Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Journal Entries for May 25-28, 2004 on signing the Protocols between the Sudanese Government and the SPLM

May 25: It appears that "peace" is at hand, or to be more exact, that the final three pieces of the "general framework agreement" will be signed tomorrow morning in Kenya. The honchos told Powell this on Sunday when he called and the gang is gathering in Kenya. This is actually still a step or two from the final peace agreement & comprehensive ceasefire but it is a big hurdle passed, provided it happens. With Darfur still a problem, we won't do much in response....

Been taking it easy the last few days, even sunning myself in my garden. Following closely the government's new and improved approach to Darfur. Will have lunch here at home with the security/intell chief [note: Salah Gosh*] on Thursday. But then plan on smoking a peace cigar (in lieu of pipe) Friday on the shore of the Blue Nile and then cruising into our version of the Memorial Day weekend.

May 27: Yesterday, the Sudan government and the SPLM finally signed agreements on the last part of the framework for peace. It took a long time and there are still a few steps to go before a final agreement. In fact, I spent the day thinking about the remaining steps and also about the conflict still going on in Darfur. Didn't think to celebrate or anything. (Though I did tell the staff today -- it happened to be the day of our Embassy awards ceremony** -- that they could be proud of their efforts that contributed to peace for their country.)

On the way home, I passed a large gathering in the center of town. Stopped to take a look. It was an SPLM rally of celebration for peace. When they realized the American Charge was there, they invited me up to speak to the crowd and started chanting pro-USA slogans. The crowd was mostly southerners, a couple of hundred, and mostly students. The rally was organized by the SPLM Youth. The group had been underground until recently. I met the leaders when they declared their group openly several weeks ago. The leaders were earnest young men with Western suits. We all were sweating. I spoke briefly about the US support for southerners to be treated justly and equally and about continuing to work for a peaceful, democratic and united Sudan. They cheered. It only hit me then that for many people, the signing yesterday means peace. They want peace. They want to live normally and many just want to go home.

I had forgotten that all this diplomacy -- words, threats, promises, lies, truths, half-truths, hypocrisies, feints, etc -- was about something very real to lots of people, peace.

May 28: Sometime this afternoon while I was working in the office, a haboob came in. The skies are cloudy and the city is covered in a dust cloud. From inside my air conditioned house, it almost seems like dusk on a fall day. Except that it's well over a 100 outside and the weak light coming in through the windows casts a strange orange glow on everything. Not unpleasant as long as the sand doesn't clog the AC.

Off soon to have drinks with the Norwegian Charge and the guy who got us the pig. Imagine me sitting somewhere in an orange glow drinking something stiff and chatting about pork. When I've sunk deep enough into that reality, I'll go to the home of the assistant president for in-depth political analysis of post-peace agreement. He always has tasty sweets and good coffee to make up for the lack of booze. Finally, it'll be the Ethiopian Embassy to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the overthrow of the previous government. Probably no booze there either but by then I won't need any. Reality here is heady enough.

Spoke thrice with the Foreign Minister in the last 20 hours. On Darfur. Our relations may spike upwards with the peace signing.

Note: * The first time I met one-on-one with Gosh, he put his hand on my knee and informed me that he could have me killed and get away with it.  Indeed, in 1973 the US Ambassador and his deputy were assassinated by Black September folks never caught.

 ** A photo from our awards ceremony:


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