30 May 2008 01:43 Africa/Lagos
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan responds to Save Darfur Coalition's joint statement
WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The historic race for the President of the United States is without a doubt an occasion that many are watching closely and whose results are awaited with baited breath as the outcome is one that will determine the course of the country and in many ways, history itself.
The candidates are advocates of change, a notion ornately captured in compelling slogans like Senator McCain's "straight talk", Hillary's "a change we need", Obama's "a change we can believe in". This message is accompanied by policies that seemingly offer a striking contrast to their predecessors. Their words are not only resonating with fellow citizens here in the U.S., but in fact have reverberated across the entire globe, where one finds a number of societies, countries and cultures fervently seeking for a change in the way they relate to the United States.
Ideally then, foreign policy should be one that reaches out to these citizens of the world. It should be one that strives for inclusion, for understanding through dialogue. It should value diplomacy over aggression in solving perceived differences. And it has to be consistent and holistic in approach. Yet the joint statement released yesterday by the "Save Darfur Coalition", bearing the signatures of the candidates, deviated from this grandiose notion of 'change' that they have so championed.
"There can be no doubt that the Sudanese government is chiefly responsible for the violence and is able to end it" the statement read on the Coalition's website. To make this claim is hardly "Straight talk". And if in fact change is our genuine concern, then it seems we should begin by providing an objective account of reality. Nowhere in the joint statement was the voter given the chance to discern it for him/herself. The "Save Darfur Coalition", after concocting an idyllic picture of events, went as far as drafting an editable "thank you" letter to the candidates for voters to submit. A ready made "thank you" letter, as if voters were short for words to use.
Nevertheless, the joint statement was concerned with two issues, Darfur and the CPA. It is troubling that the statement failed to mention anything concerning the two-dozen rebels in Darfur, as if to suggest that their presence amongst civilians were benign. Those that are privy to the realities on the ground however, have contradict the allegation that the Government is the principal source of instability in the region. Impartial observers have identified the rebels as the cause of violence and the major variable fueling the Humanitarian crisis. Their assault and robberies against aid workers, attacks on international peace keeping forces in addition to using civilians as shields are some of the heinous crimes condoned by the "Save Darfur Coalition" as they refrain from speaking about them.
Bewildering still, the statement did not contain a single word regarding the May 10th rebel attack on Omdurmon that killed nearly 200 people. This was an incident that appalled even the people of Darfur who immediately denounced the attack and made it clear that the Rebels did not represent their interests. It was a revealing moment that the Save Darfur Coalition chose to simply ignore as it threatened their agenda of trying to portray the government as having the monopoly on violence. What no one can deny however is that the government has been the only stakeholder that has consistently called for a political solution, the only viable solution to the conflict. If the reasons for picking up arms were political in the first place, why are they now refusing to come to the negotiating table to craft a political settlement?
Regarding the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it is true that there are times when both partners express dissatisfaction, whether its in the provisions of the document or frustrations arising from the pace of implementation. This is to be expected in any landmark agreement. The parties are diligently working to remove any obstacles that could potentially delay the election in 2009. The nationwide census has finally commenced. This is the first milestone towards conducting the upcoming elections in order for the country to make its way into a democratic transition. Border demarcation is also underway. The government of south Sudan officials publicly declared that over three quarters of the document has been implemented. And the partners are steadfastly working to resolve the remaining issues; Abyei, being the most prominent. Indeed this is an area that has proven to be very sensitive. It's been the center of recent skirmishes between the parties. But despite its sensitivity, the partners are together and have vowed that there will be "no return to war" as resolved in the meeting convened by the Ceasefire Political Commission yesterday.
The incumbent, which ever of the candidates the American people choose, should heed the calls for peace coming from the people of Darfur. The government of Sudan has made over 30 attempts to negotiate with the rebels but it has been unsuccessful. The reasons are well known by any unbiased observer. Solving the problem begins with sincere intentions to change the situation, as such, Sudan calls on the peace loving international community to push the rebels to end this catastrophe once and for all by getting them to the table of negotiations to help map out a peaceful future for their country. The incoming President's push for "change" will only have an impact on the people of Darfur when that change he/she advocates for has taken stock of all their realities.
Press and Information Office.
202 338 8565
Source: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
CONTACT: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan Press and Information