Prendergast and Clooney's 'Peace Mission' More Like A War Mission, Says Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

Oct 18, 2010, 17:15 ET from Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Sudan begins to countdown the last days to the conduct of the Referenda for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei, many absurd and outlandish speculations have already cropped up, most of which are part of a campaign led by so-called activist groups intending to stoke fear within the international community. They're screaming "imminent war!" despite the consistent pronouncements made by the two parties reiterating their commitment to avoiding this prospect at all cost.

Actor George Clooney and John Prendergast published an article in Washington Post with this precise aim. They called their excursion to South Sudan and Abyei a "Fact Finding mission". Yet a single glance at the article will leave no doubt that this is the same tired campaign of misinformation that never fails to beat the drums of war. Looking merely at the photos, the fact that there is only one party to the equation does not escape notice. And reading through the content, all those interviewed also hail from only one tribe. It is common sense that if one has any real intentions to be part of a solution, to such a delicate matter, a "fact finding mission" as they claim, neutrality is the only approach. Yet what Prendergast and Clooney have succeeded in doing is fueling the simmering discontent among the neglected Missiriya group. Also labeling this half of the equation as a militia group is the perfect way to further drive the wedge and exacerbate tensions amongst a people.

The Dinka and Missiriya have a long history of peaceful coexistence. They've had occasional disputes, no question. Yet they have been able to resolve them all without the need for outside intervention. If now however some people take it upon themselves to play the role of a mediator and then take sides, this is a sure fire way of igniting the very War that Clooney and Prendergast profess to be working to avert. In fact, the approach stokes racist sentiments within the Missiriya.  

Beyond fear mongering and fueling tensions, the authors have not the slightest regard for facts. They claim that the incident in Abyei two years ago was one masterminded and executed by the Sudan army, when even the former U.S. envoy Williamson himself admitted that it was one wholly initiated locally. It might come as a surprise to Prendergast and his colleague, but Bashir does not own a hut in Abyei, so he has no intentions to take sides against any of the two Sudanese tribes. His only intention and mission is to ensure that an amicable and just solution is reached in Abyei. It has become customary among the activists to point the finger at the President as clearly witnessed in their outrageous claim that President Bashir "prosecuted" the war in Darfur and in the South, not minding the fact that the President wasn't even in the army, let alone a president, when the war in the South began. In fact this relentless bashing of the President is very reminiscent of the profile built around Saddam Hussein during the run up to the invasion of Iraq. We all know the disastrous consequences that ensued thereafter, ones that the world and especially the Iraqis continue to pay for to this day.

The issue of Abyei is one that is the subject of serious discussions between the two parties in an effort to reach a solution that's best for all the residents. Both parties have consistently called for the active engagement of the international community in every step of the way to ensure that the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is smoothly carried out. At one point, they solicited the intervention of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on this very issue of Abyei. And recently there were talks in Ethiopia to resolve the issue. Though suspended, they will soon resume in earnest on October 27th and a comprehensive solution concluded. To suggest a looming war in the face of this determination is simply disingenuous and reveals an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with peace.

Hollywood-like fiction doesn't work on the ground, one has to face the facts and respect reality in order to effectively help. The best way Prendergast and Clooney can help the people of Sudan is simply by staying away.

Embassy of Sudan Press and Information Office

phone: +1-202-338-8565

fax: +1-202-667-2406

SOURCE Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan