opinionBy Mohammed Eisa Ismail
Kampala — The recent gathering of world leaders in New York which coincided with the annual meeting of the U.N General Assembly has witnessed a historic moment where African leaders have showed their readiness to consolidate their position in face of the foreign pressures and interference. Despite the urgency usually accorded to traditional international hot issues like the situation in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, those issues have eventually subsided to give room to the African most important issue, the Darfur crisis, which took the lead in the international debate, especially in the summit meeting of the African Peace and Security Council which convened in New York this month.
Amidst all the provocative and antagonist propaganda and the well-orchestrated mischievous fallacies against Sudan, the wise vision of our African leaders in New York triumphed when they undertook a resolute decision of retaining the African troops (AMIS) in Darfur.
The historic moment re-affirmed the guiding principle of our African forefathers: the necessity of solving the African problems by Africans themselves. This was a culmination of a well-coordinated effort by the government of Sudan, with the aid of brotherly countries in the African and Arab World, to seek a durable and comprehensive solution to the crisis in Darfur.
It is important to note that the President of Burkina Faso who presided over the meeting of the Peace and Security Council announced that the United Nations had pledged to support AMIS technically and logistically, while the financial resources are to be provided by the Arab League.
Even before that, Sudan, despite its meagre resources had pledged to avail a considerable amount of financial resources for the sake of its people in Darfur and to help finance and revitalise the African troops in the region. That was part of a comprehensive plan forwarded by the Sudan government to the UN Secretary General prior to the adoption of the Security Council Resolution No. 1706.
Khartoum's rejection of the infamous Resolution No. 1706, which called for the replacement of the African troops by foreign troops, was not a result of any hidden intentions or disregard of the suffering of the Sudanese citizens in Darfur, as some biased people are saying. Sudan's position was that it was indeed hypocrisy to call for deployment of 17,000 UN troops on grounds that the African troops lacked financial resources and logistics. Yet the African troops need just a small fraction of the funds to be spent on the UN troops. Then why not use part of the money that would be spent on UN troops to support the African troops' sacred mission of monitoring the security and humanitarian aspects in Darfur.
Sudan prefers the African soldier whose culture and tradition and are compatible with those of the indigenous people of Darfur. The affinities and intermarriage among the different racial groups, whether from an African or Arabic descent, have through the years shaped the unique identity of the Darfurian people. The root causes of the conflict are mainly the pervasive underdevelopment and the consequent rivalries between different tribes over the meagre resources in the mostly arid region.
The infamous Resolution No. 1706 was obviously cooked in Western circles that are aimed at balkanising Sudan and seeking to gain hegemony over Darfur in pursuit of oil, uranium and other mineral and natural resources in that region.
Sudan's vehement rejection of the conspiracies was basically because the dignity and pride of the government and the whole nation was at stake. The resolution was intended to undermine the sovereignty of the state and to bring about neo-colonialism in the Sudan and the whole region. The replacement of the African troops by U.N troops, to paraphrase the Gambian President, is an insult to Africa. It is Sudan's conviction that the Darfur crisis is about to reverse, now that the African leaders have triumphantly intervened by reaffirming the role of Africa in Darfur.
The ensuing optimism is further enhanced by the well-concentrated efforts and practical plans that were agreed upon to effectively and comprehensively end the crisis in Darfur. In the heart of these plans are the contacts which are underway to convince the other rebel factions to agree to and join the Darfur Peace Accord which was signed in Abuja, May 2006, under the auspices of President Olusegun Obasanjo, and endorsed by the African Union and the international community.
With the gradual and continued improvement in the security situation, save for sporadic and minor attacks mainly by the Salvation Front which is yet to join the peace process, more displaced persons are heading back to their villages. In such a situation, the government's strategical plan with the help of SLA leader Manny Arkoy Mennawi who had been appointed Chief Advisor to the President, and with the assistance of brotherly African and Arab countries, would eventually help to resettle the displaced persons and rehabilitate the whole area.
It is only with the African countries' pivotal role and active and positive involvement of the Arab League and the international community, that a durable settlement of the Darfur problem will be achieved.
The writer is the Deputy Head of Mission/Minister Plenipotentiary Embassy of Sudan in Kampala.