August 11, 2008

Is the ESPA not working?

A recent Reuters article is titled: "Sudan's east risks war if soldiers not paid - official"

In the article a [former] Beja Congress leader warns that the peace agreement signed between the Eastern Front and the national government is not working. Promised development funds have not been paid, and promises made to soldiers have not been kept.

Read the original article here

Mousa and Amna Dirar

[date and location of photo not known]
Sourced from files of Dr. Osman Seidi

 Text of original article:

Sudan's east risks war if soldiers not paid - official

Sudan's eastern fighters may return to war if they do not receive money and training to rejoin society as required under an eastern peace deal, a presidential advisor warned on Sunday. Amna Dirar, one of the leaders of the Eastern Front which fought Khartoum for years before they joined a coalition government after a peace deal in 2006, also said only a fifth of the cash promised for developing the impoverished east had emerged in 2008.

"Whenever people are expecting to get their jobs and they justice from previous experience in Sudan and eastern Sudan that means people can take again their weapons and can fight again," she said in an interview. "That is what we are afraid of," she added, claiming that almost 2,000 soldiers have been waiting in camps in the east to be disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated into society, a process called DDR. Another 1,200 have already joined Sudan's police or armed forces.

The east is one of the poorest parts of Sudan with rural malnutrition rates as high as in other conflict areas in Africa's largest country. The population is often afflicted by drought. The east contains much of Sudan's gold reserves, has its only seaport and it is where the oil pipelines also export crude from.

Ms. Dirar said the government should fund projects for the demobilised fighters like training them for farming or giving them cash to open private businesses. However, no money had yet been allocated by the ministry of finance and the fighters were becoming frustrated, she added.

Developing the region was a key reason the Eastern Front took up arms like rebels in Sudan's more famous western Darfur region and the north-south conflict which was Africa's longest civil war. The deal specified $600 million to be paid over four years with $125 million due in 2008. But Dirar said the $25 million so far paid this year for development was not enough. "We are the (most) marginalised of the marginalised," she said. "The $25 million itself cannot solve any kind of problem."

She said the government was struggling to find the cash for all the peace deals it had signed and urged all those who had joined the government to unite efforts to implement the accords rather than all fighting separate battles. "Although we have stopped fighting with weapons still we are fighting words and by committees and meetings to ensure that the peace agreement will be implemented," she said.

Dirar also said many in the east claimed they had not been counted in a national census this year and that the results should be revised so people would accept them.

The census results are due towards the end of the year and are sensitive as they will help decide development quotas and constituencies ahead of Sudan's first democratic elections in 23 years due in 2009.

Dirar said she was not very optimistic the elections would happen on time because the Darfur conflict was still unresolved and that the west had to be included for any vote to be acceptable.

She said her party was open to electoral alliances but may decide to field its own presidential candidate.

So far the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement are the only party to declare they will compete with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

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