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November 2010 - Posts

Carter Center Statement on Sudan Referendum: Strong Start to Registration But Urgent Action Needed to Ensure Broad Participation

Carter Center Statement on Sudan Referendum: Strong Start to Registration But Urgent Action Needed to Ensure Broad Participation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 24, 2010

CONTACTS:

In Khartoum: Sanne van den Bergh +249 911 714 041 In Juba: Maggie Ray +249 955 314 925 In Atlanta: Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124

Summary

The Carter Center welcomes the successful opening of voter registration for the Southern Sudan Referendum on self?determination and congratulates the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) on their preparations for the first days of registration, particularly in Southern Sudan where the process is challenged by difficult logistics. The Carter Center urges the SSRC to deliver additional materials to the referendum centers, where high demand is rapidly depleting supplies. In addition, the SSRC should urgently release regulations concerning the media and campaigning, the exhibition and objections period, and polling and tabulation of results.

Although the registration appears to be running smoothly in nearly all locations a few key components of the process require urgent adjustment. The SSRC should take action to ensure that eligible individuals are able to participate in the voter registration within the time remaining and that the registration adheres to the procedures outlined in the Southern Sudan Referendum Act and Voter Registration Rules and Regulations. Despite some shortcomings, the Center believes all issues can be addressed within the current registration timeline if the relevant parties, the SSRC, SSRB, National Congress Party (NCP), and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) take immediate steps to address them.

The Carter Center has deployed 46 observers across 22 states of Sudan. To date these teams have made more than 600 visits to centers throughout Sudan. Additionally, 26 Carter Center observers are deployed in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, United Kingdom, and United States and have made more than 175 visits to centers including those in camps and settlement areas, such as Masindi, Hoima, and Arua in Uganda, and Eldoret and Lokichoggio in Kenya. In general, registration center staff have welcomed our observer teams, as have officials of the International Organization for Migration, who are assisting the SSRC in the out?of?country voting (OCV) registration locations.

The SSRC provided timely accreditation to Carter Center observers in Sudan and in the outof?country locations. However, the SSRC was slow to accredit domestic observers, which resulted in Sudanese observers without accreditation being turned away from entering some referendum centers in both Northern and Southern Sudan. This statement is an interim assessment of the first week of voter registration, and is presented in a spirit of cooperation. The Center intends to issue additional statement(s) as appropriate at subsequent stages. Registration Materials Carter Center observers have noted that some registration materials have either not arrived to all registration centers or are currently running low due to the high volume of participation, particularly in urban areas of Southern Sudan. In at least four states in Southern Sudan (Upper Nile, Central Equatoria, Northern Bahr al Ghazal, and Western Bahr al Ghazal) and one in Northern Sudan (White Nile), some registration centers did not receive registration journals. The journals are used to record information about the registration process in each center, including the names of identifiers and people denied participation on the basis of ineligibility. While their absence does not hinder registration from moving forward, the journals are supposed to contribute to the accountability and transparency of the process. Some registration centers in the Raja area of Western Bahr el Ghazal have taken the initiative to create their own journals using a photocopy of the standard journal. Referendum administration bodies should work to ensure centers have some form of journal available to them.

In some referendum centers in Southern states, including Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Jonglei, staff have reported they are running out of the 2000 registration cards allocated to each center due to a high volume of registrants. Carter Center observers have observed that registration has stopped in some registration centers while the staff awaits additional registration books. Registration centers also have reported insufficient supplies of indelible ink. The Carter Center urges the SSRB and State High Committees to make additional materials available in a timely manner and ensure rapid distribution within states so the deficiency of registration books and indelible ink does not prevent eligible Sudanese from participating in the process. The SSRC should take additional efforts to inform registration officials as to the correct application of the ink to ensure its indelible character.

Identity

Given that many people in Sudan lack identity documents, the presence of identifiers in each registration center to provide oral testimony affirming a potential registrant’s identity is critical. Carter Center observers in at least five states in both Northern and Southern Sudan (including Khartoum, Lakes, Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity) have noted that such identifiers are not present in some locations. Registration center chairs should urgently appoint identifiers to be in each location during the remainder of registration to ensure eligible individuals without identity documents are given the opportunity to register.

