President Bashir’s year-old promise of national dialogue is faltering through a lack of political will, factional manoeuvring, and looming elections. Though the threat of economic and political crisis has eased, renewed commitment to substantive, structured, broad-based dialogue is vital if Sudan is to escape the cycle of war and humanitarian crisis.
If Darfur is to have durable peace, all parties to the country’s multiple conflicts need to develop a more holistic means of addressing both local conflicts and nationwide grievances.
Unless the marginalisation of Sudan’s East is addressed, renewed war and further fragmentation of the country is a growing possibility.
The war in Sudan’s Blue Nile state will grind on until the Khartoum government re-engages in national dialogue with opposition forces, including the Blue Nile rebels.
Only a comprehensive solution can end Sudan’s vicious civil wars that are exacting a horrendous toll on the country and its peoples.
Last week’s arrests of senior security figures for allegedly plotting a coup showed how close Sudan is to even greater violence and disintegration. Only managed but fundamental governance reform can help it escape chronic conflict and humanitarian misery.
Unless Sudan’s grievances are addressed by a more inclusive government, the country risks further violence and disintegration even after the South’s independence becomes official in July.
As South Sudan’s critical self-determination referendum looms, the foundation for a constructive relationship between North and South is yet to be laid.
Sudan’s North and South must take political action to define their mutual boundary if they hope to avoid future complications, including a return to conflict.
If, as likely, South Sudan decides to secede from the North at its January 2011 self-determination referendum, it will need support from Sudan’s neighbours to ensure the decision is respected and new conflict is prevented.