UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
SUDAN: Hope for "new momentum" at IGAD talks
NAIROBI, 15 April (IRIN) - Donors hope for a new momentum at the next round of Sudan peace talks, due to start in Nairobi next week. However, a humanitarian ceasefire extension beyond 25 April is uncertain.
Thursday, 15 April, marks the end of the current humanitarian ceasefire in parts of southern Sudan particularly affected by food shortages, and only a ten-day extension is assured at present. Donors support proposals for a new Kenya special envoy to be appointed to speed up the peace process.
Well-placed diplomatic sources told IRIN that the government of Sudan has offered an extension of the humanitarian truce only if talks on a comprehensive ceasefire continue. This means, humanitarian sources say, that after the end of talks under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) from 20-25 April, there is no guarantee of a continuation. The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) has offered a longer ceasefire in the famine-hit areas of the south, but rejects a comprehensive ceasefire until more progress is made in the IGAD talks.
IGAD, formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development, was formed in 1986 in Djibouti. Its Sudan peace activity is under increased focus of donors grouped in the IGAD Partner's Forum (IPF) who last met in Olso on 10 March. The IPF hopes for "urgent enhancement" of the IGAD peace process. Its slow progress and long adjournments between meetings have attracted criticism from within and outside Sudan, diplomats say. An offshoot of the IGAD process designed to consider humanitarian issues - the Technical Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (TCHA) - is set have its second meeting next month in Europe.
Another conclusion of the IPF meeting was that "the current aid flow from the donor community to Sudan would be difficult to maintain in the long run, without an accelerated and strengthened political process toward peace, which is the only means of achieving a stable and durable solution to the conflict". In Oslo, the IPF discussed providing financial support to a "dedicated secretariat" to support a new Kenya special envoy to "mount a concentrated and continuous mediation effort."
A recent review of the Kenya-led IGAD Sudan peace process, sponsored by the US Instutute for Peace ( http://www.usip.org ), suggested that the four other countries of IGAD: Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda (Somalia's participation is in abeyance) disagree about the best overall solution. The Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict, and shifting regional and international alliances "may have paralysed the [IGAD] secretariat", the report continues.
Other diplomatic and media sources suggested to IRIN that the weakening of the Uganda-Ethiopia-Eritrea coalition opposed to Khartoum would help the peace process. A regional analyst told IRIN that the SPLM also was "a bit disorientated" by the shifting alliances in the Horn, but the IGAD process was now threatened by other problems "being drawn into it".
The search for peace in Sudan under the auspices of IGAD started in November 1993. In the intervening years, IGAD's involvement in the Sudan peace process has been part of its transformation from a humanitarian early warning organisation to a broader regional grouping, observers say. However, concrete progress in resolving the Sudanese conflict has been elusive, while the future of its Ethiopia-led peace-making role in Somalia is also doubtful.
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 16:26:13 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: SUDAN: Hope for "new momentum" at IGAD talks 
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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