Distribution of Referendum Centers

In several parts of the country, participants in the registration process complained to Carter Center observers that distribution and placement of referendum centers hinders the full participation of eligible voters. These complaints are most common in and around Khartoum and in rural areas, particularly in Southern Kordofan, Western Bahr al Ghazal, and Jonglei states. In Khartoum, the referendum administration has made efforts to rectify this problem by relocating centers. In the event of any changes to the locations of registration centers, it is important that adequate notification is provided to registrants in advance of polling as to where they should return to vote. The creation of additional registration centers to narrow the distances from the potential voters could create confusion at this late stage and may prove to be counter?productive. Instead, the SSRC and SSRB should coordinate with partners and take immediate steps to intensify voter information and media campaigns to better publicize the specific locations of referendum centers. While these efforts will not eliminate the difficulties faced by voters who have to travel long distances to register and cast their ballots, it will mitigate some of the shortcomings in the distribution of registration centers and the lack of voter information regarding their locations.

Appeals and Exhibition

Carter Center observers have noted a widespread lack of understanding on the part of registration officials and potential registrants regarding the appeal procedures if registration center staff deems a person ineligible to register to vote in the referendum.

Large numbers of centers have not established Considerations Committees, which are formal bodies intended to adjudicate formal complaints from denied registrants regarding their eligibility. The Committees are present in very few of the registration centers visited by Carter Center observers. The Center’s observers have witnessed some instances of people being denied registration simply walking out of the center without being told of their rights to appeal or being issued a formal rejection form. The Carter Center urges the SSRC and SSRB to communicate urgently to registration center staff the necessity of forming the Considerations Committees, informing denied registrants of their rights to appeal and issuing rejection receipts.

Additionally, many of the registration centers visited by Carter Center observers do not have public notices posted to inform registrants of the dates of the exhibition period. The SSRC and SSRB should communicate to registration center staff the importance of this notice and request its immediate posting in each center. Further, referendum authorities should emphasize to the registrars the importance of informing registrants about the exhibition period so that they return to verify their names on the preliminary voter registry.

NCP/SPLM Accusations of Intimidation and Manipulation of Registration in Northern Sudan In the last few days, the NCP and SPLM have traded accusations of intimidation and manipulation of the registration process in Northern Sudan. These accusations and accompanying abusive language are creating a climate of fear and distrust. This latest round of mutual allegations comes in the wake of an exchange over the citizenship status of Southerners in Northern Sudan should Southern Sudan secede, an issue which remains a cause of anxiety among Southerners.

While allegations of manipulation deserve to be thoroughly investigated, some of the members of the NCP and SPLM appear more interested in scoring political points than in the integrity of the registration process. The Carter Center urges members of the NCP and the SPLM to raise any well?founded concerns directly with the SSRC in the spirit of cooperation and constructive dialogue. Both parties should refrain from using inflammatory political rhetoric that could cause an increase in tension. Systematic efforts by political parties or other organizations to force individuals to register or prevent them from registering would violate the basic principles of a free and credible referendum.

Out-of-Country Voting and Registration

The voter registration process has started in all but one out of the eight overseas countries where out?of?country voting is being conducted. The Carter Center notes with concern the delayed opening of referendum centers in Egypt and urges authorities of Egypt and Sudan to ensure that the process moves forward expeditiously. In Uganda, Carter Center observers have received reports that death threats leveled against referendum center staff led to the staff refusing to report to work. The SSRC and IOM should request that local authorities investigate these threats and prevent further disruption and intimidation.

A number of issues related to the out?of?country registration process remain unclear, including the possible extension of voter registration in locations with a delayed start such as in Egypt, the United States, Canada, and Australia, and the potential opening and dates of operation of additional registration sites in the United States and Australia. The Carter remedy shall have the right thereto determined by competent judicial, administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy. By the same Article the government of Sudan also undertakes to “ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.” Center encourages referendum authorities to make quick decisions on these matters and publicize these decisions to concerned populations.

