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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Other Releases > 2002 - 2003

Memorandum of Justification Regarding Determination Under the Sudan Peace Act (Public Law 107-245)

The White House
Washington, DC
April 21, 2003

Section 6(b)(1)(A) of the Sudan Peace Act, as enacted into law on October 21 2002, requires the President to make a determination and certify in writing to Congress "that the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) are negotiating in good faith and that negotiations should continue." The Act provides for alternative determinations if warranted. The President has made this determination and certification under Section 6(b)(l)(A) on the basis of the following considerations:

(A) The talks continue to move forward, albeit imperfectly, and still represent the best means of resolving the civil war peacefully.

As both sides to the conflict have noted, Sudan's civil war will only be resolved through peaceful negotiation. Continued war, they agree, will not resolve the longstanding grievances of the south and will only lead to continued suffering, displacement, hunger and death.

Under the leadership of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Peace Secretariat, chaired by Kenyan Ambassador General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, has held four rounds of peace talks to date. At this time, the talks remain on track, but much remains to be accomplished. The chair of the talks, the parties to the conflict, and the observers agree that the talks have made significant gains in addressing the longstanding issues at the root of the conflict and the talks continue to make progress.

While the environment for working toward peace has improved steadily, the talks have been interrupted and strained at times, primarily but not exclusively by the Government. The United States has registered its concern, irritation, and in some cases condemnation over behavior by the Government of Sudan for its actions on the battlefield. The Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT), established as a test to the parties' commitment to work together toward peace, catalogued deliberate attacks on civilians by both regular and irregular forces of the Government of Sudan. In addition, the Verification Monitoring Team (VMT), created as a means to supplement an October 2002 cessation of hostilities between the SPLM and the GOS, detailed violations by Khartoum's regular and irregular forces. The SPLM, for its part, has admitted to positioning and moving troops contrary to the cessation of hostilities terms and in a way that could prompt new fighting. In addition, both the GOS and the SPLM have failed to live up to their commitment to halt rhetoric unhelpful to the peace process.

These shortcomings, violations of agreements, signals of lingering distrust, and hostility are certainly troubling. Many of these misdeeds should be seen as both attempts by those opposed to peace on both sides to maintain the status quo and efforts to influence the talks through applying military pressure in the field. Indeed, Sudan's civil war has continued since independence in 1956, with only one period of relative tranquility from 1972-83. Nevertheless, violating either the letter or spirit of agreements hinders the integrity of the peace process and such actions must stop. Long-standing grievances caused by bigotry, religious intolerance, avarice, inequitable development, and racism will take time and patience to ameliorate. The accomplishments made by the sides toward peace so far suggest that the current process holds great promise to that end. A new level of determination and cooperation is now necessary to complete negotiations, sign a comprehensive agreement, and implement the terms of that agreement. This peace process, if properly pursued to conclusion, will create the foundation for change. This is the fundamental concept behind the United States' engagement in the peace talks.

(B) The talks have made steady progress on a number of issues including self-determination, religion and the state, power sharing, wealth sharing, security arrangements, cease-fire modalities, humanitarian access, and transitional concerns despite resistance to change from some members of both camps.

The Machakos Protocol signed by the GOS and SPLM in July 2002 established a framework and over-arching blueprint for peace and change. The subsequent talks over power sharing, wealth sharing, transitional arrangements, status of contended areas, and security arrangements are designed to complete the details of the Protocol's implementation.

Reaching agreement on the details has been a difficult endeavor, but one with promise. The negotiations have seen nearly every subject under constant debate and discussion. From the schedule to the agenda, and from modalities of the talks to the proverbial "shape-of-the-table," both sides have pursued tough, inflexible, and sometimes puzzling positions. The mediator, General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, has shown exceptional leadership in moving both sides past these hurdles. His dynamic approach has tested both parties’ resolve to remain in the talks and has allowed the observers to witness the results first hand. What has been seen is no surprise: that the GOS and SPLM are serious about reaching a definitive conclusion to the talks. They must now continue their move forward along the same path toward the more difficult task of completing an agreement.

