Another peace process?

"Another peace process?" Continued...

Issue: "Abolition of C.S. Lewis?," June 16, 2001

Credible engagement sooner or later will test U.S. sanctions policy. While the United States is now feeding the north, it is also blockading most legitimate forms of trade. Economic sanctions are in place to punish Khartoum for harboring and supporting terrorists, although the United States continues to exempt gum arabic, a soft drink ingredient, and other materials (see sidebar) on a select basis.

Relief workers know better than anyone that ending the war is the surest way to solve Sudan's persistent famine crises. Mr. Powell told reporters in Nairobi the United States is "going to work hard to bring a cease-fire into effect." He said he would work to reignite a regional peace drive known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD. Those statements quickly led to an IGAD summit in Nairobi on June 2, attended by Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir and rebel leader John Garang. The two could not agree on a cease-fire arrangement, nor did they even meet face-to-face, but talks will continue.

But some advocates for southern Sudan and its Christian minority oppose regional peace summitry. Rebel leaders and the interests they represent have not received the same standing in negotiations as the heads of state, they say. The Clinton administration's top Sudan diplomat also now opposes the process. "IGAD is the most dysfunctional organization I have seen," former U.S. special envoy Harry Johnston told WORLD. He said it bound Sudan's warring factions to negotiators Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo, Uganda, and Egypt. These, according to Mr. Johnston, have enough problems-ranging from corruption to their own civil wars-to render them ineffective peacemakers. "American and UN officials tied my hands" to that process, Mr. Johnston said. Mr. Johnston said that before the Bush administration names another special envoy, "he should be given a lot more authority than I had," including authority to negotiate one-on-one with the parties in the conflict.

As the Clinton administration learned in the Middle East, bringing warring factions to the table is the easy part. Laying out terms for peace requires willpower and a roadmap. So far, Mr. Powell and his advisors have been silent about what kind of peace the Bush administration would like to see. For Christians and other minorities in the south, the terms of peace will make all the difference.


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