Interview with Professor Adam Azzain Mohamed

Professor Adam Azzain Mohamed. Photo by Christian Palme.

The conflict and crisis in the Sudanese region of Darfur is the focus of the research of Professor Adam Azzain Mohamed, who currently holds the Claude Ake Visiting Chair at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.

The Claude Ake Visiting Chair is a collaboration between the Nordic Africa Institute and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research. Professor Azzain Mohamed will hold the Claude Ake Memorial Lecture at the Nordic Africa Institute on 21 May 2008.

Professor Azzain Mohamed is a national of Sudan with personal roots in the Darfur region. He is Director of the Institute for the Study of Public Administration and Federal Governance at the University of Khartoum, the Sudan. He holds a Ph.D. from Florida State University, USA.

The uneven regional development and resource allocation in Sudan has been the focus of Professor Azzain Mohamed’s research and was the theme for his Ph.D. thesis at Florida State University. He traces the roots of the current conflict in Sudan back to the incorporation of Darfur in the Sudan by the British colonial powers in 1916. The British colonial rule left Darfur underdeveloped, focusing instead on the relatively well developed center and the region around the capital Khartoum.

- My theory is that Sudan is characterised by uneven development, says Professor Azzain Mohamed. The government of independent Sudan continued the policies of the British colonial rulers, leaving Darfur underdeveloped.

- This was not intentional, but based on objective macroeconomic reasons.

The current conflict is rather three separate conflicts, in the view of Professor Azzain Mohamed. There is a conflict between the center and the region, an intergroup conflict and a conflict for leadership within Darfur. The conflict is manipulated by the central government, by taking sides between the warring groups.

Professor Azzain Mohamed is very critical of the Western approach to conflict resolution in Darfur. The most misleading conception has been to view the conflict as a civil war and to approach it with models from Western states. To approach the conflict with indictments from the International Criminal Court is not conducive to peace, according to Professor Azzain Mohamed. Darfur has a rich tradition of customary mediation in conflict and this is, in his view, the key to peace in the region.

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