Marginalised areas pose threat to peace, says leading think-tank

26 June (IRIN)

A peace deal in war-torn Sudan will not be sustainable if the grievances driving conflict in the marginalised areas
of Darfur, Abyei, Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba mountains are not fully addressed, the Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) has said.

The current peace talks between the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) were not adequately addressing all of the country's armed conflicts, the ICG said in a new report
entitled 'Sudan's Other Wars'.

"The clear danger is that as long as these groups continue to feel marginalised and their views are not represented in the IGAD process, the pull toward violence will remain compelling."

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is steering the talks which led to the signing of the Machakos Protocol in July 2002.

The grievances of the populations in these regions had long been viewed as matters of "secondary importance", said the ICG. "There is real potential for those who feel ignored by the IGAD peace process to undermine any deal that is between only the Khartoum goverment and the rebel SPLA."

The root causes of the conflict in the contested areas of Abyei, Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba mountains - religion, race, resource distribution, and political marginalisation - were a microcosm of the broader Sudanese
conflict, the report stated.

"The negotiations on the three areas provide an opportunity to create an important peace template by dealing with the core issues of how the country has been governed from the centre."

Negotiations on the three areas took place under the chairmanship of the Kenyan government in March 2003.

The violence in Darfur, which erupted in February 2003, should be the subject of a separate and concentrated initiative - by the government and strongly encouraged by the international community - in order to ensure an
end to hostilities, the report added.

The next session of IGAD peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A is due to start in Kenya on 6 July.