During 1958, China joined twenty nine African and Asian non-align nations at the Asian-African Conference - also known as the Bandung Conference. It was a meeting of Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent,organised by Egypt, Indonesia, Burma, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, and Pakistan.
The People's Republic of China’s Delegation was led by Zhōu Ēnlái, (1898-1976) China’s Prime Minister at the time. The conference met 18-24 April 1955, in Bandung, Indonesia, and was coordinated by Ruslan Abdulgani (1914-2005), Secretary General of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The evidence is that there is a long and protracted history of multi national co-operation between the Chinese and the African peoples. China’s non-align and non-interference in sovereign nations internal affairs are enshrined in the People’s Republic of China hard earned Constitution.
More recently, another level of China-Africa Cooperation was cemented. The Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, on 4-5 November 2006.