Khartoum, Sudan, September 2007
Avoiding Violence: Approaching Peace locally in Sudan
A conflict analysis based on the experience of a student in Sudan.
After the death of John Grang in August 2005 -the vice president of Sudan and the SPLM’s leader in the South Sudan at this time - several clashes happened; cases of killing; raping women; burring shops almost done by the southerner’s people, due to their anger of killing their leaders and the wrong information said to them. On the other hand, the state did not control the situation early; because some of them wanted the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to fail. Under this tension there were some attempts to manipulate the population form the South and North to kill each other; situation that could be gone under control and end up in a new ethical cleansing.
In this tension and insecurity situation, the women form the civil society immediately held meeting with all those other women who work with NGOs and who were active in different political parties. We discussed the situation in depth and the different possibilities of Sudan to returning to civil war.
As a result of these meetings, we organized ourselves to assess the tension between different groups and enhance trust and calm. Meanwhile, each group consisted of eight women (four form the South and four form the North) and each group visited the tension and clashes areas and spoke with the different involved parties, through reminding them the following issues: 1) the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); 2) Dr. John Grang’s goal was the peace not war; 3) the state suppose provides security and right information in the Sudanese mass media;4) the police responsible to stop the insecurity situation in Khartoum not the normal people (because this will create ethnic clashes); 5) we all Sudanese and we all are very sad of the death of Mr John; and 6) CPA is for Sudan not connected to the death or live of one of political leaders.
Moreover, the different groups visited injured people at the hospital and gave condolences to the families who lost somebody during the clashes. Besides that we made announcements in the TV and radio, also disseminated an appeal for stopping any insecurity actions. In total the groups were ten and in two days all this activities were developed. As results the tension turned into calm; some trust was recuperated between the two groups and even some males started to come and ask us what they supposed to do. The civilians were mobilized seeking for security and peace in this hard situation before the state. On the third day, there were no clashes and people started to reflect their sadness through talks about Dr. Grang and how they should protect the peace agreement even if the state did not wanted it.
Through this experience one can see that a proper early response should be quickly; suitable to the conflict situation and social and cultural perspectives. There are some positives ideas and information that needs to be said to bring confidence rather to increase distrust between the antagonized groups. Is for this reason that I think that with an appropriate and well prepared early warning and early response upraising violence can be prevented, improving the conditions of the population in conflictive situations.
Through a life experience the author argues what can be done in critical situation in order to avoid a violent up rise. According to the author, the early response should be quick; suitable to the conflict situation’s social and cultural situation. Thus, early warning and early response are most important for security and development.
The author of the file is Mey Eltayeb Ahmed. At the time of writing, Mey Eltayeb Ahmed is PhD candidate at Khartoum University and works for the Executive Committee of a Peace and Development NGO in Sudan.