Over the past decade, the people of Darfur have suffered through a devastating genocide, have been forced to flee their homes by the millions, and innocent men, women and children in Darfur suffer continuing attacks, many of which are launched by the Government of Sudan. While promising peace talks for Darfur are currently being held in Doha, a few key players threaten to derail the entire process.
The Doha peace process is Darfur's best hope for a peaceful future. We must speak out together to ensure its success.
Sign our petition to Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, one of President Obama top advisors who deserves praise for his diligent work to ensure a peaceful referendum for South Sudan. Join us in asking Mr. McDonough to continue the great work he has begun and lay out the steps he needs to take to ensure a successful peace process for Darfur:
First, Djibril Bassolé, the Chief U.N.-A.U. Mediator for the Darfur peace negotiations, was recently appointed Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, leaving an opening for the appointment of a new international mediator. Strained relations between Mr. Bassole, U.N. Special Representative to the Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari, and former South African President Thabo Mbeki have seriously undermined successful peace efforts in Darfur. To ensure that this is not the case for the next mediator, the U.S. and the U. N. Security Council need to become more directly involved in fixing this mediation.
We believe President Mbeki should continue to focus on his instrumental role of securing a peace deal between north and south to avert resumption of war. President Obama should engage with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and A.U. President Jean Ping to have a single joint mediator of sufficient stature and with full authority to run the process, from the Doha talks between combatants to the involvement of civil society in Darfur. This role cannot be bifurcated between different mediators, and the single joint mediator needs to be provided the personnel on the ground in Doha and Darfur to give the process a chance for success.
Second, on March 29, 2011, Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, announced unilateral preparations for a referendum to determine the permanent administrative status of Darfur, even though this is a point of contention in ongoing peace talks in Doha.
Holding a referendum at this time would undermine the current negotiations in Doha, where we have seen renewed momentum. The Justice and Equality Movement temporarily suspended its participation in peace negotiations with the government as a result of this lack of governmental good will. While sold as a democratic exercise in which Darfuris will be allowed to freely express their vision for the future of Darfur, implementation of such a referendum would be impossible given the current conditions on the ground and the fact that the process would be driven by Bashir and the National Congress Party. We commend Ambassador Dane Smith for raising concerns regarding the referendum process, but believe that more needs to be done to ensure that the referendum does not take place.
Third, the absence of a number of rebel movements is a handicap against an effective peace process, including Abdul Wahid al-Nur, whose refusal to participate gives ammunition to those who advocate domestication of the peace process. As the Sudan Now campaign laid out in its “Roadmap for Peace in Darfur,” domesticating the peace process would be a terrible blow to peace efforts. The deplorable continuation of attacks on civilians by the Government of Sudan discourages rebel participation, while simultaneously demonstrating why domestication will not work.
Today, we urge you to address these potential peace spoilers by working with the Arab League, A.U., U.N.S.C. and others to reject a referendum process from happening without the consent of all parties and working to bring all parties to the table to make Doha the successful effort toward peace that the Darfuri people deserve.
Thank you for your sustained attention to Sudan.