The Department of State has worked closely with the United States' Troika partners, the UK and Norway, and with General Sumbeiywo in pressing both parties to negotiate in good faith. Senior Department personnel have accompanied Special Envoy Danforth in his visits to the region to support the peace process.

As the talks have progressed, both parties have expressed their mutual desire for peace, but continue to be hampered by lingering obstinance and inflexibility. Nevertheless, the GOS and SPLM have gradually and grudgingly allowed the concept of a partnership to take hold and, as a result, we have seen a quantifiable increase in compromise and flexibility in recent talks. The April 2 summit between President Bashir and Chairman Garang sent a clear signal of their commitment by publicly stating their objective to reach a settlement by the end of June. Both leaders agreed to intensify the communications between them and their senior advisors. This is promising.

The United States will seek to build on this by increasing dialogue between the leaders of both sides and by assisting the SPLM in coordinating its message to its constituencies. The United States is also coordinating with other donors to make clear to the two parties the benefits to the people of Sudan that will come with peace. This will mitigate the possible effects of misinformation by the opponents to peace that compromise the requisite trust and flexibility.

(C) The President's Special Envoy, the parties to the conflict, the mediator, and the international observer states all continue to support the peace process and its continuation.

Since the enactment of the Sudan Peace Act, the United States has carefully and closely scrutinized the progress of the ongoing talks. This has been accomplished through dialogue with both parties and the other observer states and through the engagement of senior Department officials.

The conclusions outlined by those knowledgeable with the details of the talks are nearly uniform: the peace talks, while encountering difficulties, are moving forward and should continue. Statements by the President's Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan, Senator Danforth; the IGAD peace talks mediator, Lazaro Sumbeiywo; and a joint statement by Sudan President Bashir and SPLM Chairman Garang all support this position. The progression of the talks is a result of the parties sharing a fundamental goal of achieving a peaceful and just culmination. The parties' difficulties are largely due to the intransigence in some quarters to make the necessary adjustments and concessions to finish the work of peace. The sides are headed in a common direction, but greater diligence and commitment will be required to achieve this shared goal.

The measure of cooperation generated by the talks has promoted a reduction in violence, which has allowed improved humanitarian access to opposition areas. While not the principal reason for staying the course, these tangible benefits of continued talks certainly play a part in the United States' engagement. Should these improvements dissolve, however, the United States will certainly reassess the situation with particular consideration given to the provisions of the Act.

(D) The mediator shares our opinion that the talks should not be open-ended and that a just and lasting solution can be reached if the parties remain focused.

A key understanding to the United States' engagement in the peace talks is that a permanent peace should not be delayed or sacrificed in favor of a temporary stability. Intentional delay of the talks simply postpones the realization of a solution to Sudan's essential problems. The United States, through the Department of State and the Special Envoy, and other observer nations are pursuing this principle by continuously urging both parties to stay on schedule and make the best use of time at the talks.

The mediator, Lazaro Sumbeiywo, shares this understanding and sense of urgency. He has made it clear to both parties that delaying or hindering the talks will not be tolerated.

While our focus on building and maintaining momentum at the talks is evident, we remain aware that this focus on momentum should not detract from the process of the negotiations themselves or the substance of the eventual agreement. Since the United States sees the south as the aggrieved party in the civil war, we have pursued close contact with the SPLM to ensure that their legitimate concerns are addressed and to ensure that any agreement reached is just.

There is broad consensus that the current negotiations represent an historic opportunity to end the war in Sudan. This is due in large measure to the leadership of the United States in bringing the parties to the negotiating table along with the support of our Troika partners and the Government of Kenya. Therefore, it is essential that the United States remain fully engaged at this pivotal juncture in the talks to assist the parties in realizing that goal. The Administration is mindful of the suffering of the Sudanese people, and shares the hope that now they are near to tasting the fruits of peace.

Released on April 22, 2003

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