New Report: Economic Crisis, Coalescing Opposition Offer Chance for Targeted Economic Pressure on Bashir Government to Support Effective National Dialogue
December 17, 2014 — A report published today by the Enough Project calls on the international community to leverage economic pressure on the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, in support of an inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue in Sudan.
“Starving War, Feeding Peace – And Setting the Table for National Dialogue in Sudan,” by Akshaya Kumar and John Prendergast, identifies a window of opportunity to alter the political calculations of the Bashir government, including an expanding economic crisis in Sudan and new cooperation among diverse opposition groups. The analysis additionally proposes six key recommendations for an effective national political process, including the cessation of military attacks targeting civilians, humanitarian access, and meaningful participation by opposition groups and stakeholders.
Akshaya Kumar, report co-author and Enough Project policy analyst on Sudan and South Sudan, said: “While his rhetoric embraces dialogue, Bashir’s actions show a redoubled commitment to the war effort. But, as his government faces an economic melt-down, there may be an opportunity to change President Bashir’s Machiavellian calculations by leveraging targeted economic pressure, particularly on the country’s burgeoning gold exports.”
John Prendergast, report co-author and Founding Director of the Enough Project, said: “To succeed, any national dialogue process must include meaningful participation by Sudan’s armed and unarmed opposition, including traditional authorities, women’s groups, youth movements, trade unions, Arab militia leaders, refugees, and internally displaced people. But a credible dialogue can’t even be countenanced as long as there is a continuing — and even escalating — campaign of atrocities by the Sudanese government’s military and associated militias, from Darfur to the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, including the bombing of villages and mass rape by soldiers.”
Omer Ismail, Enough Project Senior Advisor, said: “Keeping peace processes separated by region allowed President Bashir to pit marginalized communities against one another, as they bargain for terms, seek justice, and advocate for international support. In doing so, Bashir’s government has managed to participate in dozens of siloed peace negotiations while avoiding basic questions that might threaten its grip on power. The recent coalescing of the armed and unarmed opposition means that divide-and-conquer dynamic is suddenly vulnerable.”
The report identifies a set of critical prerequisites for a national dialogue process to succeed in bringing sustainable peace and social justice to Sudan:
- An end to deliberate targeting of civilians by Sudan’s military, especially aerial bombardment and attacks by the Rapid Support Forces.
- Aid workers need unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of the country.
- The National Security Forces Act should be repealed. This law has allowed acts amounting to crimes against humanity to be carried out with impunity by government forces.
- Political detainees should be released and President Bashir should assure the continued safety of those in the political opposition.
- In accord with the demand from both civil society and the new Call for Sudan coalition, a new neutral administration should be established for the national dialogue.
- National dialogue administrators should engage in broad consultations, including traditional authorities, leaders of camps for the internally displaced people, refugees, and heads of Arab tribal militias.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.