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Published 24th October 2003

Vol 44 No 21


Peace in our time

Two very different visions of what peace means holds up Washington's planned announcement

Colin Powell was disappointed. The expected signing of a partial Sudan peace agreement during the United States Secretary of State's trip to Kenya was replaced by the two sides agreeing to agree later possibly on wealth-sharing by 25 October. The National Islamic Front government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement were still far apart on the other main issues, power-sharing and the three 'marginalised areas' on the fringe of the south, said a source from the meetings. General Powell told the NIF that Sudan would stay on the US 'terrorist list' until it expelled Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The immediate Sudanese joke in Nairobi ran: If you sign, you get the White House. If you don't, you get Guantánamo Bay!' If war is the failure of politics, will the kind of politics that foster peace be allowed to succeed? The key lies in the nature of the two negotiating parties and one weakness of the Machakos process, named after the town where the talks began, is precisely that it involves only two protagonists, apart from the mediators (see Addis Ababa Box). The SPLA/M's roots grow out of southern anger at northern discrimination and at oppression by a series of governments, most genocidally by the NIF. The SPLA is also guilty of brutality and authoritarianism but in its aims, it probably represents a majority of southerners and, in free elections, would win more votes than the NIF can dream of. So even the most repressive of the SPLA's 666 or so commanders (senior officers) feel the pressure for democracy and human rights from the long voiceless southern population, belatedly encouraged by foreign non-governmental organisations and governments, notably that of the USA.

Another Addis agreement?

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Conflicting visions reign of what is really going on in the Machakos negotiations, with a large gap between Sudanese participants and many of the foreigners involved. Sudanese reme...

Back-door deals

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A final peace deal would be followed, eventually, by the lifting of United States' sanctions and an international aid package. Meanwhile, say banking sources, the Khartoum governme...

Monitoring minefield

A Joint Military Commission (JMC) of government and rebel forces supervises the ceasefire in the Nuba Mountains (AC Vol 43 No 10). On 10 October, the government contingent withdrew...

Split parties, stout leaders

President Bouteflika looks vulnerable ahead of the elections as politicians fall out

The elite is at war again, this time with each other. At stake in the power-struggle, a particularly vicious and unprincipled one even by Algeria's standards, is incumbent Presiden...

Roll out the barrel

Raising domestic oil prices is essential but seems impossible

The government's latest bid to liberalise (and inevitably raise) fuel prices has united traders, trades unionists and state governors against President Olusegun Obasanjo's new econ...

Presidential stakes

In the race to succeed Sam Nujoma, Foreign Affairs Minister Hidipo Hamutenya is far out in front

Contenders for the presidency are stepping up their campaigns following the announcement that the governing South West Africa People's Organisation will hold an extraordinary party...

No end to the affair

Allegations by Federal Capital Territory Minister Nassir el-Rufai that two senators had solicited a 54 million naira (US$420,000) bribe for approving his appointment are set to cau...


Conclave expectations

The chances that the next Pope could be an African may have been overplayed by some of the international media but, in the view of some close Vatican-watchers, the continent's obvi...

Lomé abstention

Togo was a German colony, then a French one. The two former masters now disagree about Togo's dubious democracy and its 35-year President, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, 65. Eur...