Sudan: June 2, 2001

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: Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir and SPLA leader John Garang met in Nairobi and agreed to work toward a comprehensive ceasefire in Sudan. The summit was hosted by Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. Moi is chairman of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which organized the meeting between Beshir and Garang. President Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia also attended the summit. Moi defined four main obstacles to peace in Sudan: (1) eligibility to vote in a self-determination referendum for the south (a hotly debated issue based on defining who is a southerner after years of Khartoum re-settling tribes and trying to Arabize villages); (2) separation of religion and state (the black African Christians in the south will not accept Khartoums Islamic republic); (3) the system of government to be installed during an interim period (who controls the army and the budget, etc.); (4) the sharing of resources (which translates into, how do we divvy up the money from the oil wells?). Moi could have added a fifth component, but one that might have led to a Sudanese exit. Arabization (which includes slaving of black Africans in south Sudan) is itself a key issue. The voter eligibility issue Moi did raise is but one aspect of that problem. Forced Islamization (suggested in Mois second point) is another element in Arabization. Frankly, the agreement Beshir and Garang made to work toward a ceasefire isnt much of an agreement. Both sides have said this before. What maybe new, however, is a willingness by Beshir to consider a federal constitution for Sudan that would separate religion and state. Some Islamists in Khartoum, however, will never accept that. (Austin Bay)


 

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