Sudan 
The Future of Northern Sudan after South Sudan’s Secession Symposiums The Third Symposium

The Prospect of a Peaceful Settlement for Abyei Conflict 

Monday 24 January 2011

 

         
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Report  Contents:  1‐ Summary of the Symposium Discussion & Recommendations  2‐ The Symposium Main Paper 

 
Figure 1 Dr Gor & Ahmed Abdel Mokarm

1: Summary and Recommendations
 

The Third Symposium of Justice Africa’s series on Northern Sudan future after Southern Sudan’s secession  was held on January 24th, 2011, and focused on a peaceful settlement for the Abyei conflict.  Although Dinka Ngok is composed of of nine clans the dispute  centres mainly on three clans (Bango,  Marik & Toaj) and only four clans of Messiriya ( Awald Kamil, Fadalia , Awlad Omran and  Mazagna).  Messirya nomadic clans use Al Morhal Al Sharqi & Al Awsat (the Eastern and the middle passages) in their  migration north‐south and south‐north.  Dr Abu Al Gasim Gor presented the symposium’s main paper addressing the issues of how to bring peace  to the area of Abyei. He insisted that peace is not just stopping the war, but instead is a process that starts  with signing of a peace agreement but that needs to be followed by a number of actions to sustain it. 
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The symposium covered a number of issues related to the on‐going dispute in Abyei and its implication for  the relations between North and South Sudan after the separation of the South. Many challenges need to  be addressed in order to pave the way for any sustainable peace and to create an environment for  peaceful co‐existence, in Abyei area including the following:  1‐ Political polarization: Messirya tribe follow the National Congress Party (NCP), and Dinka follow  Sudan people Liberation Movement (SPLM).  2‐ The proliferation of arms  over the last 25 years which started in the mid‐1980s during Al Sidig Al  Mahdi government and increased due to the introduction of the Popular Defence Force.  3‐ Lack of collaboration between the two parties with respect to the Comprehensive Peace  Agreement (CPA), which made South Sudan separation the most likely outcome of the 2011 Self‐ Determination Referendum.  4‐ Politicisation of the Native Administration led to its weakness and the loss of its influential role in  managing and resolving conflicts.  5‐ Southern Sudan Self‐Determination Referendum and the expected secession will become the main  factor behind any negotiations, as the Dinka are keen to remain part of south and the future  Southern Sudan state.  6‐ Oil production: This is one of the richest areas in term of oil production, and motivates both  Khartoum and Juba to keep control of Abyei’s oil resources. The local population of Dinka and  Messirya are mainly motivated by access to the agricultural resources as farmers and pastoralists.    

The development of the Administrative Structure of the Area 
Before 1953 this area was managed under Al Bagara Rural Council which was part of Kordofan  province. In 1953 the name changed to Messirya Rural Council, Deng Majok (the Dinka Ngok leader at  that time) was selected as chairman of the council defeating Babo Nimir  ( Messirya Leader), even  though the majority of the council population were from the Messirya and other tribes from     Sudan.  This shows that Dinka and Messirya have been able to live together in harmony even during recent  times.  After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, and according to Abyei  Protocol, Abyei district became a distinct administrative unit, directly administrated by the Presidency  with a devolved and local administrative structure.   

Recent Developments 
The current status of Abyei is still not settled as the two parties to the CPA failed to reach agreement  on how to address the issue  on how to implement the Permanent Court of Arbitration Decision  regarding  redrawing of the boundaries of Abyei and it will most likely now be resolved after the  separation of the south.   
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The most serious issue which need to be addressed is the continuation of violence. The recent Dinka/  Messirya conference in Kadogli (South Kordofan Capital) looked at the following issues:    1‐ 2‐ 3‐ 4‐ 5‐ 6‐ Security issues  and how to maintain peace and security in the area  How to ensure that the roads are secure to allow the flow of people and goods to the area.  Securing the repatriation of southern Sudanese from the north.   Securing the movement of Messirya and their animals during   their migration to the south.   Assigning security responsibilities to the joint SPLA/SAF units.  Settling 2010‐disputes which led to the loss of lives and agreements concerning the payment of  blood money (Deiat) to victims’ families on both sides. 

