H.E. KOFI ANAN
SECRETARY GENERAL U.N
Dear sir ,
A few months ago , the political prospects for Africa looked so bright . The continent witnessed a wave of Democratization, the emergence of new leaders determined to achieve a new start, and an international resolve to help Africa help itself .
That new Dawn is currently being overshadowed by civil Wars , bilateral confrontations which are escalating the conflicts into a continental conflagration .
The Ethiopian – Eritrean conflict is bringing two culturally related neighbours into fratricidal struggles . That conflict is potentially poised to mirror the polarizations of the great lakes district , the Gulf , and the Middle East.
International mediation efforts have helped prevent the escalation of the war, and have so far achieved a five months cessation of hostilities . However , that period has also allowed the two warring parties to prepare for war , and ensure that if hostilities are resumed , they will be more violent and pervasive than the May border war .
There is an iceberg character to this conflict: What is hidden beneath the surface far out-weighs the visible aspects :
- The two leaderships have been so close allies during the period of their common struggle against the Mengistu Dictatorship , that when they proceeded to create two successor states they left many important issues pending. They have by – passed the need for a comprehensive Peace Agreement.
- Particularly menancing was the lack of an explicit programme to deal with economic relations between the two Sovereign States .
- The self – images of the two successor states have escaped reconciliation : Ethiopia had to cope with its imperial inheritance , while Eritrea had to assert the rights of the New Birth .
- The border conflict simply became the embodiment of these contradictions .
- Consequently , the handling of the conflict as a simple border skirmish between two ordinary neighbouring States has back-fried and led to the present impasse which unless it is effectively addressed will make renewed violent conflict inevitable with all the menancing consequences .
The peoples of the Sudan have a great affinity for their Ethiopian and Eritrean neighbours . During their liberation struggles, the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea have found the Sudan a welcoming host . As the peoples of the Sudan today struggle to realize the terms for a just peace and to restore their Democratic Rights , they have received warm welcome. As representatives of the peoples of Sudan , our interest does not stop there . We look up to a future when our three peoples effect a degree of integration which effectively serves their mutual Developmental and Security interests .
Indeed , we seek to extend that vision to all the territories of the Nile Basin , and the Red Sea Basin .
The National Democratic Alliance which represents the most important political forces in the Northern and Suouthern Sudan is greatly troubled by this conflict.
The NDA formed a Good-Will Mission resolved to make direct contact with the leadership in the two States , to avail them with a conduit of indirect contact , to reactivate the peace initiatives , to underline the wider consequences of war , and to seek to discover the common ground between the two parties .
We believe that our Good-Will M** -Treaties which are readily available in the two countries archives , and British, Italian and Russian Archives. They both agree upon the demarcation of the entire border area by a technically competent body to be appointed by the U.N. They both agree that in the event of contraversy, the matter should be settled by arbitration . Eventually , all outstanding issues should be addressed through a comprehensive Peace Agreement .
Tht only issue which is now blocking the way to that terminus , is the deployment of troops in the border area . Over this issue , the declared positions of the two sides are irreconcilable .
Agreement could be reached through the concerted efforts of the peace makers to maintain an indirect dialogue between the two parties , and hopefully , to facilitate their mutual agreement upon a third scenario . That third scenario could resolve the present impasse within a comprehensive package deal for the resolution of the border dispute and so pave the way for direct bilateral negotiations to discuss and sign a Peace Agreement . Several ideas have been mooted as possibilities for the third scenario . Among them , I count the following two :
- To carry out a general mutual disengagement of the two countries armed forces in two stages :
- First stage , to redeploy the present forces away from the border area where fighting took place on the 6th of May 1998 . A partial restoration of the status -quo ante .
- Second stage to involve the rest of the border area .
- Alternatively , to make some mutually acceptable transition arrangement for the area where fighting recently took place. Otherwise to leave the border status quo as it is now , and to instruct the U.N. technical body to delineate the entire border area on the basis of Colonial Treaties . The two countries will then comply with the findings and their troops will be deployed accordingly . Then the same technical body could proceed to demarcate the border on the ground .
The peace making process is already gathering momentum . The U.S Government is sending a high ranking envoy to the two capitals in the last week of September .
The three African heades of State who have been delegated by the African Summit are due to meet on the first week of October .
It will help the Peace momentum , and ensure the Peace sway, if the Secretary General of the U.N. were to schedule a visit to the area in mid – October . By that time the Peace initiatives would have reached high gear . Also , by that time , preparations for the resumption of hostilities would have reached their zenith .
Even before visiting the area , the Secretary General could appeal to both sides to commit themselves to the following Good-Will declaration :
To stop hostile measures aimed at the other side .
To refrain from war making rhetoric . To give the Peace efforts maximum opportunity . To refrain from the initiation of hostilities as long as the peace efforts continue .
We should leave no stone unturned to prevent a resumption of hostilities. We believe that a compromise formula is possible . We believe that the leadership in both countries is far sighted enough to be willing to pay some price to avoid war. We believe that the peoples of the two countries have had enough of wars and are keen to avoid their horrors . Regional , and international efforts should be redoubled to help them. The U.N . in your person should take that cause to heart and be instrumental in building Peace in the threatend Horn of Africa .
I am yours
Al-sadig Al- mahdi
The former Prime minister of Sudan
And the Chairman of NDA Good – Will Mission
Asmara – 28.9.1998