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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 18:58 GMT
Sudan: At a crossroads?

With elections fast approaching in Sudan, the situation remains volatile.

News and Information for Africa
Veteran opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi has just returned home after four years of waging war against the government. He says that unless new strategies are adopted for Sudan, the country will be "motionless like the sphinx".

Meanwhile the 17-year conflict in the south rages on, with bombs raining daily on rebel-held areas.

Is there any way out of this mess? How would you solve Sudan's seemingly intractable problems?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I believe the main problems of Sudan include poverty and the greed of men in power and their associates

Haile, USA
I believe the main problems of Sudan include poverty and the greed of men in power and their associates. The problem of poverty can be solved through development and education. Decentralising power in Khartoum may solve the second problem including giving the states more freedom to establish local institutions and empowering ordinary people especially women to do more for themselves.
Haile, USA

Do you really expect a conflict based on ethnicity and religion to be ended by the imposition of elections? Elections are wonderful things but they need someone to enforce them and an impartial format to be held within.
Nat, USA

Is the developed world ready to see peace in the Sudan?

Ndung'u Ndegwah, Nakuru, Kenya
Is the developed world ready to see peace in the Sudan? Only when the West and the rest of the global leaders aspire and work towards peace in Africa will we ever have a glimpse of hope. The British colonised the country and then left very different people, both in religion, colour and tradition to be led by one tribe. That is the main problem.
Ndung'u Ndegwah, Nakuru, Kenya

Of all the wars raging in Africa, the Sudan's is the easiest to solve if the political will is there. There is absolutely nothing in common between the people of the South and the North of the country except the relationship between master and slave. Once both sides agree to be liberated from that debased human relationship there will be a solution.
Mairi Vuamai, Nimule, Sudan

Sudan is a mess

Jim Middleton, USA
I am a white American, so my observations are from the outside. I have been in the Southern Sudan several times starting in 1997. I've worked with Sudanese refugees in the US. I've been bombed at, shot at, threatened by all sorts of things in Southern Sudan. I bring medical aid to the people there. If anyone thinks "elections" are going to solve anything they are simply misinformed or unprepared to face the reality of the situation. Sudan is a mess. That mess is multifaceted and multilayered. They are their own worst enemy: The Dinka don't like the Nuer. The Moslems don't like the Christians. The radical Moslems don't like the moderate Moslems. The Arabized Sudanese don't like the Africanized Sudanese. Greed reigns supreme on all sides. Elections solve the problems? You are kidding, right?
Jim Middleton, USA

I am saddened to read the comment of responsible official from the country which created an illegitimate country wrongly named the Democratic Republic of the Sudan to comment that the only way to solve the Sudan problem is through the legitimate government there. Since the end of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan has there ever been a legitimate government in Sudan elected by the real Sudanese for the Sudanese? I believe not so long as those who in the first place created the mess are still stuck to their old tradition as is evident in the comment cited above.
Furgitive, USA

I strongly believe that elections are the best way to solve political problems

Kenneth N. Ngwa, Cameroonian in Princeton, USA
I strongly believe that elections are the best way to solve political problems. Therefore, I think the Sudanese should be educated on the importance of peace in nation building and allowed to choose in a referendum whether they want to remain one nation or be divided. The one way to stop figting is to start talking and well-organised elections, with a clear electoral process agreed upon by both factions, can mean the difference between war and lasting peace.
Kenneth N. Ngwa, Cameroonian in Princeton, USA

There are three options that can bring peace and stability to Sudan and they are; firstly, unity within a united Sudan where state and religion are separated from the constitution; secondly, a federation of states created in the south; and thirdly, the south should be allowed to form an independent state.
Stephen Okot, UK

The problems in the Sudan become more complex with every day that passes by. We knew exactly what we wanted yesterday; an independent South but were ready to settle for autonomy, which we did. Today we are no longer sure. The leadership (in the South) speaks in vague terms of a "New Sudan" which may or may not include self determination for the people of the South. They speak a different language at IGAD and sing another song altogether in Cairo. Unless they set a clear destination it is not clear where they are heading nor would we know when that destination is here. Before we can sit down with the North, let us know first what we want. Vague things like 'fighting for human dignity' important as it may be to the leadership does not mean much to my illiterate old man in Nimule.
Mairi Vuaami, Nimule, Sudan

Sudan is but a creation of the imagination of British colonists

Lotio, Canada
Most people don't realise that the union of North and South Sudan isn't a catholic marriage. Sudan is but a creation of the imagination of British colonists who let their imagination run riot as they were drawing lines here and there, not caring about the consequences. By the time they were done, they realised that they had problems. In keeping with their tradition, they decided to pass the buck and let others worry about their ineptness. The only way out for Sudan is to partition the country into North and South according to the pre-independence border.
Lotio, Canada

