Spare a thought for the other Sudanese (Julie Flint)
Photo: Julie Flint, co-author, with Alex de Waal, of “Darfur: A New History of a Long War,” has written extensively on Sudan. Further details below.
From THE DAILY STAR :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb
Spare a thought for the other Sudanese
Commentary by Julie Flint
Friday, 14 January 2011
As southern Sudanese celebrate their self-determination referendum, spare a thought for those they leave behind – all those in northern Sudan for whom the birth of an independent state in the south of the country will be the death of a dream: the democratic, decentralized “New Sudan,” united and free of racial, ethnic or religious prejudice, which was the stated aim of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (S.P.L.M./A.) under the leadership of John Garang.- - -
Conventional wisdom has tended to be that the National Congress Party (N.C.P.) of President Omar al-Bashir would fight tooth and nail to prevent the South seceding. Prominent commentators, especially in the United States, have warned that another “genocide” was on the cards. One went as far as to say the violence was likely to resemble “what happens in a stockyard.” Instead, Bashir recently traveled to the southern capital, Juba, on the eve of the vote and promised “to respect the choice of the citizens of the South.”
The North-South understanding is of course fragile. There are many flashpoints, many spoilers, and many people in Khartoum who think Bashir has given away too much (a third of the country, three-quarters of national oil production, and much rich grazing land that is of critical importance to northern pastoralists). Generally, however, the approach of the president’s N.C.P. seems to be that the S.P.L.M. has set secession as its objective, and the N.C.P. will accept it, but also make the price very high.
Part of the price is that the S.P.L.M. will not be permitted to continue as a political party in the North. The S.P.L.A., the armed wing of the S.P.L.M., will be permitted no presence – except for a minority that could be integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces (at the discretion of the N.C.P., and on its terms). The S.P.L.M. and its international backers must accept that they will have no role or access across the new border after partition.
Already there are signs that the N.C.P. is closing down in terms of tolerating dissent in the North – military offensives in Darfur, arrests of journalists and activists in Khartoum, inflammatory statements from the very top of the N.C.P., especially regarding the future of southerners in the North. Notice to quit has been served on the United Nations peacekeeping force, or U.N.M.I.S.
There is special concern among the Nuba people of Southern Kordofan state, “African” tribes at the southern limit of the Arabized North, many of whom fought alongside the southern S.P.L.A. for 15 years, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. A special protocol in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (C.P.A.) that ended the civil war failed to satisfy the aspirations of S.P.L.M. supporters in the Nuba region and the second “protocol state,” Blue Nile – most importantly, their demand for self-determination.
The Nuba war was a civil war in its own right, an indigenously mobilized rebellion with strong local roots. With international attention focused on the conflict in southern Sudan, Khartoum sealed the region off from 1991 until 1995. At its height, the war was not only a war to defeat the rebels; it was a program of forced relocations designed to empty the mountains and resettle the Nuba in camps where their Nuba identity would be erased. Humanitarian access was denied. Educated people and intellectuals were detained and killed, according to a security officer who later fled the region, traumatized by what he himself had overseen. The aim, as he recalled, was “to ensure that the Nuba were so primitive that they couldn’t speak for themselves.”
After 1991, cut off even from the S.P.L.A. in southern Sudan, the Nuba fought alone, without resupply from the South. In the middle of a three-year famine, they established a civilian administration and judicial system, organized a religious tolerance conference, and took a popular vote on whether to fight on or surrender.
The unique nature of the rebellion was one of the reasons why the Nuba became something of a cause célèbre for a few years, once the atrocities of the government’s war in the mountains were exposed. Then came the C.P.A., and the war in Darfur. The Nuba fell off the agenda and implementation of the provisions relevant to them in the C.P.A. was neglected – jobs, development, and, critically, the formation of a new national army incorporating S.P.L.A. units.
On July 9, the C.P.A. will end – and with it the agreements that determine the fate of the Nuba people. A leaked N.C.P. document has identified them as “new southerners,” who must be “weakened … controlled [and] pulled out at the roots.” Secessionists, in other words. Rightly or wrongly, many Nuba fear the worst, beginning now.
The promised “popular consultations” for the two protocol states to review C.P.A. implementation remains a weak and ill-defined mechanism that can be drawn out indefinitely by disagreement with the center – even if the concept survives a North-South split. Southern Kordofan needs more than a popular consultation. It needs an internationally mandated mechanism to oversee implementation of unfulfilled C.P.A. commitments beyond the end of the C.P.A. It needs agreement on a new international presence, with examination of non-U.N. options in case Khartoum remains opposed to U.N. troops. It needs security mechanisms acceptable to and involving S.P.L.A. units. Northern Sudan as a whole needs the democratization the C.P.A. promised to deliver, but didn’t.
Southerners may feel they have won their battle. Northerners have not.
