Friday, April 15, 2005

Billions of Promises to Keep

HERE is a link to Kofi Annan's NY times article on the Oslo Donors Conference on Sudan. It clearly illustrates the difficulty that many previous relief efforts had with converting pledges into hard cash.

It should only spur the future government to be wise and honest custodians of the people's money. The bulk of these reconstruction efforts will have to be locally driven, and powered by the ingenuity of the Sudanese people in leveraging their natural resources for their collective good.

A $4.5 billion pledge!!! Call the collection agencies!!!!!!!

The billions pledged for reconstruction in Southern Sudan have certainly made many of us hopeful and grateful. The question remains about how soon some of these funds will start to be used to address the immediate needs.

In a previous post I argued that it was unwise for the US government to literally link the delivery of their contributions to improvements in the plight of the citizens in Darfur. My argument was that the loser in the intransigence of the Khartoum government is the poor Southern brothers and sisters of the equally victimized Darfur civilians. I believe that it was mere posturing by the US administration to insist on such a linkage, and my hunch was confirmed by the Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick seeming to back away
from the finding of Genocide in Darfur. That finding was echoed and emphatically promoted by none other than former Secretary of State Colin Powell last year. It might thus be the case that the US government is pursuing a different policy on Darfur and not really closing the noose around the regime to compel it to act.

Back to the pledged; collecting the funds is not going to be easy from previous experiences, and the Norwegian Development minister dwelled on that possibility a lot during the conference.

My headline above not withstanding, I believe that the best way to attain maximum international donor relief is to expeditiously, transparently and aggressively start to spend some of the allegedly escrowed $1.0 billion in Oil money owed to the Southern Sudan government by the Khartoum government.

Resettlement of refugees and former combatants, mass vaccinations against diseases, small scale water projects, power generation and rehabilitation in the more populated towns, water projects and other smaller ventures should be staged and scaled all over the South with these funds. By showing the international community that a measurable degree of progress will be independently and locally achieved, we would then be in a stronger position to get even more assistance, both technical and financial.

That is why I am lamenting all the lost time in completing the constitution review process and the formal installation of the government in Southern Sudan. Clearly, the institutions in the South cannot have immediate access and proceed to spend these funds until they are officially constituted. I am sure that there are legitimate reasons for the delay, and we cannot discount the political jockeying among all parties as the main culprit, but I would hope that shortcuts and compromises would be made to expedite the process. Every month lost to all this zillion meetings and conferences is time that could have been utilized to bring some relief to some of our least fortunates compatriots back home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

You Want South-South Dialogue??

South-South dialogue as a concept and a cause has been parrotted so relentlessly by so many people that it has now turned into a cliche almost. Its amazing that a fairly simple idea that should have universal appeal can easily be so politicized and co-opted. But that's what happens when pedestrian and even cynical political calculations become the lens through which we see everything.

But here's what I think of this dialogue and what its should be all about. ( I have the perogative to use that grave elder statesman intro here; cuz its my blog buddy!!!:)

This SS dialogue is not only about various political actors and parties demanding the convening of a conference in Nairobi with the SPLM leadership. Its not about Southerners in Khartoum, both government of Sudan supporters and die-hard opponents of the regime, demanding a share of the cabinet and legislature in the new SS government. It should be about a collective expansion of the arena to accommodate perennially ignored sectors of our communities.

Women and Young people remain totally marginalized from the affairs of their community, eventhough they are the fuel that continued to power the struggle throughout the last decades. I have yet to see many of the people demanding this dialogue actually put their slogans to work, and actually convene broad conversations with their people about the future of the country. The SPLM must be called upon to engage other voices in setting the course of Southern Sudan as the dominant political entity on the ground, but that's just one aspect of these overall efforts.

It is clearly evident that many of our elders think of these dialogue as one between them and their rivals for the leadership of Southern Sudan. It does not concern us poor commons, and if not for the stubborn rebels in Nairobi, it would have been convened a few years back in a Hotel there or in Switzerland, and we would have another ecumenical High Executive Council with the seats apportioned fairly. Then, Southern Sudan would have really engaged in dialogue and presented a united front to our enemies in Khartoum.

Is that the SS dialogue we want??????? I don't think so.

The daunting challenges ahead in Southern Sudan!!!

Thousands of our skilled expatriates must be thinking that now is the time to go home and possibly contribute effectively in the coming redevelopment of Southern Sudan in particular. But we all know that the challenges are plenty, and the groundwork for luring more of our people to actually go back and be agents of change and progress are not there yet.

But here is what I believe our seminal challenge will be during this anticipated reconstruction period. The challenge will be to resist the urge to think of progress and development as the sole provinces of our government institutions. The expectation that whatever monetary inflows from the oil revenues and international aid will be the only guarantee of the success of the reconstruction effort is a dangerous one that one must check.