The Carter Center also notes the need for clarification on the procedures for rejections and objections in out?of?country. The relative importance of the Considerations Committees in the out?of?country locations necessarily increases because foreign courts have no jurisdiction over a Sudanese national process. After an unfavorable decision by the Considerations Committee, a rejected out?of?country applicant has no body to which to appeal. While welcoming the fact that, in general, Considerations Committees in out?ofcountry voting countries have been formed, The Carter Center urges referendum authorities to provide these bodies with clear information about their procedures.

Background on the Carter Center’s mission

The Carter Center began referendum observation activities in Sudan in August 2010 in response to an invitation from the SSRC. As during its April 2010 elections observation mission, the Center will assess the referendum processes in Sudan based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim National Constitution, Southern Sudan Referendum Act, and Sudan’s obligations for democratic elections contained in regional and international agreements, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.8 In total, Carter Center core staff, long-term, medium term, and out-of-country observers form a diverse group from 28 countries.

####

The objectives of the Carter Center’s observation mission in Sudan are to provide an impartial assessment of the overall quality of the referendum process, promote an inclusive process for all Southern Sudanese, and demonstrate international interest in Sudan’s referendum process. The Carter Center conducts observation activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles of International Election Observation and Code of Conduct that was adopted at the United Nations in 2005 and endorsed by 35 election observation groups. The Center will release periodic public statements on referendum findings, available on its website: www.cartercenter.org.

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Abyei and the Perils of Accommodation

By Eric Reeves

November 26, 2010 — The carefully planned military coup that brought the National Islamic Front to power in June of 1989 was timed to forestall the most promising chance for a north/south peace agreement since Sudan’s independence in 1956. The two major northern sectarian parties—the Umma Party and Democratic Unionist Party—were on the verge of agreeing to terms with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, an agreement that would have ended the terrible bloodshed that had begun with the resumption of civil war in 1983. Then-president Sadiq al-Mahdi was prepared to accept the arduously negotiated terms of a settlement.

It would take a very long time for international actors in the West and elsewhere to recognize that the National Islamic Front (now expediently and innocuously renamed the National Congress Party) was very different from the northern Arab regimes that had preceded—none of them benign, including Sadiq’s, in their treatment of southerners. In particular, the world failed to see just how dangerous were the consequences of the regime’s radical agenda for Islamizing and Arabizing all of Sudan. Even the jihad declared against the African peoples of the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan (1992), with explicit genocidal ambitions, prompted no broad understanding of what the regime was capable of, or how it regarded the international community. After seeing the world’s obtuse response to its barbarous, seven-year embargo on all humanitarian aid to the Nuba, as well as its attendant military destruction and displacement of Nuban civilians, the regime was emboldened. In 1998 the regime intensified its scorched-earth campaign against civilians in the oil regions that straddle the north/south border. Hundreds of thousands of Nuer, Dinka, Shilluk, and members of other African tribal groups were killed or displaced from their lands over the next five years. Khartoum’s ambition was to create a vast military cordon sanitaire around the oil fields and infrastructure, and it largely succeeded.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that finally ended the civil war was signed in January 2005; but it is important to recall that all its substantive protocols had been agreed to by Khartoum and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement as of May 2004. Khartoum delayed the formal signing for eight months in a futile but immensely destructive effort to complete its genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur. The countries involved in negotiating the peace agreement—including the United States, Britain, Norway and various nations of an East African consortium known as IGAD, led by Kenya—were so eager to complete the agreement that Darfur was largely ignored during a period of extreme violence and large-scale ethnically-targeted civilian destruction. The human catastrophe in Darfur was at its worst during these crucial months.

The point of this thumbnail sketch of Sudanese history over the past twenty-one years is to highlight the extraordinary survival skills that have been honed by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime. Despite a domestic security policy of serial genocide and ongoing crimes against humanity, the regime has never felt seriously threatened by domestic political opposition or international actions. This is because these brutal men are intelligent, canny, and in a number of cases highly educated; they are also utterly ruthless and have been insidiously effective in securing control of the Sudanese economy—the banking system, the agricultural sector, oil revenues—and of course the army and security services.

