Calling Mama Mongella: The stability of Sudan is fundamental to the whole of the African continent
The stability of Sudan is fundamental to the whole of the African continent - By Mary Brazier
Allow me to share with you my thoughts following my visit last week to Sudan, where I made a field trip to Khartoum and Darfur. I brought back with me three conclusions: the stability of Sudan has not yet been achieved; Sudan's stability is fundamental to the entire African continent; and the international community, notably Europe, has a duty to act and to achieve results in Sudan.
The stabilisation of Sudan has not yet been achieved. Yes, the North-South peace agreement signed on 9 January in Nairobi was a major event. Peace has returned to the South after more than 20 years of civil war. A government of national unity, containing former rebels from the South belonging to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, was formed on 19 September. But this is still not enough. The new government in Khartoum must function as a genuine government of national unity. I am not certain that this is the case today.
I have called on the representatives of the former rebel movement, notably Salva Kiir, the first vice-president of Sudan, to continue along the path marked out by the late John Garang, who died on 30 July, a path leading to the construction of a new, united and democratic Sudan. The goal of the peace process cannot not be secession by the South. That would be a disaster for the entire region. To avoid that, the democratic Sudan desired by the Sudanese people must be created.
The stability of Sudan has been all the more uncertain since the Darfur crisis erupted in 2003. This is a major crisis. Crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed there. It is the responsibility of the new government in Khartoum to resolve the crisis. It is an illusion to believe that there is a military solution. The only solution is political. Peace must be negotiated in Abuja, in the framework set out by the African Union. I appeal to the new government of Khartoum to form a common position for Abuja without delay. I appeal to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to talk to the rebels. I appeal to the rebel movements, who claim to defend the interests of the civilian population in Darfur, to come and negotiate in good faith in Abuja. Failing that, I fear that the war in Darfur will sweep away the Khartoum government of national unity, call into question the peace in the South that was obtained at such a high price, and set in train a regional crisis stretching from N'Djamena to Asmara, as President Deby of Chad told me in N'Djamena, on my way back from Sudan.
Sudan's stability is fundamental for the stability of the entire African continent. With Angola and, very probably, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan's return to normality would make it possible to create, around South Africa and Nigeria, the framework for a new, peaceful and prosperous Africa.
I am certain that Sudan has the capacity to be a motor, amongst others, for Africa. It is the largest country in Africa. It has vast potential with its agriculture, its water resources and its oil. But Sudan's greatest strength lies in its people. They are well trained and able. Sudan's engineers and lawyers are in demand in the Gulf states and its musicians and writers are an inspiration to the entire African sub-region.
Above all, Sudan has the capacity to set an example not just to Africa but to the Arab world. It is a country in which the Arab and African worlds merge. Its 572 different peoples have always defined themselves as being Sudanese. It is also a country where religions merge, where Animists, Moslems and Christians have always known how to cultivate tolerance. Finally, it is a country that has already known democracy.
Thus, Sudan, a country at the crossroads between the Arab and African worlds and between Islam and Christianity, can become a testing ground for coexistence and tolerance where democracy can be nurtured.
That is the reason why we, the international community, must remain engaged in Sudan. We must maintain our commitment and we must continue to demand results. The European Union is, of course, present on all fronts: political, economic and humanitarian. It has already mobilised EUROS 570 million and is supporting, in Darfur itself, the efforts of the African Union monitoring mission; this support includes European officers - police and military - who are present on the ground. The European Union is working hard to persuade the Darfur rebels to come to the negotiating table in Abuja. The United States is playing a fundamental role in Sudan, and we must continue to work together. They have invested in particular in finding a solution in the South. The United Nations are involved, naturally, and are currently deploying a significant monitoring force in the South. We need the good will of everyone and we need to mobilise the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Finally, and above all, we must support the African Union, which is doing a great deal of work on the ground and is seeking to secure a lasting settlement of the crisis in Darfur. That is why the cooperation under way in Darfur between the European Union and the African Union, which I regard as exemplary, is so important and why it sets a good precedent for our relations in the future in other African theatres. [End of article]
- - -
Message to Sudan: Africa's future depends on you to make peace
There are millions of educated Sudanese, African and Arab women living in and near Africa, and around world, who are able and willing to take seats at the negotiating table of the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, and sit in positions of power in the Sudan, to represent the women and children of Sudan whose voices will never be heard.
How much longer can the world manage to help and feed Africa? All the Sudanese boys with their toys playing childish games in the Sudan need to have their heads knocked together by some smart African and Arabic women who really care about Mother Earth and its children. There is not a lot of time left to waste. As noted here recently, the head of the African Union said in 27 years time, the population of Africa will have increased to such proportions it will become unmanageable for the rest of the world.
The future of Africa is in the hands of today's boys and girls. Education is key. There are quick and easy solutions. All it would take right now is for a handful of men in Khartoum and western, eastern and southern Sudan, to arrange for someone to pick up the phone and call one of the world's leading African female peacemakers and say: "Here are 12 air tickets to Abuja, we need the help of you and eleven others like yourself, in representing the millions of displaced Sudanese women and children and the two million others who have perished through war whose voices will never be heard."
Even I would have no trouble in putting together a list of powerful and highly regarded African women who are connected to the best female peacebrokers in the world.