Moreover, I think a greater factor in determining the future fate of our country will be the climate that prevails during the next 2 years. Law and order remain major components of guaranteeing this conducive social order. Equally critical is the transparency of the governing institutions during the transitional period.

Our various communities are edging slowly out of decades of displacement and anarchy, and currents of anxiety, distrust and trauma are flowing all over the place. The onset of rampant corruption, nepotism or abuse by the custodians of the new government in the South will reignite all these suppressed fears and totally destroy the rebuilding process.

These are primary challenges that all of our genuinely concerned people should contribute towards addressing with foresight and openness. Participating in the political and social discourse underway is the first step to make sure we are talking renaissance in 6 years, and not anarchy and war.

Norway Donor's Conference.. what gives?!!!

Like many Southern Sudanese, I followed with interest the buildup to the conference in Norway on donor commitments and pledges for reconstruction in Sudan. The latest news suggest that the pledge amounts exceeded the expectations and requests of the Sudanese and the various NGOs that conducted assessments on post-war needs.

What was a bit dismaying was how the Americans are now conditioning their pledges to the resolution of the Darfur conflict. Obviously, Darfur's situation needs to be resolved, and all Sudanese of all stripes would agree that a dominant strand in the NIF power clique in Khartoum was the main catalyst and instigator of the genocidal conflict in the region.

What should not immediately follow is to correlate whatever needed international assistance to the beleguered Southern Sudan to the political gymnastics taking place with regards to Darfur.

The two regions have suffered, among other marginalized areas, in the hands of successive Northern regimes, and now the International community is trying to use assistance to Southern Sudan as a stick to prod the Khartoum government to act more responsibly in Darfur. I don't see how denying the nascent authorities in Southern Sudan the funds they need to resettle people and start to reconstruct the war devastated South is an incentive for Khartoum's current rulers to hurry up and halt the war in Darfur.

That just shows, even with good intentions, some of the highest echelons of the western powers are clueless about how their policy positions really play out in the developing world. It reminds me of the hoopla made by the Americans at the begining of the Darfur crisis when they announced the denial of travel privileges and freezing of the assets of the leadership of the so-called Janjaweed Militias.

  • These tribal leaders are stooges of their masters in the government security forces.
  • They do not have assets that can be frozen in Washington.
  • They have never, nor are they inclined, to visit or hobnob with anyone in the West or even any other African capital.
Thats pure impotence masquareding as the new TOUGH INTERNATIONAL ORDER.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

White Nile again!!!!

The entreprenuers who started White Nile to such fanfare with their announcement about a deal with the SPLM for explorations rights in Southern Sudan are now taking their news-making act to South Africa.

Apparently, they are set to announce a new agreement for major mineral rights in that country.

White Nile fever spreads South

If you are enterprising enough, which I am not, get with Phil Edmonds or Andrew Groves and you might just become a millionaire mogul if the shares of the new venture blow from 10p to 137p as the White Nile shares did before being suspended.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

51 suspects, One tough jam!!!!

Here's a story about the noose tightening around the genocide suspects in Khartoum.

Political Suicide???

I am not sure what grand geo-political calculations the NIF government in Khartoum is engaging in with regards to the UN resolution on Darfur.

It is clear that they have totally misplayed their hands with regards to the outcome of the back and forth between the United States and the Europeans in the Security Council. They were caught off guard by the American compromise on the referrals to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and their hopes of forever being shielded by their Chinese enablers with the threat of a veto did not pan out.

Now, their choices are pretty limited. They are now looking at potentially having some of their luminaries in Khartoum join Radko Mladic in the list of wanted genocide perpetrators, and without any potential political compromise that will save them and even some of their cynical pursuers in the Security Council.

This is rather bleak, because there would not be any need for any calculation and manuevering if they would carry out their MORAL and LEGAL obligation, and halt and destroy the mechanism of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

But doing things the right way the first time has never been the strong suit of the ruling power elite in Khartoum. They prefer to let it burn while launching and supporting hateful religious crusades until they run out of options.

Kinda like the so called second coming of Sallah Eldin Al Ayoubi, Saddam Hussein.

Monday, April 04, 2005

WHITE NILE, the saga continues!!!

Well, I think White Nile might be back in the news again. A link to their latest news is below.

White Nile Circular expected April 14 or 15

More White Nile

I hope it all works out, because I hear the arrangement with the SPLM is structured in a way that is an innovation and an improvement on the usual setup that African governments enter into with the usual sharks, i.e. BP, Shell, Total..etc............

But then again, savvy oil entreprenuers like our friends at White Nile would certainly say that to set themselves apart...