Although led by Field Marshal Omar Hassan al-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan, he rules only as the most powerful man within a substantial security cabal. Portfolios regularly change hands; there are political ups and downs (and even expulsions, as was the case with chief Islamic ideologue Hassan al-Turabi); different internal calculations are made about the diplomatic actions necessary to preserve the regime’s monopoly on national power and wealth. But the cast is largely unchanged since 1989. Those figures who exert most power today are all veterans of the coup or early followers of the Islamist regime. Nafi’e Ali Nafi’e, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Salah Abdullah Gosh, Mustafa Osman Ismail, Gutbi el-Mahdi, Ghazi Salah el-Din el-Atabani, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, General Bakri Hassan Saleh. Many of these names appear on a confidential 2006 Annex prepared by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, implicating them in atrocity crimes during the counter-insurgency effort in the region. Other names should have appeared, certainly if we take the research of Human Rights Watch seriously.

HOW, THEN to speak to such a regime? What are the terms of appropriate engagement? Humanitarians, diplomats, international political powers—including the UN—have offered different answers. But in the run-up to the deeply imperiled January self-determination referenda for southern Sudan and the border region of Abyei, it is clear that disingenuousness, silence, and equivocation are the preferred terms of engagement. Reaching conclusions that are belied by everything we have seen for the past twenty-one years, various interlocutors engaging with the regime have displayed a willingness to accommodate the most savage tyranny and abuse in an effort to secure “agreement” on what is perceived as the most exigent crisis of the moment.

This engagement is with men who have never abided by any agreement with another Sudanese party—not one, not ever. Far from responding to international accommodation in a positive fashion, the regime sees such accommodation as a sign of weakness and the occasion for demanding yet more. This response has been replicated over and over again, in all spheres of engagement. But nowhere is such accommodation more dangerous than in the present crisis in Abyei. By failing to hold Khartoum to its clear obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, by allowing the regime to play games with the Abyei ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and by letting the regime dictate the terms of negotiations, the Obama administration—which in the diplomatic division of labor has taken the lead on Abyei—has allowed the issue to bring Sudan to the brink of unfathomably destructive renewed civil war.

ABYEI

It has become clear to all that the Abyei self-determination referendum is so belated that only a political agreement between Khartoum and the Government of South Sudan can diffuse the growing crisis in the region; such a crisis left unresolved will likely lead to war. Khartoum has refused to allow the Abyei Referendum Commission to be established, which in turn prevents any forward movement on the issues of residency, voter registration, border demarcation (as opposed to delineation), wealth sharing, citizenship, and security.

With less than seven weeks until the January 9, 2011 date for both referenda, the Obama administration has finally begun to register appropriate concern about Abyei, indeed one might say a highly belated alarm. But the form of that alarm is dismayingly counterproductive, particularly in its insistence that the south must pay the price for Khartoum’s intransigence. U.S. special envoy for Sudan, retired Air Force General Scott Gation, declared in October—just days before an aborted meeting in Addis Ababa scheduled to discuss Abyei—that

“There’s no more time to waste… The parties must be prepared to come to Addis with an attitude of compromise. The entire world is watching and will make judgments based on how the parties approach these talks, on how they act in the next couple of months.”

And then, very recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that “Most urgently, the parties [Khartoum and the southern leadership] must make the tough compromises necessary to settle the status of Abyei.”

“Compromises”? The compromises were already embodied in the Abyei Protocol of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which guaranteed both that Abyei would have a self-determination referendum on January 9, 2011, and that the delineation of Abyei itself would be undertaken by an international panel of experts, the Abyei Boundary Commission. In a scrupulously well-researched report, the Commission carefully delineated Abyei on the basis of all extant historical records and maps, forwarding their findings to President al-Bashir in July 2005. But al-Bashir and his regime were unhappy with the outcome, and so refused to accept these findings—and refused also to allow for the formation of an Abyei administrative body or preparation for the referendum.

The southern leadership protested against this flagrant violation of the CPA, but with little international support and to no avail. Foreseeing the consequences of continued stalemate, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed to allow a final decision on the findings of the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) to be made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. A decision was rendered by the Court in July 2009, finding that the ABC had exceeded its mandate; the Court then redrew the boundaries of Abyei in a way highly favorable to Khartoum, including moving to northern Sudan areas in the east and north within Abyei that have very significant oil reserves. The historical reasoning and expertise of the Court were not nearly as compelling as that of the ABC, but despite this the SPLM accepted the decision as the only way to move forward on the Abyei referendum.