The greatest evil in Sudan will always be religious intolerance. Until the people there show respect for each others' beliefs there will be no peace just eternal war and racial hatred.
Mark, Germany

Peace will take place in Sudan, when the leaders of the government and the political parties as well stop playing the stupid games of collecting money over the dead bodies. Then the Sudanese people can stop and defeat any foreign interference locally (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda...) or internationally (USA and the rest).
Mustafa Tato, Eritrea

I believe the problem in Sudan can only be solved through negotiation and democratic process

Yebio, Canada
I believe the problem in Sudan can only be solved through negotiation and democratic process. Religion must be separated from politics. Islamic law should be abandoned as it proved to be divisive. The southern Sudan people should be given a chance of self determination but at the same time the government of Sudan and the world community should encourage them to remain part of Sudan since there is greater mutual economic benefit providing that the government of Sudan meets confidence building measures.
Yebio, Canada

The problem in Sudan has been going on for more than 30 years because the northerners refused to allow the south exercise its right for self determination. Now, due to Sudan's vast geographical nature, it is becoming a sanctuary to rebel movements from all countries that have common border with the African giant. For this reason, the Sudanese problem is a regional problem. If peace is going to come to Sudan, there must be a global peace in the region.
Million, Canada

The problem of the Sudan is that of an Arab and Islamic north that tries to impose itself over an African and Christian South. On account of the differences in race, religion and ethnicity of the two regions. An internationally established arrangement under the auspices of the UN and backed by the OAU which gives a greater degree of autonomy in economic, social, religious and cultural matters to the South and allows for a form of international intervention in the eventuality of a violation of the same international arrangement may help in solving the problem of civil war in the Sudan.
Anthony Musonda, Zambian student in Germany

There is no way out for the conflict to end in Sudan due to the lack of leadership on those who rule the country since independence

Riek P. Riek, South Sudan
No, there is no way out for the conflict to end in Sudan due to the lack of leadership on those who rule the country since independence. This War is all over Sudan right now and is not the old south/north conflict. Muslims in the north will not abandon Sharia and we will not compromise our right of calling for justice to all Sudanese no matter what colour they are or what religion they worship.
Riek P. Riek, South Sudan

If there were ways into a conflict and/or disagreement, I believe that there must be a way out. The crucial point is do we really want to end conflicts? Who is who's spokesperson? And most of all, what do the real people that suffer the consequences want? Peace can be had as long as there is the good will from both sides.
Debebe D, UK

Intensive mediation by the West to end the war would be more beneficial to Sudan

Damilola Olajide, Nigerian, in Melbourne Australia
Not to mince words, it appears that the West is contributed significantly to the seemingly Sudanese unending war. First, why is it that certain counties in the West are interested only in taking war refugees from the Sudan under the guise of immigration or resettlement programs? Is it resettlement that is necessary for the biggest African country in landmass with enormous potentials? This would do Sudan no good in real terms in the future. An intensive mediation by the West to end the war would be more beneficial to Sudan, as those already outside Sudan could come back home to help their fatherland develop?

Secondly, Sudan does not manufacture arms and ammunition with which the Sudanese people kill one another. The United Nations Organisation has all it takes to block the sources of the arms supply to Sudan, both to the government and to the rebels, and mediate between the warring factions. The strong presence of UNO and OAU will encourage other countries to contribute as well. The continued war portrays the weakness of the so-called Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as an umbrella under which African countries could jointly mediate in the war in Sudanese. Just when the war will end remains a mater of conjecture if the issues raised here are not addressed.
Damilola Olajide, Nigerian, in Melbourne Australia

A good solution to the Sudan problems could be to divide the country .The problem however is that all parties in the conflict do not agree as to where the border of north and south is because each one wants the mineral rich area to be in their land. This is the more foreseeable solution because the war is not win-able. I call the international community to look into this matter as enough suffering and blood lettings have been witnessed in this country.
Oscar Edule, Uganda

Organisation of African unity Executive members should consider the issue of Sudan very seriously rather than allowing the Arab countries interfering in the internal affairs of Sudan. The fundamentalist government in Khartoum should stop bombing the civil population in southern Sudan, otherwise there will no any peaceful settlement of the civil war. The Arabs should understand that Sudan will not have peace as long as IsIamic Fundamentalist ideology is maintained in Sudan and also it appears that executive members of the OAU have failed to solved the problems of Sudan and my advice to them, to resign and give the chance to others with new ideas.
Michael Aringo, Zimbabwe

The problem in Sudan is compounded by the political unrest in the Horn of Africa. The root cause of the problem in Sudan, like its neighbouring countries, is greed and ignorance of the so-called "leaders" and "rebels", who impose unbearable sufferings upon the very people they claim to care for or liberate. Let democracy decide the fate of the people. Give them a chance so that their voice can be heard. You should have realised by now that force is not going to solve the problem. For the sake of the children and helpless people of Southern Sudan stop your senseless fighting and resolve your differences in a round table discussion. It is my hope that the international community and media will continue to pressure the two parties to come to their senses and bring lasting solution to the people.
Melkamu Zeleke, Ethiopian living in USA.

