As Moscow convenes a meeting of senior diplomats focused on Sudan today and tomorrow, a coalition of 23 international advocacy groups sent an open letter to all of the foreign ministers in attendance to voice “deep concern” about Sudan’s current trajectory. The conference, the letter noted, comes at a critical time within a short “window of opportunity” to prevent a return to war with numerous crucial milestones approaching in the next 15 months.
In particular, advocacy groups, including Enough, focused on the challenges posed by the national elections slated to take place six months from now. The coalition registered concern about the many intermediary steps that need to be resolved in this short timeframe:
The elections may trigger further conflict if key CPA provisions on the census, voter registration, border demarcation, oil revenues, referendum law, and freedoms of speech and assembly are not met. Illegitimate or violent elections will almost certainly destabilize Sudan further and compound the risk of wide-spread conflict in the country, possibly derailing preparations for the 2011 referendum.
Early reports from Moscow indicate that a plan forward for the Darfur peace process may now be on the table, beginning with a meeting next week in Doha for civil society groups. While news of civil society groups being a centerpiece of the strategy would be an encouraging development, revelations last week about backroom dealings between the government of Qatar, Khartoum, and a former national security advisor to President Reagan seriously call into question whether Qatar could serve as an honest broker to these talks.
Photo: Kremlin, Red Square, and St. Basil’s Cathedral. (Creative Commons/moaksey)