A year later, in the July 2010, a senior Khartoum official, former director of national security Salah Abdullah Gosh, suggested that the Abyei issue had still not been settled: “The [PCA ruling] ruling did not resolve the dispute.” Although he would later retract this assertion, he had tipped Khartoum’s hand: over the past four months the regime has reneged on terms of both the Abyei Protocol and the PCA ruling. The regime is now obstructing the referendum primarily by insisting that migratory Misseriya Arabs from northern Sudan are “residents” of Abyei who must be allowed to vote in the referendum. It has moved some 70,000 to 80,000 Misseriya into the region, people who have traditionally migrated to Abyei for only several months of the year. But now Khartoum insists that they are “residents” and that they be registered to vote in the referendum. Since the Abyei referendum is to determine whether the region joins with the north or the south, these northern Arab votes may well tip the balance. For without them—if only the traditional residents of the region, the Ngok Dinka, were to vote—the results would be overwhelmingly for union with the south.

There is, in fact, no mention of Misseriya Arabs as residents of Abyei in the Abyei Protocol of the CPA, nor was it the focus of side discussions during negotiations. The language of the CPA is spare and clear: “The residents of the Abyei Area shall be: The Members of Ngok Dinka community and other Sudanese residing in the area.” Nor was there any discussion of the Misseriya by Khartoum in the months leading up to the PCA decision of July 2009. Only now—having run out of other stratagems—has Khartoum decided to make Misseriya “residency” an issue.

And still the Obama administration—trapped by its own belatedness and incompetence—urges the SPLM to “compromise” yet further. But even in the face of such transparently obstructionist behavior by Khartoum, the southern leadership has in fact continued to “compromise.” I am told by an extremely reliable source in the region that:

“…the SPLM has bent over backwards to compromise. They’ve offered that anybody who can trace residency [in Abyei] to pre-1905 can vote; rejected by the NCP. Then anyone tracing residency to 1956; rejected. Then anyone who was resident in 2005; rejected. Then residency at the time of the PCA ruling; rejected. Finally, anyone resident just one year ago when the Abyei Referendum Act was passed; rejected. The NCP are insisting that the 70-80,000 Missiriya who moved in just recently must vote.” (email received November 20, 2010)

Why does Khartoum feel emboldened to reject all offers of compromise? For the same reason it has prevented formation of the Abyei Referendum Commission; for the same reason that it feels it can block a proposed buffer zone between northern and southern military forces, including those near Abyei; for the same reason that it obstructs movement of the UN peacekeeping mission north of Abyei town; for the same reasons that Khartoum’s infamous 31st Brigade was able to burn Abyei town to the ground in May 2008, killing dozens and displacing as many as 90,000 people—all while the UN watched helplessly from a distance; for the same reason that Khartoum’s military forces and proxies are beating, arresting, and “taxing” southerners attempting to return to their home in Abyei; for the same reason that the regime allows a senior member to declare very recently that Abyei has always been historically part of the north:

“Professor Ibrahim Ghandour, secretary for political affairs of the National Congress Party, said his party has documentary evidence that proves that the oil-rich but disputed Abyei region is part of the north.”

Why does Khartoum feel that it can continue to negotiate the boundaries of Abyei in such preposterous fashion (we have heretofore unconsidered documentary evidence!), despite the findings of both the Abyei Boundary Commission and the Permanent Court of Arbitration? Because the international community has repeatedly proved itself willing to deal expediently and disingenuously with a regime that has an unbroken diplomatic record of deceit, arrogance, and reneging. It still enjoys enormous success making the same threat it has long made: Push us too hard on this or that issue, and we will collapse the entire CPA.

