What is Khartoum really up to again in Darfur? The African Union has given notice that it is not going to continue its Peace Mission beyond the end of this month when the mandate expires.
initial response was more or less: â€œGood riddance....â€ though it has now â€˜modifiedâ€™ its position by putting impossible conditions under which it will â€˜allowâ€™ the African Union troops to remain. It wants the Mission to be financed by itself and the Arab League. This is
obviously a condition that the AU cannot and should
not accept and has rightly refused to countenance.
Meanwhile Khartoum has categorically rejected the UN intervention consequent to the July 31 Security Council Resolution 1706.
The African Union Peace Keeping in Darfur, has been faced with a number of challenges. One, the experience is
new and had to confront pioneering obstacles. Two, the
mandate was too limited, therefore it has been unable
to embark on peace enforcement which could have saved
more lives and protected the victims of Darfurâ€™s state-
backed violence and massacre. In a sense, it is an AU
mission based on the old OAU fudge. Three, it never
had enough resources to carry out its limited mission
effectively. The dearth of resources are not just the
monetary ones that everybody keeps talking about but
also technical and logistical inadequacies, including
But by far the biggest challenge is the bad faith of Khartoum and the rebels and also extra-continental counter strategic coalitions and interests. These challenges have made merchants of â€˜Nothing good comes out of Africaâ€™ to see the AU intervention in Darfur as yet another proof that Africans cannot do
anything for themselves. But is this really the case? The fact that the Mission was put together was a positive step in terms of confirming that Africans and our political leaders were no longer prepared to be indifferent to the suffering of other Africans.
That Rwanda and Nigeria both immediately offered troops was also an expression of this Pan- African solidarity.
Rwanda knows only too well the consequences of
African inaction which prevented the OAU from helping
to avert genocide in their country. And because Africa
was not proactive in that tragedy it made it easier
for other players on the international arena to shirk
their responsibility or even aid and abet the genocidaire regime in Kigali.
The Nigerians on the other hand have always seen â€˜Africa as the centre piece of our foreign policyâ€™ and sought
to put their money where their mouth is. I am not
enamoured by Obasanjo at all but I have to concede
that he has remained consistent on Pan-African issues.
In the case of Sudan, Nigeria has been engaged from
time immemorial largely because both countries are
superficially similar but also because there is a long
association between the peoples.
ethno-regional - racialist and religious fault lines are very familiar to Nigerians. Therefore successive Nigerian governments have tried to be peace-makers in Sudan. There is also the fact that there is a significant number of Sudanese who are of Nigerian origin.
In spite of the challenges one can see that the mission was put together for good reasons that are not compromised because of the challenges they faced. One of the more difficult challenges was the limited nature of their mandate. Here Khartoum was able to
outmanoeuvre the AU. It played the AU against the
USA/UN in order to get a weakened intervention force
which effectively is a â€˜Watching Forceâ€™. It played to
the gallery of â€˜African solutions to African problemsâ€™
to swing AU member states behind its opposition to UN
It also exploited the lack of credibility of the US and anti-Americanism that the futile War Against Terrorism continues to generate among many Africans and peoples of the world. The US is the only government to have declared Darfur a genocide. This should have put an obligation on both
the US and the rest of the member states of the UN under the Geneva convention.
Neither the US nor the other states have discharged that responsibility. The US cannot do so because nobody will believe it after Afghanistan and Iraq and on its own it cannot
(despite rhetoric to the contrary) invade another
largely Muslim country.
In addition, the US could not get any sterner resolution through the Security council because neither China nor Russia will back it. While the Africans were happy that Khartoum allowed the AU in the Sudan, government was happier that the UN did not come. In practice the AU force has been toothless because of
the limited mandate. This should be a cause for a
review of the way in which the Peace and Security
Council works. It is not a case for abolishing, it is a
case for wider reform so that it is able to make
peace, maintain it and enforce it where and when
We have to face the issue of resources seriously. It
is not just the PSC operations that are handicapped by
lack of money. Almost all organs of the AU are affected by this. It is simply unacceptable and should be indefensible that we cannot fund
the AU on our own given the enormous resources wasted
by governments across this country. Why are we able,
ready and willing to spend money on Presidential
vanities and unjust wars but have no resources for
peace and development? Why should anybody take us
seriously if we do not take ourselves or behave seriously?
However, whatever internal resources we generate should
not mean that Africa cannot avail itself of global
resources both material and immaterial. We are part
and parcel of the international community. Any threat
to our peace and security should be a threat to the
rest of the international community.
The AU should not be vilified for asking for help in
Darfur. The real villain is the Khartoum government
that accepted AU intervention without intending for it
to function properly. That ruse has now been exposed as bad faith by a government bent on killing its own peoples.
There is a need for both the AU and the UN to call
The ball is now in the court of the UN whose July 31 resolution is made under
the enforcement chapter of the UN Charter.
What is Khartoum up to in Darfur this time?