ACCORD conducts investigative mission to Khartoum

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An ACCORD Delegation led by Mr Vasu Gounden, Founder and Executive Director, visited Khartoum in 7-10 November 2012, to open lines for fruitful engagement with actors from various levels and backgrounds in Sudan. Additionally, the Khartoum visit provided an opportunity to understand the current situation on the ground, especially following the 27 September agreements with South Sudan, and thereby consider options for responsive programme design for ACCORD's initiatives in Sudan.

In addition to Mr Gounden, the Delegation comprised Mr. Aziz Pahad (Former South African Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and ACCORD Political Adviser), Mr Senzo Ngubane (General Manager, Operations) and Dr Martha Mutisi (Manager, Interventions).

The delegation conducted a number of activities during their stay in Khartoum. Key activities included several meetings with Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohammed Osman the under secretary of the Ministry of foreign affairs and Dr. Nawal Ahmed Mukhtar, Head of Training section at the National Centre for Diplomatic Studies. They also met Dr. Rabie Hassan Ahmed (Director of the Centre for Future Studies), Professor Hassan Mekki Mohamed (Vice Chancellor of African International University, AIU), Dr. El - Tekena (Dean of Medicine, AIU), Mr. Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid (Minister of Interior, Sudan), Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail (Minister of Investment, Sudan), and Mr. Graham Maitland (Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in Sudan).

Other activities included a panel presentation on Peace and Conflict Resolution in Africa at the Centre for Future Studies, conducted by the Mr. Vasu Gounden and Mr. Aziz Pahad. The panel presentation provided for an exchange of ideas on contemporary peace and conflict challenges in Africa, and the strategies for addressing these conflicts. This presentation provided a perfect prelude to a special closed-door meeting with key figures in Sudan's negotiations and peace processes, to discuss peace and security issues in Sudan, which was convened the next day.

With a view towards promoting a multi-track approach to peacemaking and peacebuilding, the ACCORD delegation also interacted with non-state actors in Sudan, including the Vice Chancellor of the African University in Khartoum. Discussions at the university revealed the need for involving civil society and academia in the various peace and development initiatives in Sudan. Universities play a key role in peace and leadership education hence the imperative for their involvement in any discussions on peace and conflict.

The ACCORD mission to Sudan resulted the institution assessing its role in Sudan. There was consensus that a more sustainable engagement with Sudan would involve setting up of an ACCORD office in Sudan. ACCORD's institutional and physical presence in Sudan could facilitate activities such as consultative visits to establish conflict transformation and peace building frameworks, forums, training courses and seminars on conflict management, mediation, negotiation and peace-building for targeted groups.

ACCORD's past work in Sudan has led to a strong conviction by local stakeholders and actors that ACCORD's programming is needed in Sudan. This request for ACCORD interventions is a demonstration of the high esteem, respect and trust accorded to ACCORD by its partners and stakeholders in Sudan.  The institution therefore plans to establish an office in Sudan and deploy staff in the early part of 2013.