This was disgracefully true for Darfur in 2004. It remains just as disgracefully true in Darfur six years later, as UN humanitarian leaders remain silent about conditions in Darfur, acquiesce in the suppression of critical malnutrition data, and allow press releases to be vetted by Khartoum. The UN peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) is continually denied access to sites where Khartoum has bombed civilian targets (even as all military flights are banned by UN Security Council Resolution 1591), and faces relentless harassment and obstruction by various elements of the regime. Khartoum’s warplanes, including those designed for air-to-ground attacks, sit openly on tarmacs, even during a recent UN Security Council mission to the region. Arms and ammunition, especially from China, continue to pour into Darfur—also in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591—as reported yet again by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur. Indeed, Khartoum is not in compliance with a single UN Security Council resolution, and there have been dozens. Nor has it made good on any of its promises in the failed Darfur Peace Agreement (May 2006).

And the Obama administration response to all this? It has recently “decoupled” Darfur from the criteria that will be used to determine whether Khartoum will be removed from the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-sponsoring nations. What is arguably the biggest prize the United States has to offer the regime will no longer be used as leverage to end the holocaust in Darfur, but exclusively to secure compliance with the already negotiated terms of the CPA. This occurs at a time when the regime has begun a massive new military campaign in Darfur—Operation "Misk al-Khitam," or “the perfect ending.” And we may be sure that the implications of a U.S. “decoupling” of Darfur are not lost on a regime that is always assessing its diplomatic adversaries—their strengths, weaknesses, and degree of commitment.

This “decoupling” decision is the price of belatedness and the very essence of expediency—and it will serve to extend the life of the Khartoum regime. Whether it will produce a successful referendum for southern Sudan is an open question: Khartoum’s survivalists are busy now assessing the consequences of aborting or refusing to recognize the vote, militarily preempting the results, as well as considering just how to use Abyei as a means of extracting yet more concessions from the SPLM leadership and Washington. The United States and the rest of the international community—by signaling just how accommodating they can be—have encouraged the most ruthless calculations by Khartoum, and these external actors are now hostage to their own expediency. The clouds darkening over Sudan will not lift soon.

Eric Reeves is author of A Long Days’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide

Has President Al- Basher Gone Insane?!

By Luk Kuth Dak

November 24, 2010 — In the United States of America, the President’s state of health, his personal income tax and travel expenditure, all are a matter of public interest and a right to know.

Ultimately, the public has the rights to know that the President really is in a good shape both mentally and physically when he/ she makes those tough decisions that in one way or another impact the lives of not only the American people, but the world at large. Not only that, the public also seems entitled to know what’s on the President’s dinner table!

Only two years in office, President Barrack Obama, has already gone through a couple of physical examinations, and the results were made public. “ The President is in a good health,” said his medical team, at a press conference.

Unfortunately, in the Sudan, no human being who knows the state of mind of President Omer Hassan Ahmed Al Basher, how much he makes and the taxes he pays, if any. Certainly, no one knows just how he’s able to support a family of three obviously well-fed wives, or how his siblings became an economic powerhouse?

Of course, in a country like the Sudan, anyone who asks those legitimate questions will literally be crossing the so-called “ Red lines” as Vet. Doctor Nafia Ali Nafia has notoriously been known as saying.

Much to the contrary, President al Basher is showing signs that he might not be in a mental capacity to run the affairs of the largest and most problematic country in Africa. Recently, he’s been downright giddy, and in most cases finds himself in an enormous difficulty in choosing the right words to describe his anger about the right of the people of South Sudan for self- determination, which he -himself – has signed into law nearly four and a half years ago. “ We will never accept an alternative for unity,” he said to crowd of lunatics launching a unity campaigning at the 25 Th hour, as Ustaz Pagan Amum once said.

With that said, only a couple of days from that statement, President Al Basher was quoted, this time by a friendly newspaper, as saying: “ We will respect whatever the Southern people decide.” Really! Now the fair question: How can we believe such an unpredictable leader, who says one thing and does the exact opposite in just a matter of hours, not days?

You be the judge!

Now, most South Sudanese that I spoke with during the course of preparing this article, all are asking the question: What part of being “ Sick and tied” that our brothers in the North do not seem to understand? And how in- essence- do they think that those of us who have gone through all kinds of torment, oppression, enslavement, torture, rape and murder, for a half a century long and counting, would simply and voluntarily walk away from a lifetime opportunity of becoming a free people?

No, we don’t think so, Mr. President!

