I came across the above article dated 18th February 2013 on the website of the Liberal Democratic Party – Sudan (LDP) which I read with great interest.
However, it is my opinion that the piece does not give the full picture. I think the below points should be given due consideration in order to be able to portray a more balanced view of the situation.
The Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan entered into negotiations under the guidance of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and South Sudan and signed a number of agreements in Addis Ababa on 27th September 2012. There were further negotiations at beginning of January 2013.
In the “Agreement on Certain Economic Matters” it was settled under Para 6, inter alia, to pursue a joint approach to the international community to gain support for programmes and projects responding to urgent development challenges in both countries.
As the Federal Republic of Germany has pledged with other countries to actively support the peace and reconstruction process in and between the two Sudans, it responded positively to a request from the two governments in accordance with the aforementioned agreement to have a “Germany – Sudan and South Sudan Business Day” organised by German business through the Afrika Verein (German-African Business Association) and the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry. So the Business Day took place on 29th January 2013.
Business interactions in and with other countries were indeed postponed as mentioned in the article, but will take place this year. The delay was due to the fact that the negotiations had not been finalised and had not covered all problem areas yet. As I have heard the interactions in and with Turkey will happen soon and other countries are very keen to follow.
The business interaction was not a Government activity though it had the support of the German Government in line with the agreements mentioned and the objective to bring peace and development to the region, specifically to Sudan and South Sudan.
As the business day in Germany was held under the patronage of the German Government, the Foreign Minister opened the meeting with a welcome speech. In this he pointed out that peace and reconciliation between the two countries require economic development, economic interactions and social participation.
One of the building blocks for a brighter, more democratic, more prosperous future for all is the establishment of a vibrant and open economy, in which all citizens have the opportunity to participate. Doing business in such an environment is what Germany is interested in. The shift to such an economy,however, is not easy and will require much time and many negotiations of all sorts. One must start somewhere.
The minister put particular emphasis on the fact that the existing problems in Dafur, Kordofan, Blue Nile and Jonglei as well as in other places and regions have to be solved.
He stressed that the German government supports the peace process to help the people, the human beings in both countries. In addition and very importantly,he expressed the view that the potential of the region can only be of advantage to the people if the following preconditions exist: 1) Good Governance, 2) the rule of law and 3) the comprehensive realisation of human and civil rights. Only once these preconditions are fulfilled can the two states have a bright future. According to the minister, a vital part of these conditions is that civil society organisations as well as the media can work freely and without constraints.
The above shows that Minister Westerwelle is aware of the problems which the article points out and is pushing for the implementation of key liberal values.
In a way the article calls for a boycott of the Sudanese Government due to its terrible record of human rights violations, the misuse of public funds and corruption. I am aware that there are two schools of thought: one that calls for a boycott,no interactions with government and a constant attack on the regime. The other school argues for continued interaction without denying the violations but bringing those up only in each and every interaction.
From my own experience I would advocate against a boycott as that will not bring about a solution. Cutting off all interactions would rob one of the opportunity to influence the situation entirely. It would also stand in the way of developing an exit strategy for the powers that be. I do not see that a boycott will aid in changing the government or the actions of people in government. Their stance would harden. Hostility would grow. I am also aware that interactions will not bring an immediate or short term change. The transition from corruption and oppression to peace, democracy, openness and equal opportunity for all is a slow and painful process and I can understand that one might become impatient.
I am sure that the African Liberal Network to which LDP is a member will help to push for democratic reforms and its implementation in all member countries.
Hubertus von Welck
Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit
Regional Office Africa
PO Box 1130