Enough has long maintained that the current process for achieving peace in Darfur, led by U.N. mediator Djibril Bassolé and touted by U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration, is headed in the wrong direction (…though rumor has it that the two don’t exactly see eye to eye). Efforts to kick-start that process, which Bassolé and Gration have been busy laying the groundwork for, have demonstrated a misunderstanding of why past processes have failed.
In a paper released this afternoon, Enough’s Omer Ismail, Colin Thomas-Jensen, Maggie Fick, and John Prendergast laid out where the current approach is going wrong and how an alternate and, we believe, far more effective roadmap to sustainable peace would look.
Central to this proposed plan is that substantive peace proposals must be on the table for stakeholders to debate. The Declaration of Principles, or DOP, which was signed by key rebel groups in 2005, is a good place to start. But to avoid the pitfalls of the 2006 talks in Abuja, Nigeria that produced the dead-on-arrival Darfur Peace Agreement, Bassolé and international guarantors, like the United States, need to jump start the current process with a draft peace proposal which addresses the grievances of rebel groups, civil society leaders, women, and the Darfuri population more broadly.
The process thus far has been flawed on two significant levels, as the paper aptly describes:
Efforts by President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, Major General Scott Gration, have not effectively advanced peace in Darfur because General Gration, Bassolé, and others continue to labor under the false notion that the peace process is stalled largely because of divisions within the rebel groups. This is simply not the case. Even a fully unified Darfur rebel movement (itself highly unlikely) would consider the current process as a non-starter. (…) Despite a near consensus view that the people of Darfur must have a direct say in their political future, there has been no clear forum for legitimate Darfur civil society groups to participate in the process.
Bassolé’s weakness and the lack of high-level support for his mediation efforts has helped embolden Egypt and Libya to launch parallel peace efforts or otherwise undermine the Doha process. Doha right now is less a venue for talks than it is a powerful symbol of the international community’s failure to construct a single, viable peace process. Worse, the revelation in The Washington Post on September 30, 2009, that Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, using Qatar as an intermediary, has been working with former U.S. National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane to help “restore a normal relationship” between Sudan and the United States casts into sharp doubt the efficacy of Qatar as a neutral convener.
Significantly, and in light of all that needs to be done, Enough is calling for the elections slated for April 2010 to be postponed in Darfur. For the full list of recommendations, read the entire strategy paper A Political Settlement for Darfur: A Practical Roadmap.
Photo: U.N. mediator Djibril Bassolé (AP/Maneesh Bakshi)