In human history, there comes a time when enough really is enough, and in this case, the people of South Sudan have had had it to the maximum, and they are now well into the road of independence. No one will turn them around. And if the NCP extremists don’t believe me, then all they really have to do is to send their pit bulls for a visit to the ten Southern states, and I can guarantee you, they will be blinded with the slogans such as “ Unity by force is slavery.”

Still, however, even though both the NCP and NIF are in such a disarray politically, mentally, morally and organizationally, you cannot count them our or take for granted their ability and agility to create drama, havoc and chaos to discredit the referendum process. The fair question is: Why isn’t the SPLM fighting back? If the SPLM thinks that the NCP is going to go away without a fight, they better think again. After all, those people are about to lose their lifeline in a matter of 46 days, today. More so, they are about to loss the cheap laborers from South Sudan, mostly Nuer, who now will be heading South to build their own nation.

However, it’s so true as well that the NCP’s unleashed pit bulls do mean business, and if you don’t believe me, chances are you haven’t been following the Northern media of late. Otherwise, you should have known- no doubt- what their hardliners, such as: Vet. Doctor Nafia Ali Nafia, Muhammad Mandour Al Mahedi, Dr. Kamal Obied, Ustaz Haj Magiid Siwaar, former President Abdulrahman Muhammad Hussan Siwaar Al Zaheb and Abdulrahim Muhammad Hussien, the defense chief, just to name a few, have been disgorging on air and print.

So in truth, whether we- Southerners- like it or not, their message is the same and abundantly clear: The referendum outcome will not be accepted, no matter what.

So far, it isn’t all clear what the international community will do in order to insure that the referendum results will be biding, but the SPLM must do its part in truly making certain that the referendum process is as flawless and transparent as possible, because it will deny the NCP’s haters –in their wildest dream- the chance of even thinking about “ Not accepting” the referendum results.

Yet in the accelerating of our demands for freedom, we ought to do so with dignity and integrity. There should be no room for hatred and intolerance against Northern Sudanese who reside among us, because some of them have not only supported us morally, but physically during the war and beyond.

The author is a Sudanese journalist writer and a former anchorman at Juba Radio. He can be reach @lukedak@hotmail.com.

Why confederation in Post-Referendum Sudan is key to prosperous, stable, and good neighbourliness

Why Confederation in Post Referendum Sudan is Key to Prosperous, Stable, and Good Neighbourliness between the North and South if South Chooses Independence?

By John Apuruot Akec

Two roads diverged in a wood, I took the one less travelled by, And that made all the difference - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. 1920.

November 17, 2010 — Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement, often abbreviated as the CPA, was signed between the government of the Republic of the Sudan (GOS) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Army (SPLM/A) in Kenyan town of Naivasha on 9th January 2005. The CPA was a materialisation of three years of sustained negotiations under the auspices of Inter-Governmental Draught Authority (IGAD), supported by the African Union, the Arab League, the EU, the UN; and the governments of Italy, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, and United States. The signing of the CPA brought to an end Africa’s longest civil conflict in living memory that erupted in 1955, stopped for 13 years before resuming in 1983 and continued for 22 years until the CPA was signed in January 2005. The CPA is comprised of six protocols and three annexes and was recognised by the United Nation’s Security Council Resolution 1574. A central provision of the CPA is that the people of Southern Sudan have a right to self-determination which they will exercise by voting in a referendum scheduled for January 9th 2011, that is six (6) years after signing of peace agreement to decide whether to confirm the current status of united Sudan or secede to form their own independent state. The Machokos Protocols also obliged the two parties to the agreement to strive to improve institutional arrangements in order to make unity option attractive to people of Southern Sudan Furthermore, the parties to the CPA (the National Congress Party (NCP), and SPLM) are required by Referendum Act 2009 to agree on post-referendum issues such as citizenship (status of Northerners in the South and Southerners in the North), security, currency, distribution of oil revenues, national assets and foreign debts, and sharing of Nile water.