BOOK: "DARFUR: A NEW HISTORY OF A LONG WAR"
Authored by Julie Flint and Alex de Waal
Image courtesy: Amazon. Further details online at:
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LATEST NEWS FROM SRS - SUDAN RADIO SERVICE:
Thursday, 20 January 2011 (Kadugli) – The people of southern Kordofan are still waiting for a response from the national election commission on when the new voter registration exercise will start.
The SPLM spokesperson and the information secretary in Southern Kordofan Mohammedan Ibrahim spoke to SRS on Thursday from Kadugli.
[Mohammedan Ibrahim]: “Now we are organizing for the elections in southern Kordofan so that afterwards we go for a popular consultation. We are now in the process and the Election Commission is insisting that they will work with the old register. However, all the political parties in the state are rejecting that. Last week citizens of South Kordofan went on a peaceful demonstration. They took a letter from the political parties to the commission rejecting the old register. Finally the commission stopped the process. The commission in Khartoum held a meeting and we reached a solution that they will work with the new census result. However up to now the election commission hasn’t announced the new timetable for the registration exercise in southern Kordofan.”
Mister Mohammedan Ibrahim explains the controversy behind the delay of the new voter registration exercise for elections scheduled two months after the southern Sudan Referendum.
[Mohammedan Ibrahim]: “There are two sides on the story. One, the people of southern Kordofan have rejected the first census result. The census was done yes but there are new geographical constituencies. Again there are some elements in Khartoum who are trying to delay the elections. But this will be the deadline and we will organize a popular consultation which will be peaceful. If there is anyone who doesn’t want popular consultation to take place thinking that if it doesn’t happen it will kill the will of the people of Southern Kordofan then that person is mistaken. Our will, will never die. We will struggle to tell them we got the right of our people.”
Initially, the registration was scheduled to start on January 16th but has now been postponed till further notice.
Over the weekend citizens of Southern Kordofan held a peaceful demonstration against what they call inappropriate procedures of the voter registration process.
According to the CPA, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states will hold elections before the popular consultation exercise in the two regions.
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Thursday, 20 January 2011 (Khartoum/UK) – The United Nation Security Council is urging the federal government not to get involved in aerial bombardments in Darfur but work towards a ceasefire arrangement with the anti-government groups in the region.
On Wednesday, the federal Advisor to the minister of information, Dr. Rabie Abdulaati accused some elements inside the UN-SC of wanting to create a new conflict in Darfur.
Abdulaati says this call by the UN Security council comes after the federal government has fulfilled its commitment to the people of Southern Sudan by conducting a self determination referendum.
[Rabie Abdulaati] “It is clear that this call in which the Security Council urges to stop air raids in Darfur comes at a time when the comprehensive peace agreement was implemented. They fully know that the Sudanese government originally aimed at peace stability, not only in Southern Sudan, but all over Sudan.
This call only came to draw attention once again, after peace was established in Southern Sudan, and chance was given to Southern population to decide its fate through the ballot box, for whether to secede or unite, this achievement should have been the axis upon which Western countries should concentrate. Instead of calling to stop air rides which don’t exist.”
However, the anti-government group the Justice and Equality Movement welcomes the call for negotiation by the Security Council.
The Justice and Equality Movement leader Al-Tahir Al-Faki told SRS about their readiness to reach a peace agreement with the federal government if the latter shows serious willingness to negotiate a political solution in Doha.
[Al-Tahir Al-Faki] “JEM accepts that the ideal solution for Darfur is a peaceful agreement and the last part is that the solution must be a comprehensive one. Not that a single movement to sign an agreement with the Sudanese government. The movement praises the stand by the UN and assures that, the movement believes in the strategic peaceful resolution, and it will be available at Al-Doha for that purpose.”
JEM delegation in Doha started last December talks on a cessation of hostilities agreement with the federal government. The mediation team said the movement is committed to engage political talks after the agreement.
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Thursday, 20 January 2011 (Abyei) – Tensions are once again rising in Abyei, with SPLM accusing the Messeriya community in Abyei of continuing road blocks in the region.
This comes just a week after the Ngo’k Dinka and Messeriya communities signed an agreement on secession of hostilities and a peaceful co-existence in Kadugli in Southern Kordofan.
The deputy SPLM chairman for Abyei area, Juach Agok, spoke to SRS on Thursday from Abyei.
[Juach Agok]: “Yes, the road has been blocked and commodities and the IDPs are being prevented from coming in to Abyei .Possibly, the Messeriya are behind this, but, behind them is the popular defense force which was formed by the government. So, I still do not point a finger to the Messeriya alone; the Central Government is behind it also. This started long before the start of the referendum and up to now, they are still blocking roads, looting and raping. They say it is the Messeriya but actually, it is the NCP because the NCP is using the Messeriya so that they Claim Abyei through the Messeriya.”
