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Panel Discussions - Monday, April 26, 2010

Sudan/South Sudan: “Every Reason to Move On With a Good Process”

At an IPI event on “Postelection Sudan and the Way Forward,” Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development, said the stakeholders in the Sudan peace process “have every reason to move on with a good process” and “have shown ability—Bashir, Salva Kiir, and all the others—at the end of the day to find a makeable solution.”

“And we should do whatever we can, the UN and others, to assist them in that endeavor,” he added.

His references were to Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the newly reelected President of Sudan, and Salva Kiir, also reelected as the head of Southern Sudan, which is preparing to vote in January on whether to split off from the North and become its own country.

Mr. Solheim asserted that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which laid the groundwork for the January referendum, is a “redeeming factor” in the process, and that “we should stick to the timeline of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and we should not deviate from that.”

“That would be the most essential guarantee against a lot of problems,” he said.

Adonia Ayebare, Director of IPI’s Africa Program, joined Mr. Solheim in the April 26th panel discussion and said one issue with the agreement is that “we all tend to focus on the juicy issues around the CPA, which is election and referendum,” and that a main issue of the CPA has been forgotten—democratic transformation in Sudan.

“At a crucial time in history with the Sudan, when we are all concentrating on elections and the referendum… the issue of democratic transformation has not been, to me, adequately addressed by the UN, by the international community in general,” said Mr. Ayebare, who is the former Deputy Permanent Representative of Uganda to the UN.

“I think there is a danger that if we don't address them, we will hurry into having a referendum… and then we are back to square one,” he added.

Both Mr. Solheim and Mr. Ayebare agreed that the Sudanese must be the main players in determining the way forward. Said Mr. Ayebare, “I agree with the Minister that at the end of the day, it is the Sudanese stakeholders—not only the National Congress, but the SPLM, but also other stakeholders. It's their country. And I think we should make sure that their views are reflected in whatever policy sort of instruments we craft for Sudan.”

The event was moderated by Dr. Edward C. Luck, IPI Senior Vice President for Research and Programs.

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