Wednesday, May 11, 2005

IT has been a while!!

Well, I am back dropping a few lines after a fairly long hiatus. A lil less than a whole month to be exact; but who is counting?!!!!

I actually write this blog for me and the two people that I pay to periodically scan it and make me feel like I am adding something!!! I would get more readers, but it has been difficult to bribe and browbeat more folks at the measly rates I am offering....

Well, what did i miss pontificating about????

The biggest story playing around is the constitutional review process taking place in Khartoum. Notice that it is now a review process and not an outright constitutional writing commission. The outlines of the new Interim Constitution have been drawn by the SPLM and the Government before hand, and the process going on now is an attempt to marshall as much political support from other quarters as possible.

I am all in favor of that, because the two parties should be able to formalize the Naivasha Comprehensive Agreement into an Interim Constitution that by definition will serve to guarantee the implementation of that agreement. Having a full blown renegotiation of the basic parameters of the new constitutional arrangement in Sudan within the Commission willl result in revisiting the settlement of the war in the South. That should not be allowed, and the Northern opposition parties that have delusions of using the commission to regurgitate the whole process should be told to take a hike. A minimum requirement for participating in the political elections that will take place before the end of the 6 year period should be the explicit pledge to honor the CPA to the letter. It would be nonsensical to allow the Northern parties to contest the upcomiung elections while not abiding by the timetable set forth in the Naivasha agreement.

The traditional Northern political parties and their partisans have predictably cried foul over statements by SPLM and Government spokesmen outlining a clause correlating the explicit acceptance of the letter and spirit of the interim constitution with future participation in elections in Sudan. They are suggesting that the SPLM has sold its soul to the NIF and joined in a cynical pact to rule the country in a new dictatorial arrangement.

If there is any cynicism to be parcelled out, the Northern Political parties should have the lion's share. They have previously endorsed the CPA, but are now objecting to one of the core guarantees for that agreement. Without an Interim Consitution that enshrines the CPA as a binding obligation on any government ruling the country during the interim period, there is no definite guarantee of implementation. That is especially acute becasue the CPA also endorses nationwide polls halfway through the interim period, and those polls can bring to power any number of political groups in the country. Therefore, if those polls are fair and democratic, whats the harm in stipulating that whoever participates in them has to honor the implementation of the second half of the CPA timeframe. Only someone cynical and with ulterior designs, and additionally not sincerely committed to the agreement that ended the bloodshed in the South, would have trouble committing to such a clause.

It is important that we not get seduced by all the flowery language about democratic rule and plurality from the parties in the North that have not always practiced those principles. The war lasted for 23 years becase successive regimes in Khartoum refused to take the moral leap and resolve teh conflict fairly. Now remnants of those same groups are now saying that the CPA is not necessarily a faire resolution to the conflict, and that they would like to reserve the right to revisit its terms if they ever have the power to do so. They have not said so in as many words, but politics is about devining the intentions of others through the prism of their previous actions. It is clear that such an interpretation is reasonable, and I am glad that the parties to the CPA are taking due caution in protecting against such future shenanigans.

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