I believe the Sudan's problem, which was turned by the successive governments in Khartoum to a war against the indigenous African peoples in the South and the marginalised to force them to be Arabs and Muslims, cannot be solved unless by genuine intervention of the international community, which is busy with problems like the Israeli - Palestine conflict, forgetting about the massacres committed by Khartoum regime which is killing many innocent women and children.
Mayik Kornelio Koriom, India

Our objective for the Southern Sudan to be secular is the real objective. We will never agree with Arabs to live together as brothers and sisters. You the world community can look into this. Now children in Southern Sudan and Nuba Mountains are dying in the dust without education.
Lam Chuol Thichuong, USA

To the Sudanese, especially the Muslim Vs Christianity the thought is better to die than live to suffer

Oscar Edule, Uganda
I personally think the Sudan war and sufferings is far from over. Look at the many factors and factionalist interests: oppositions, SPLA, former allies like Al Turabi, the question of Islam versus Christianity among others. Most of the affected people in the Sudan conflict are not ready to sacrifice. To most of them especially the Muslim Vs Christianity the thought is better to die than live to suffer and this leaves them with this option: Fighting. I think the problem is far from over.
Oscar Edule, Uganda

Self determination enshrined in the UN charter is the only solution to the chronic disease in the Sudan. The south should be free to decide on their own affairs like many other people in the world. People in the Sudan border; mainly, in the war torn southern part of the country are badly affected by the war as the southern Sudanese. Peace in the Sudan is the only breakthrough for sustainable development to people such as Anuak in Gambela. Hence, this task should not be limited to the Sudanese people who can not come to compromise at all.
Instead, it should be the international issue as it affects the international peace. The return of former prime minister will not change any thing in the peaceful settlement of the conflict. He is frustrated with the development in the neighbouring states including the Sudan.
Odok Chaange, Gambela

First and foremost, what is the war about? There is no way to solve Sudan's problems. Poor countries and poor people love to destroy their properties and their countries. Why waste time on those uneducated fools who masquerade as freedom fighters. Most of them will never enjoy the pleasures of life.
Ahmed Sesay, USA

Sudan does not need balkanisation

John Pritchett, USA
Part of the solution to Sudan's seemingly intractable problems is for other countries to act via the legitimate Government of Sudan and put an end to the divide and conquer politics that pit the North against the South. While Khartoum needs reform, Sudan does not need balkanisation.
John Pritchett, USA

The outside world needs to understand the situation. Sudan never makes the headlines. Most people in the West don't even realise that civil war is continuing. Our political correctness won't let us condemn some practices because of the issues surrounding religion so the war has been censored out of the media. The killing still continues. When will the world recognise Sudan?
Matthew, UK

One should never give up hope. The only way peace can be achieved in Sudan is when democracy is fully implemented with a political system that is fair to all Sudanese people. The government of Sudan, and the Spla have finally realised that this war can not be settled in the battlefield.
Elmamoon, USA

Peace will happen

Hassan E, Sudan
I expect that Sudan will reach a stage where it has to find peace with the south to take full advantage of the country's resources. Peace will happen, it just depends on how many years it will take the government to reach this realisation.
Hassan E, Sudan

Sudan is overwhelmed by a racist war waged against the Black-African south by the Arabic north. The north receives a lot of political support and weapons from the Arab world to ensure the domination and destruction of the Africans. What is appalling is how the rest of the world has remained apathetic and mute towards the brutal killings of black Africans in Sudan. Unless there is sincere involvement by the rest of the world, a warring future is quite certain for the Sudanese people.
George Mutua, Kenya

I believe fighting will solve nothing though SPLA/M managed to address the problem in Sudan nationally and internationally. Now is the time for all political bodies in Sudan to make a second move by forming a national transitional government and allow all margined areas to decide for themselves - enough is enough.
Ahmed Ambady, Australia

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See also:

24 Nov 00 | Africa
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27 Jun 00 | Africa
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Analysis: Power struggle in Sudan
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