9 September 2009
An African Union (AU) panel on Darfur, headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, has submitted its report to the pan-African body.
Delivering the panel’s findings to AU Commissioner Jean Ping on Thursday, Mbeki said that the Darfur conflict could only be resolved by the Sudanese people.
“The resolution of the conflict in Darfur has to be brought about by the Sudanese people themselves and cannot be imposed from outside,” Mbeki said at the handover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The panel was created in February as the International Criminal Court (ICC) was about to prosecute Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was charged with two counts of war crimes: pillaging, and intentionally directing attacks against civilians.
‘No desire to secede’
Mbeki said the panel’s research turned up no desire among Darfuris for independence from Sudan. However, he noted that while Darfuris didn’t want to secede from Sudan, their feelings of marginalisation and underdevelopment should be recognised.
“That root cause is the marginalisation and underdevelopment of Darfur as a result of policies and practices implemented throughout Sudan during both the colonial and post-colonial periods,” Mbeki said.
He pointed out that while the panel’s mandate had been confined to Darfur, they had had “no choice but to consider the wider Sudan setting as it relates to the resolution of the conflict in Darfur”.
Justice, peace and reconcilliation
Mbeki said all parties in the region agree that Sudan’s judicial system must take the lead role in Darfur war crime prosecutions. “Whatever the ICC might have done does not absolve Sudan from acting on crimes that might have been committed,” he said.
“So it is still the responsibility of the Sudanese state to act on those matters.”
Mbeki argued, however, that for justice to be effective, it had to be accompanied by peace and reconciliation.
“Our interlocutors also recognised the reality that the objectives of peace, justice and reconciliation in Darfur are interconnected, mutually independent, equally desirable and cannot be achieved separately from one another,” he said.