During the transitional period leading to the July 9th independence of South Sudan, it is important the Canadian and other governments be engaged fully in Khartoum, Darfur, Abyei and South Sudan.
Law enforcement authorities in Khartoum unfortunately continue to violate fundamental rights. On March 8, for example, riot police arrested and beat dozens of women shortly after they attempted to stage an International Women’s Day protest in the city of Omdurman. Attention must be drawn by Canada to the guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom from arbitrary arrests in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Sudan has ratified.
If the government in Khartoum demonstrates enough good will before and after July 9, Canada could remove it from our list of terrorist organizations. This might help build peace and security in the region, although I’m certainly not advocating that President al-Bashir’s rendezvous with the I.C.C be cancelled. Canada and other countries could also forgive some of Khartoum’s huge debt.
We must continue to maintain focus on Sudan’s region of Darfur. Peacekeepers there have been urged by UNAMID to be more aggressive in protecting people caught up in the fighting and to stop waiting for Khartoum’s clearance to do so. As a result, peacekeepers are now going out on 130 patrols a day (rather than 90) to camps and remote areas and are not requesting permission of the government of Sudan to do their duty. Canada should be more active in the Darfur peace process, partly because unrest there will create more security issues in the South.
The remaining months of negotiations prior to July 9 involve having to deal with some very difficult issues:
I would urge the need for cooperation and interaction with the international community based on the principles of representative democracy, equality of all persons and the rule of law.
Canada and other nations should be positioning themselves now to assist as requested. Our taxpayers have sent about $800-million to Sudan since 2006; Canada still needs to keep Sudan as one of its foreign policy priorities.
The people of South Sudan are struggling to surmount the tests imposed on them by the international community. Now is the time for us to recognize the emerging credibility of South Sudan by actively seeking to engage the Southern Sudanese leadership in governance training in democratic principles and diplomacy as they build their government virtually from scratch. We should permit their leaders to come to Canada to train in the strengths and workings of federalism. A free and accountable nation of South Sudan is at stake.