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Visits to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia

By Jimmy Carter

I made a brief visit to East Africa from April 18 to 21, and had a chance to consult with Presidents Moi and Museveni and with Prime Minister Meles.

I also visited Khartoum, where I had extensive meetings with President Omer al Bashir, Foreign Minister Taha, Peace Minister Khalifa, Dr. Turabi, and some rebel leaders who, I understand, signed a Peace Agreement (PA) with the government yesterday.

They all seem quite satisfied with the agreement, and claim that it transcends the mutual accommodations proposed in IGAD's Declaration of Principles (DOP). I have examined the text closely, and find that there are some encouraging points. The most important are:

  • The recognition that the Sudan is a multi-racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious community within which all men and women are to be treated equally and share in all aspects of life and political responsibilities. (As you know, these commitments are contrary to strict Shari'a law.)
  • Following a cessation of hostilities and a general amnesty, there is proposed a four-year transition period during which a joint military committee and a political coordinating council will maintain peace and evolve a permanent constitution, independent judiciary system, and national laws. (At best, this can encompass a multi-party system.)
  • At the end of this period, citizens of the 10 Southern states will have an internationally monitored referendum to decide whether they prefer national unity (if harmonious agreements can be achieved) or secession (if the Southerners are not satisfied).

A brief summary of the Peace Agreement is outlined below. Although the text is promising, the devil is always in the details. Intensive negotiations will be necessary before satisfactory agreements can be reached between the Government of Sudan and those with whom differences still exist. For example, it is not clear whether final political authority will rest with interpreters of Islamic law or with democratically based institutions. (The Sudanese claim the latter, but their enemies suspect the former.)

I was not able to meet personally with Dr. John Garang because of military activity near his location at Yei. However, his foreign minister, Deng Alor, assured me in Lokichokio, Kenya, that the SPLA/M will be willing to join in these negotiations, based on the texts of the Peace Agreement and the Declaration of Principles. President Bashir had given me the same general assurances. Everyone seems to agree that such efforts can be conducted only under the auspices of IGAD and the chairmanship of President Daniel arap Moi.

The alternative to peace talks will be a continuation and likely escalation of military activities in Southern Sudan and along the borders with Uganda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. While Sudanese exiles and southern rebels pursue military victory, this scenario is unlikely without a massive conflict.

Summary of Peace Agreement Text:

Between the Government of Sudan and rebel groups SSIM, SPLM, EDF, SSIG, and a separate one with the Nuba Mountain groups.

  • An organic law, with effect of a constitutional decree.
  • After 4 years, a referendum in the 10 southern states to decide unity of secession. OAU and other observers will be invited to monitor the referendum.
  • Although Sharia and custom are the original sources of legislation, states may develop their own customary law and enact other laws peculiar to the needs of their citizens.
  • Cultural diversity is recognized, and freedom of religion and belief guaranteed. All personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. shall be governed by the customs of those involved.
  • Power and wealth shall be shared equitably.
  • A Coordinating Council shall implement the Peace Agreement.
  • As a multi-racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious community, all Sudanese men and women shall share equally in all aspects of life and political responsibilities.
  • The judiciary of Sudan shall be independent and decentralized. Every state may compose its own court system.
  • Federal and state powers are enumerated. For instance, the states shall control missionary activities.
  • There will be a free market economy. Oil and other resources will be shared equitably.
  • Southern citizens shall participate in an equitable way in all national activities.
  • A general amnesty shall be declared.
  • The President in consultation with other peace faction leaders, shall form the Coordinating Council. Governors of states will be members. The Council may choose its own site.
  • Southern defense forces shall remain separate and under their own command. National forces will be reduced to peacetime levels.
  • A joint Technical Military Committee, with equal members from the national and southern forces, will devise and enforce peace agreements
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