  However, some members of Messiriya’s tribe Popular Defence Forces (PDF) rejected the agreement as  they claim it is biased towards the Dinka. This has led to some violent incidents, such as the blocking of  roads .This demonstrates the split within the Messirya tribes, and a lack of leadership with authority  and respect among all sectors of the tribe.  Groups of local activists are working independently to  promote a culture of peace and discourage people from committing any further violent acts.    

The way forward 
The symposium made a number of suggestions on how to break the current deadlock in Abyei  negotiations and to prevent any further violence.    A two‐way‐track process has been suggested:   1‐ Current on‐going negotiations between the NCP and SPLM to settle the Abyei question as one of  the post‐referendum issues.  2‐ To continue the process of peaceful engagement between Messiyria and Dinka, by building  confidence and trust between the two groups in order to prevent the area from sliding into further  violence.    In order to maintain the dialogue between the two tribes there is a proposal to organise a week‐ long retreat for 100 people from the two tribes (50 each) without outside intervention, so that  they can come out with a joint document addressing all the issues of concern to, taking into  account the interests of all local communities.             
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Justice Africa’s Current Engagement with the Messirya 

Since the end of the Justice Africa Dinka/ Messirya  Kadogli conference held on 19‐ 21 December 2010,  Justice Africa continues its engagement with the Messirya tribes as their concerns are perhaps the  least‐well addressed in the peace process. Lack of representation by the senior leaders of the native  administration, and a perception that the views of the younger generation are not being heard. The  senior leaders of the native administration are linked with the National Congress Party (NCP) and  spend most of their time in Khartoum. Some senior leaders showed dissent against the NCP after the  Permanent Court of Arbitration decision, which was perceived to go against the Messirya, which led to  the Setib Conference in September 2010. This conference resulted in a strong resolution led by the  youth against the PCA blaming the leaders of the native administration for what happened. This clearly  shows that the leadership is not in touch with the views of the majority of the tribe, and this weakens  their authority and eventually respect. 

 Some of the Messirya elites with links to the NCP negotiated the status of Abyei during the CPA, negotiations and  later during the PCA process. The agenda of these elite was controlled and managed by Khartoum, which obstructs  the Messirya from seriously engaging with the Dinka to resolve their local issues. 

Many of the elites believe that they can resolve this issue by military means and push some of the  youth towards armed resistance, increasing arms proliferation in Abyei. 

  Engaging the majority of the Messirya in serious peace negotiations and sustaining peace has therefore  proved difficult. Some Messirya activists realise this, and are focusing on raising awareness of peace‐ building activities, focusing particularly on PDF youth and the so‐called ‘Princes of Jihad’. Justice Africa  Sudan has been asked to provide technical and logistical support, and is exploring ways to meet that  demand. 

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2: Symposium Main Paper
Presented By: Dr Abuelgassiom Gor

 Introduction: This paper explores four issues within conflict theories, mainly:     Theory of Relative Deprivation. Theory of Basic Human Needs. Theories of Hegemony. Functionalism as a structural theory of conflict.

In addition, the paper:    Examines political polarization between the NCP and the SPLA/M over the Abyei area. Investigates the roots of the Abyei conflict escalation; uncovering the political conflict between the NCP and SPLM/A over Abyei. Criticizes the politicization and exploitation of the Native Administration of the Msseriya and Dinka Ngok tribes by both the NCP and SPLA/M.

