About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration currently serves as the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan. (August 25, 2009)
I just returned from my trip to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt, and I am very happy to report on two steps towards real progress we were able to achieve. I already wrote about the first positive development, the initialing of the bilateral agreement between the SPLM and NCP to further implementation of the CPA. I want now to let you know about the second achievement of the trip.
This Saturday I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet with leadership from four key Darfuri armed movements [Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Unity, SLM/Abdel Shafie, SLM/Abdel Wahid leadership, and the United Resistance Front (URF)] to build cohesion and unification in support of the Doha peace process. After many fruitful and engaging discussions, these groups have signed an agreement to unify politically, begin steps towards establishing a unified position, and return to the Doha peace process with one approach and one voice. This is very good news, and it is the largest step towards unification of Darfuri armed movements since 2005.
It is very unfortunate that Abdel Wahid al Nur distanced himself from the decision of his field commanders who signed the agreement in Addis. We will continue to make every effort to include Abdel Wahid in the peace process, but it is up to him to make a positive difference for the people of Darfur or to sit on the sidelines in Paris. I hope he will choose the former. This issue is bigger than individuals. This is about ensuring that the will of the people of Darfur is carried out in a process that can make a difference and achieve peace.
To achieve peace in Darfur, we need as broad and inclusive a peace process as possible. To do this we need a unified voice for Darfuri armed movements. This agreement brings us one step closer to this and to peace in Darfur. Though this is a very positive development, it is important to remember that broader unification and the inclusion of civil society as a voice in the peace process are still needed. That is why, despite progress, we have no time to spare and no time to hesitate. I will be headed back to Sudan in just a few short weeks to resume trilateral discussions with the NCP and SPLM. I will continue to meet with all Darfuri armed movements willing to talk with the goal of broader unification. I will continue to look for ways to include civil society in the peace process. I will work to include, cooperate, and engage with the advocacy and NGO communities to ensure that our efforts are known and are in support of our common objectives.
Stay tuned for more updates. Thank you, Scott.
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