Juach Agok is urging the federal government and the Government of Southern Sudan to resolve the matter rather than considering it a problem of the Abyei people.
[Juach Chol]: “This thing should not be left to the people of Abyei because this road is connecting the whole of Warrap state , part of Unity state, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, Western Bahr el Ghazal , even Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria use this road .So, it should be taken seriously by the Government of Southern Sudan . And, the humanitarian issue because some people have now spent more than 20 days on the road, suffering of hunger just because of this blockade. So, we appeal to the Government of Southern Sudan to take this as an important issue and not just leave it like that.”
Efforts to reach the federal government for a response were unsuccessful.
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Thursday, 20 January 2011 (Wau) – The residents of Wau town, capital of Western Bahr El-Ghazal State have expressed satisfaction with the preliminary results of the self-determination referendum in their state.
The state referendum high committee announced on Wednesday that Western Bahr El-Ghazal state scored ninety-five percent secession votes during the polling process.
Sudan Radio Service spoke to some residents of Wau town on Thursday.
Mister Faohat Richard Hasssan Maburuk is the Secretary-General of the Islamic Council for Southern Sudan:
[Faohat Richard Hasssan]: “What happened was expected because the people of Wau actually truly they are always with what Southern Sudanese are up to. Whatever a Southerner wants to do he would do it. As such, our opinion is that this referendum has come and passed peacefully and its result is what pleases the citizens of Western Bahr El-Ghazal State now. Every Southerners must accept this result and be pleased by it. All of us must accept this result because it was what was expected”.
Madam Antonit Benjamin Bubu is a woman activist in Wau:
[Antonit Benjamin Bubu]: “As a woman in Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, I am very happy indeed about the results announced yesterday and I have accepted these results, because truly there was a spirit of democracy manifested and truly the referendum was free and fair, because there is no where all the people are the same. If the results were to be hundred percent secession then there would be nothing like that it wouldn’t have been free because everybody has their own opinion. When it was reported that there were unmarked papers, it means there were people who were neither for unity nor for secession.”.
Madam Angelina No is another woman activist in Wau:
[Angelina No]: “I am very happy indeed with the result which scored the percentage of ninety-five secession votes. I am talking in the name of women of Western Bahr El-Ghazal State and a citizen, I am urging those who voted for unity to change their opinion, I am demanding that let them change their opinion because our aspiration in the referendum was that we determine our destiny as Southern Sudanese. For anybody who voted for unity should change their mind. People say it was democracy, but we as southerners all of us were supposed to vote for secession because we want to determine our destiny as southerners in order to be free so that we don’t continue to be second-class citizens, we want to be first-class citizens in our own country Southern Sudan”.
Michael Manyel Masheik is a youth in Wau:
[Michael Manyel Masheik]: “We were expecting the result to be more than that, but the result which is ninety-five percent is a honorable result, it is good. I would like to congratulate the people of Western Bahr El-Ghazal State for having scored this result and I would like to say they are not less nationalistic than the other states. What they have done is a great work, and I am one of the people who voted for secession and what I am left with is only to wait for the result which will be announced officially in February”
Those were views of some residents of Wau town.
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Thursday, 20 January 2011 (Wau) – The Governor of Lakes State has condemned the police in Rumbek for lashing girls allegedly dressed indecently in Rumbek town.
Governor Chol Tong Mayay said the act was done out of ignorance by untrained policeman in the state.
He spoke to SRS on Thursday in Rumbek.
[Chol Tong Mayay]: “I have to say it was total ignorance that the untrained police which we used by then to help us in maintaining security during the referendum polling as you may have observed were not carrying arms. They were just carrying sticks. It was part of training that they have to be exposed on how to be policemen. However they went ahead and took the law into their own hand and started beating up the girls”
Governor Chol said that the policemen who were involved in the act have been arrested and the matter is being looked into.
[Chol Tong Mayay]: “We have to say we regret as the government. There is no government body which has ever issued such kind of directives. So we have condemned it and measures have already been taken. Those who have committed this unlawful incident are now in jail and all measures are being taken against them. From that day they were immediately flashed out from the market and taken back to the training centers. So now they are being trained.”
The governor added that there has been no order to slash girls on what is termed as indecent dressing in the state.
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Postscript from Sudan Watch Editor
Shortly after publishing the previous post here at Sudan Watch on January 6th my computer was hacked to such an extent that it crashed and died. On January 10th I purchased a new £2.5K system, hence the reason for not being able to blog until now. Also, I was unable to receive a satellite signal or use digital radio to tune into BBC World Service. Until the other computer is repaired, I have no access to six years of data and email addresses. I have spent the past week reconstructing 1000+ news feeds and bookmarks from memory. If you are a friend of Sudan Watch and wish to keep in contact or I owe you an email please send me your email address asap. Thanks.