PS......Dear Oil Multinationals, Do not sue me for calling you sharks...I am only kidding!!!!

Here's a Radical Idea!!!

I just perused a couple of the sudan-oriented websites, namely Gurtong and Sudan.Net.

These are immensely informative and useful portals for all news about Sudan and the developments in the country and abroad. But I am afraid its also true that one of their best features has been eroded by the incredibly negative debating that goes on in the discussion boards.

Gurtong is miles ahead of in readibility I must say, and not all posts are half-baked arguments from people trumpetting their latest tribal or sectional grievances. But a good chunk of it is, and thats unfortunate.

But whats more insidious is that the intentions and patriotism of every Southerner, both the various political leaders and fellow posters, is relentlessly questioned.

So, no matter how in vain it might be, here is a radical idea. Why not disagree in general without immediately assuming that your adversary in whatever debate is a disloyal, corrupt and good-for-nothing fellow or gentle lady.

Of course, thats not such a radical or original though. In fact, its one of my recycled nuggets of wisdom. I would imagine that all of us agree with that, but few of us practice it!!!!!

SPLM finally in Khartoum!!

Well, we finally have the 100+ SPLM delegation in Khartoum to jump start the implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Its a good omen, at least, cuz now the rubber hits the road and the two parties can finally start putting some legs on their promises to implement fully the outlines of the agreement.

As usual, snags and obstacles loom all around us. The Northern traditional parties have their fangs out ready to do battle over the composition and outcome of the agreed upon interim constitutional commission.

Myriad southern groups, both ideological soul mates of the SPLM, and die-hard opponents, are looming in the shadows demanding their rightful place on the table.

I say rightful with reservations however, because many of the groups challenging the movement are asking for shares in the cabinet and various government seating arrangements, and not necessarily prepared to present a viable national political program for the future of Southern Sudan. At least the Northerners couch their disagreements around their varied positions on addressing the challenges and accomodating the demands from the south and the other marginalized areas.

Moreover, its unfortunate that many Southern groups formerly aligned with the Government are using blackmail by threatening to reignite the war if their demands for shares in the future dispensation of power in Southern Sudan are not accomodated.

I would hope, and many southerners would concur, that the wise thing to do would be to challenge the SPLM as a political party and offer alternatives that are more practical, forward looking and inclusive that what they believe the Movement is offering. Dangling the threat of resorting to being a proxy for the elite Northern power cabal within Southern Sudan is only irresponsible, and will certainly not reap any political dividents with the Southern Sudanese masses.

However, I must note that not all opponents of the SPLM and its leadership are sellouts, and not all of them are potential reincarnations of Mangosuthu Buthelezi in a Sudanese guise. As many of us remember, Buthelezi played an unfortunate role in fomenting violence and hatred among blacks in South Africa when he used his ZULU-based Inkatha Freedom Party to challenge the ANC after Mandela was released from prison.

A good number of Southern Sudanese have geniune disagreements with the SPLM, and I hope and pray that the SPLM will engage them fairly in the political arena and let the competing view points duke it out for the support of the people.

Who Am I ?????? I am Wau Nar, B&%$%

I am glad you are here perusing my tiny corner of the vast world wide web. Here's the 411 on me!!!Sudanese native residing in the outer margins of the cesspool of international politics and intrigue: Washington DC.

This is where the destinies of the world's billions can sometimes be compromised by the whims of a few. But, alas, thats a rant for another time!!!!

Anyway, I finally decided to join these non-stop rant commune inhabited by the infamous and the self important..i.e the blogosphere.

I wanted to see how much incredible idiocy i can wring out of myself for sports, after being the voluntary recipeint of an infinite amount.

So, enjoy yourself, and trust me, you won't be any wiser after getting your daily diet of recycled wisdom from the Herbsman himself. At least I am being honest about my limitations here...


The next conclave: would it not be great if Arinze gets the nod???

In a little more than 2 weeks, the college of cardinals will set about electing the next pope. Like most objects of fascination, this event will be the focus of much speculation, and as usual, many people will be placing their bets on who the choice of the college will be.

Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria has been mentioned over the last few years as a leading candidate to succeed John Paul II.

The standard refrain from vatican and church officials is that the selection process is not your typical political horse trading exercise subject to back room dealing. That' s a company line that is obviously belied by the history of these conclaves over the centuries, and the very fact that ideology and geographic considerations have played major roles in the elevations of many popes.

In Africa, the Catholic Church is now experiencing its greatests growth, and more importantly, its greatest challenge for the allegiances of millions of people. That would suggest that an African pope might signal a seismic reformation in the church and the expansion of its foundation beyond its historical base in Western Europe.

I would love to see Arinze get the nod, but his odds in my opinion are very low.