 Hypothesis:  That the Msseriya Bagara livelihood system is collapsing and reasons are :  Climatic change and environmental deterioration.  Proliferation of illicit arms and light weapons.  Native Administration politicization and political unrest

The paper argues that these will lead to one of the following scenarios in the near future: 1) Armed confrontation between the government of northern Sudan and what has been called the 'Peoples’ Defense Princes'. Armed conflict could happen when the Government in Khartoum starts to force the Messriya to accept the Abyei demarcation defined by the Permanent International Arbitration Court (PIAC) in 2008. 1) The SPLA/M could start the implementation of the PIAC demarcation; to ensure that all parts of Abyei demarcated by The Hague in 2008 are included in the upcoming referendum or try to impose any solution which will attach Abyei to the new state in South Sudan

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2) In this case, an armed conflict is likely to break out between Messiriya militias and the SPLA/M. If this were to happen; Abyei could experience another collapse in security just like what happened in 2008.  History of the area and conflict: Due to its geographical location and diverse ethnic structure, Abyei is an important part of the challenge for instituting a peaceful Sudan and managing a successful separation of the south. Historically, Abeyi has been one of the regions most affected by conflict in Sudan.  The escalation of Abyei conflict in view of conflict studies:     First task for analysis is to identify the various theories that could explain a Conflict Each theory must then be applied to a familiar conflict. Conflict studies view assumes that the devastating and tragic incidents of 1964 created historical conflict escalation leading to the 'Abyei cycle of war’ and the Dinka Ngok Trauma. In 1972, the ongoing conflict in Abyei was one of the reasons that led to the collapsing of the Addis Ababa peace agreement. In 2004 Abyei could have disrupted the Naivasha peace talks between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA/M, because it created an identity confrontation between the negotiators.

In 2008 Abyei Town was burnt. The cause of this was the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and the collapse of the so-called Military Doctrine among the Joint Integrated Units. As a result more than 160 people were killed despite the presence of a UN Peace-Keeping Mission. More than 6,000people fled Abyei for Heike Abyei is a major issue dividing the NCP and SPLA going into the 2011 referendum. Continued confrontation and polarization between the NCP and SPLA/M could potentially turn the dispute into an active crisis.

In 2009 PICA declared new demarcations for the boundaries of Abyei

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This has led to what is known as the ‘Corridors Dilemma’. The Messiriya rejected the PAIC demarcation because it did not give them right of access to their traditional grazing corridors.

Corridors
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 Native Administration and Indigenous Knowledge System IKS:  According to functionalism theory:

“Society has functional requisites or imperatives where different functional requisites produce differentiated structures that specialize in accomplishing the requisites” Messiriya Society functional forms have been completely destroyed.  Messirya Native Administration:  The Messiriya Homor (Bagara) native administration consisted of two major clans, the Flayta and Ajaira. However, the community organization is no longer functional due to the government interference with this system. Each of these clans comprises of five sub- tribes called ( Amarh). With sub components of Omdas (Omodih) each Omodih consisted of Shikhs. Each Mashikh consisted of Damins. And each Damin responsible of ( Awlad Ragil ).
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   

The Flayta comprises of the followings five Amarh.

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Missariya Homor

Flay ta
Mtaneen A/Sroor Zued Jobara

Ajaira

t

Slamat

Fyareen

Awlad Kamel

Mazagn a

Omran

Fadliya

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AJJaira

Fdlih Amarh Awlad Kamel Amarh Mazagna Amarh

Awlad Omran Marh

Fyareen Amarh

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Ameer Omda Shikh Damin

 

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Hijacking Messiriya and Ngok IKS:  “It might be remarked here that the position of the Ngok Dinka as a friendly buffer state between the Homor and Bahr El-Ghazal has proved of such value for the preservation of good feeling and prevention of friction that apart from the impossibility of drawing of a boundary.  It would political mistake to transfer them on racial ground to another province. Such a proposal should only be considered at their own request (at present most-improbable) or in event of Homor becoming sedentary people”  K.D.D.Henderson 1935.  Illicit Proliferation of Arms IPA:  Light weapons and arms find their way into the Messiriya community through different ways:

a) In the Third Democracy the Mahdi Regime supported the Messiriya b) In the beginning of Salvation Government through PDF. c) After the CPA was signed in 2005, through weapons trading.         A new generation in the period of 1990-2010 was borne and grown up knowing only conflict. This is War Generation. The result is that traditional means of conflict resolution and thinking and native administration have been hijacked by militias, politicians and political parties.
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Light weapons and small arms trading created its own dynamic and networking. While Messiriya (200000) PDF members supposed to be dissolved according to the CPA. DDR and SLAW only focus on demobilization and disarmament, with little focus on reintegration. Messiriya PDF commanders have joined the Princes of the People defense militias It must be remarked that the Princes of the People defense is not a governmental make up. THIS IS WHAT WE CALL IN PEACE STUDIES A WAR-CYCLE The fact is that the Government cannot force them to surrender their arms.

