I am very far away from Rwanda but I still shared in the shock and heartbreak over the death of Rwanda’s valiant soldiers in North Darfur.
The tragedies provide me a brief opportunity to re-assess the situation in Sudan.
My first article for The New Times was written on the subject of the ICC arrest warrant for Bashir and now more than 6 months later the situation in Sudan continues to be fraught.
The attention has begun to shift to the North-South animosities and the faltering, crumbling Peace Accords.
Last week in The New Times Butamire Pan ended his piece on the Rwandan troops in Sudan and the situation in Darfur, asking ‘Is a ‘Rwandan solution’ a foreseeable possibility?’ He remarked that the ‘Rwandan solution’, the continuing process of reconciliation post-genocide, was a necessary aim for the work of the international community in Sudan; I will argue the aim is just to hold on.
The situation in Darfur is being lost to the back-pages of newspaper. Now everybody fears the collapse of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
After nearly 40 years of civil war the agreement was a feat of diplomacy. However, now the agreement is threatening to go down.
‘Article 1’ is a newly formed UK organisation working to advocate for the people of Darfur. They view the current action of the Sudanese government as ‘jeopardising’ the tabled referendum and elections.
In many ways the internal divisions which were cemented in the formation of the autonomous South, very much exist. Few could find likeness between the Arab north and the black-Christian south; the two halves have different telephone access numbers, with the South opting for the same as Uganda and northern courts and law have no place amongst in the SPLM strongholds. However one thing keeps the two sides locked together; oil.
The CPA resulted in the direct split of the Sudanese oil reserves; previously the oil which came predominantly from the South was immediately shipped to the North, for processing and export, the South saw few of the profits. Bashir’s North is attempting to avoid this loss to their coffers.
The Sudanese government is cunning, their promises for improvements in Darfur have been shown to mean little, now with elections and a referendum over the next two years, the role of the international community is to remain in Sudan and provide the conditions for its’ people to help themselves.
Therefore in answer to Mr Pan, the role of the Rwandan forces in Sudan is less their attempts to foster ‘a Sudanese solution’ but essentially to allow the two sides to effectively split. Indeed Sudan is a world away from Rwanda; the two sides are split by race, faith, history and law.
The future of Sudan will not come from ‘umuganda’; instead Rwanda will have to remain in Sudan until the two sides can exist peacefully side by side. He is right to say that Rwanda cannot pull out, the implications would be devastating.
If the world looks away from Sudan, war will erupt again. It is for this reason that Rwanda’s troops must stay as one part of a large force helping to rescue the country’s peoples and for this reason, split the nation.
Phillip Rushworth lives in The United Kingdom