April 21, 2018

Four years on, nothing learned

“Hey, I heard on the radio that there’s a peace agreement for Darfur!” was the excited message a non-Darfur-obsessed friend (I do have a few)  greeted me with yesterday. “Hmm” I replied, un-enthused – clearly not the response my friend was expecting.

At the time I hadn’t read the actual agreement just signed by the Sudanese government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Doha.  That didn’t stop me from opining – The government wants a deal so they can look good before the elections, and the JEM wants a deal now that Sudan has kissed and made up with Chad, which until now was providing JEM with military support in a proxy war against Sudan. So I’m not sure it means anything. What happens after the elections? Or once the Chad/Sudan deal breaks down? And anyway – it’s just one rebel group.

Later that night I felt bad about having thrown cold water so readily on something I didn’t yet have the details on. Maybe I was getting too jaded and cynical. So I held off actually blogging about this until I read the text of the agreement

Having now read it, I’m sad to report that my cynicism can, in this case, be accurately described as realism.

There is one nice article (#8) about what the Government will do for Darfuris – the same kind of words on paper we have already seen on multiple occasions and which one must withhold judgment on until seeing if there will be any seriousness in implementation. Beyond that, this Framework Agreement is an awful lot about deciding the future of Darfur “subject to negotiation between the two Parties.” Really?? Nearly four years after making this exact mistake the first time with the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (also signed between the government and just one rebel group), are we really walking into an agreement like this again?

Not that I’m not happy for a JEM-GOS ceasefire to last as long as it can (which is likely to be as long as Chad stops supporting JEM). Not that it’s not, probably, a net good for the GOS to stop panicking that JEM might storm Khartoum. But let’s not kid ourselves. If Darfur was a simple conflict between the government and one rebel group, then perhaps this would be meaningful. But what about all the other actors involved? All the other rebel movements? The Janjaweed (and former Janjaweed and associated communities)? And most of all, the millions who are still sitting in displaced camps?

P.S. – If anyone out there has a more upbeat perspective, please share . . .

P.P.S. – I do have something positive to share – a good day for Australian law

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