 Messirya & Aggressive –Frustration:   The Messirya community has developed a pattern of Frustration – Aggression. An excessive level of frustration is accumulated when pursuit of a goal is blocked. Human beings, as goal oriented organisms, naturally become aggravated when they are prevented from achieving what they desire.

 The Messirya Community is prevented from achieving people goals Key Informant Analysis KIA:

Education : By 2020 the basic education system in Abyei could collapse through lack of trained teachers and basic schools infrastructure. Only 40% of teachers have some sort of training, and the lack of teacher training facilities means that very little capacity can be built in education. “Student in 8 levels cannot read or even knows to write his name”.

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 Health Services : “This hospital could be cancelled and closed within the next two years, because of shortages in staff, electricity, and others constrains”. Diseases such as Malaria, Sickle-Cell Anaemia, Hepatitis B, HIV /AIDS and, Dysentery have become endemic. The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is 7% in each of 10 examined blood groups.  Youth , Gender and Security Information According to a Security Officer in Muglad, the area suffers from the illicit proliferation of small arms and lights weapons. The Security Officer emphasized that youth are frustrated in an area known to contain 300,000 light arms (these are only the figures known about by the NSDCC). There is very little employment for youths, and few job programmes. Six out of ten youths are estimated to have Hashish and drug addictions.  Conflict levels:  One: Abyei Grassroots level conflict :

Conflict over resources in the period of 1966-1973. This is the level where conflict was managed and resolved within traditional mechanisms by the Messiriya and Dinka Council of Ajweed and by elders. However, the period was not without problems. In 1964 more than 200 Dinka citizens were burnt in a fire in Babnousa and Muglad, and 101 Messirya citizens were killed in Ragaba Alzarga. These incidents escalated the Abyei conflict and contributed to Abyei War Cycle. The conflict has now exceeded the capacity of traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. Firearms continue to enter the region from the Northern Government and by the movement of Alanana.  Two: Abyei Military Stage Conflict :

At the beginning of the 1970s Some Dinka Ngok joined the Anina 2 .Then Abyei conflict shifted from a grassroots-level conflict into a military and strategic level conflict with gradual mechanism, unfortunately while military administrations in both the government of Sudan and SPLA knew this fact , however they tackled conflict management to tribal and traditional mechanism of the community meanwhile , and from functionalism view, the community organization had completely disrupted and destroyed within political politicization, the community system developed alienation and powerlessness . In this juncture and in 1972 Abyei was one of the reasons that led to the collapse and fragmentation of the Addis Ababa peace agreement.  Third: Abyei International Stage Conflict: The Abyei conflict gained international attention during the Naivasha peace talks of 2004, due to its potential to disrupt this process of negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA/M. This had the result of shifting the negotiation process from the Macro Theory of Conflict to the Micro Theory of Conflict. The peace talks added a third, international, level of negotiation to the first level of negotiation between Messiriya and Dinka tribal leaders, and the second level of negotiators between the NCP and SPLA/M.
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Abyei dilemma came at a time of ‘negotiation fatigue’, and could have jeopardized the entire peace process between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM. In fact, when the Abyei protocol was published it was a pretty accurate representation of the entire Sudanese conflict mosaic. The Protocol is notable still for being infected with three stages of conflict: Identity, Boundary and Security.

 Conclusion:     

Messiriya Native administration exploited. Messiriya Youth suffers frustration.
300,000 small arms are in civilian hands.

Messiriya Princes of Defenses experience anger and rejected PIAC Demarcation.
Between 2007-2010 Messiriya Militias formed armed movements.    Shahama 1. Shahama 2. Shamam.

  

Key Informant Analysis shows : The upcoming 2011 Referendum will fuel armed violence in Abyei. Security has comprehensively collapsed in Abyei. .

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