Darfur: the threat of partition
The agreement signed by the Sudanese government and one of the rebel groups in Abuja early this month leaves much to be desired. According to opposition groups and observers, the agreement is defective and was only concluded under international, especially US, pressure. Many doubt that the agreement will end the turmoil in Darfur. Indeed, many fear that the agreement will polarise the country in a manner that threatens its unity.
The Abuja agreement came 18 months after the signing of the Naivasha agreement between the Sudanese government and Garang-led rebels. The two agreements are US-sponsored. The US is not interested in bringing peace to Sudan or preserving its unity and national interests. The US is solely interested in controlling Sudan and Africa, and the current US administration believes that a divided Sudan would be easier to control.
Few expect the Abuja agreement to hold. The agreement, many claim, failed to meet the wishes of the inhabitants of Darfur or satisfy the broader nation. Almost all Sudanese opposition groups are set against the Abuja agreement, with the exception of the signatory wing of one rebel movement in Darfur.
The Sudanese opposition blames the National Salvation government for the deterioration in the country. The opposition says that the regime agreed to the Naivasha agreement so as to stay in power for six more years (until the referendum is held in the south). Likewise, the opposition maintains that the Abuja agreement was another attempt by the regime to prolong its life regardless of the consequences for the country. Observers have noticed that the Sudanese government often makes a show of defiance prior to talks, and then ends up signing on the dotted line.
Do the Naivasha and Abuja agreements bear the marks of US policy? The Naivasha agreement has turned Sudan's south into an independent state waiting to happen. And the Abuja agreement envisions of an independent government in Darfur, one with loose links with the central government. The two agreements, therefore, are steps toward partition.
Sudanese politicians are warning of the "Somalisation" of Sudan. They warn of a future in which tribal chieftains fight one another -- as well as the central government -- in every part of Sudan. Amazingly, the Arabs don't seem perturbed by the prospect. Most Arab officials have voiced support for the Naivasha and Abuja deals.