A cursory glance through www.1000peacewomen.org and its list of 1000 peacewomen connected to millions of women around the world who work day in day out to promote peace proves there is no shortage of females who could be called upon to help broker peace and unite Sudan to ensure that every boy and girl, from nursery age on up, receives an education, before it is too late to do anything.
Here are some examples of extraordinary African women:
Like the remarkable Gertrude Mongella, the highest ranking elected woman in Africa who many refer to as Mama Mongella or Mama Beijing. Please read Gertrude Mongella - The first president of the Pan-African Parliament and be sure to click into the links within the post that leads to a discussion hosted by SARPN and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. And read 27 April 2005 Sudan Watch post: PAP urges Sudanese to disarm Janjaweed - Gertrude Mongella, President of PAP.
Photo: Gertrude Ibengwa Mongella, an astute diplomat, at an official function at the US Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. At present, Mongella is a member of CCM's top decision-making organ, the National Executive Committee. She is also Tanzania's Goodwill Ambassador to the World Health Organisation, a member of the Council of The Future at Unesco and the President of NGO Advocacy in Africa.
She also serves as Special Advisor to the Economic Commission of Africa as well as a member of the AU's African Women's Committee for Peace and Development. Through an NGO she formed in 1996, Advocacy for Women in Africa (AWA), she is involved in the expansion of education in Ukerewe.
Photo: Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai - the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize 2004 who is quoted as saying:
"When our resources become scarce, we fight over them. In managing our resources and in sustainable development, we plant the seeds of peace."
Photo: Winnie Byanyima who is working at the African Union.
These three women should be part of a group of 12 women at the negotiating table on the Darfur peace talks in Abuja - as soon as possible.
And, of course: Rebecca de Mabior, widow of Sudan SPLM leader Dr John Garang, who has just been named a minister and part of new govt of the South 24 Oct 2005.
Photo: Rebecca de Mabior (Sudan Tribune)
Photo: Liberian presidential candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wades through supporters at a campaign rally in the capital, Monrovia. She is a leader in the field of 22. (Photos By Chris Hondros Getty Images) - Liberia's 'Iron Lady' Goes for Gold 4 Oct 2005.
- - -
Observers have all but lost hope that a peace deal can be brokered for Darfur by the UN deadline of end of the year
The sixth round of Darfur peace talks just ended in the Nigerian capital Abuja and have been abandoned until Nov 20 or 21.
Meanwhile, Darfur rebels are to meet to choose new leaders at a unity conference Oct 25-28 in SLA areas [now changed to Oct 28]
UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres said Oct 21 [LA Times] he sees "a very serious degeneration of the situation" in Darfur.
"People are dying and dying in large numbers," he said and issued a warning that the cease-fire in Darfur is unravelling, which could lead to a catastrophic increase in deaths in coming weeks, spreading instability in sub-Saharan Africa and resulting in many more refugees.
"The world has just weeks to help restore peace in Sudan's Darfur region or risk watching it slide back into civil war with repercussions for the whole region," he said.
- - -
More of Africa's peace seekers
Photo: Petronille Vaweka (center) talks with an Army chief. (Jiro OSE/Special to the CS Monitor)
Read about the incredible work of Jeanne Banyere, also known as Mama Jeanne, and the injuries caused by violent rape.
Mama Jeanne - who also looks after 62 orphans - is one of a handful of dedicated people from the Women's Protestant Federation that network remote parts of the Congo, providing counselling and hope.
They are often the only chance these women, ostracised by their communities, have of getting to Docs (Doctors on Call for Service) and receiving vital operations they need to rebuild their vaginas.
Photo via Congo Watch: Sexual abuse by men continues and Women take brunt of human rights abuse.
For the record, please note report from Khartoum 18 Oct 2005: Sudan rejects laws on women rights which contradict Islam.
- - -
Men and women are two wheels of a chariot
Final word here is a quote from Desmond Tutu:
"When we heard the revelations of unspeakable atrocities committed during the apartheid era we were appalled at how low we human beings can sink, that we had this horrendous capacity for evil, all of us.
Then we heard the moving stories of the victims of those and other atrocities relating how despite all they had suffered they were willing to forgive their tormentors, revealing a breathtaking magnanimity and generosity of spirit, then we realised that we have a wonderful capacity for good.
Yes people are fundamentally good. They, we, are made for love, generosity, sharing, compassion - for transcendence.
We are made to reach for the stars."
- - -
UPDATE Oct 28:
UN: Women victims of sex abuse - Women an 'untapped resource'
Five years after a landmark United Nations resolution committed governments to protect women from the abuses of war, the security council condemned the continuing sexual exploitation and violence against women.
A presidential statement adopted at the end of a daylong council meeting on Thursday also expressed deep concern at the continuing lack of representation of women in peace negotiations and peace-building activities.
"The security council believes more must be done in order to achieve the greater participation and effective contribution of women at the negotiating table and in developing and implementing post-conflict strategies and programmes," said Romania's UN ambassador Mihnea Motoc.
Full report 28/10/2005 News 24.com (SA)
Security Council stresses urgency of full, effective implementation of 'landmark' resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. Yay!
[Message to UN: It's no good continuously TALKING about it -- Please DO SOMETHING about it -- NOW!!]