While there is concern that the referendum planned for 9th January 2011 is behind schedule because of deadlock over boundary demarcation, and continuing disagreement over voting eligibility of Messiryia in Abyei’s referendum; there is also a serious concern that no tangible agreement or coherent vision has yet been reached by the CPA partners on the nature of relationships between the North and the South in case of secession vote. This lack of vision regarding the form of future relationships between two parts of Sudan in post-2011 period, does cast enormous shadows of uncertainty over the future of both the North and the South, and makes it hard to plan for 2011 and beyond, especially amongst the government bureaucrats who are required to make vital decisions now and whose impacts go beyond January 2011. That is why we have commonly heard statements such as: "We do not know what will happen in January 2011"

It is quite certain that those making these statements know that referendum outcome will impact their plans and ongoing activities in many unpredictable ways, yet are almost helpless to craft an effective response to it. This is as if the world knew about Year 2000 problem, a built-in computer design constraint also called millennium bug that was predicted to cause date keeping system to malfunction when year 2000 arrives; thus, raising the risk of data loss; yet were unable to stop it or put in place measures to thwart its adverse impacts on business data and operation of vital and strategic utilities that are computer controlled. The truth is: the world knew its implications and acted by deploying large amount of resources and expert skills to fix the problem, and when the day and the hour arrived (midnight of December 31, 1999), everything was under control and no major catastrophes or financial losses were reported. The contrast could never be starker in case of Sudan in regards to post referendum arrangements.

The continuing uncertainty over the future relationship between the North and the South does not only make it hard to plan, but also makes it difficult for parties involved in negotiating post-referendum arrangements to make compromise on issues such as citizenship, residence and so on; as each party exercises ’maximum precaution’ rule to guard its stakes. The two parties have been talking of good neighbourliness and peaceful secessions but no one knows what shape this good neighbourliness looks like, or how smooth secession can be achieved. In fact, the lack of agreement on post-referendum arrangements, of which the North-South relationship is an important part, aggravated by inflammatory statements of Sudanese politicians across the divide, has caused mass exodus of South Sudanese from the North.

While Naivasha agreement has brought relative peace to the country after nearly quarter of century of strife and bloodshed, there is increasing realisation amongst significant Sudan watchers that the unity versus secession black or white dichotomy may not be the ideal solution for bringing about a lasting and sustainable political accommodation in Sudan.

Most recently, there has been increasing interest in confederation as one of potential options for closing the gap in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement without sacrificing the right of people of South Sudan to determine their own political future.

John Garang de Mabior, the SPLM chairman, proposed a system of confederation for Sudan during peace negotiations in Kenya between 2002 and 2005 but was turned down by National Congress Party (NCP). The deputy SPLM chairman and current governor of Blue Nile State, Malik Agar Eyre floated the idea in Naivasha peace celebration on 9th January 2008 for the whole country. This time around the NCP expressed readiness to discuss it with SPLM. A number of articles followed in sparse succession. For example, confederation was impressed upon the CPA partners in May 2009 in an informative article by Adullahi Osman El Tom of Justice and Equality Movement as one of potential options for post-referendum governance of Sudan in case South Sudanese vote for independence. In January 2010, Hamid Ali El Tigani wrote in Sudan Tribune about confederal system for Sudan.

Overall, these early calls to debate confederation seemed to have fallen on deaf ears and did not take the headline or get the attention the subject deserves. At that time, 2011 seems to be far off, and any talk of confederation was seen as an attempt to subvert the exercise of right to self-determination by South Sudan. However, this author noted that the interest in confederation was rekindled once again after publishing an article on the subject in June 2010. Ever since, there has been a growing interest in confederation as a ’third way’ between total unity and complete independence of the South. At the same time, many voices expressed reservation,24 even outright rejection of confederation as a substitute for complete independence of South Sudan25,26,27. This reflects the old adage: information too early is not recognized, and information too late is useless. Now is the right time to fully explore the potential of adopting confederation and encouraging the partners to the CPA to give it more serious attention than it is currently receiving.

The paper will examine why this is an invaluable strategy for both the North and the South to adopt in short term as a mechanism for achieving a smooth transition of the South to independence in case of secession, and in long term as a means for propelling the two parts of Sudan back into a path of voluntary unity or economic integration. It will also attempt to answer such questions as: What chance there is that such an idea will find acceptance from South Sudanese? Who will be against it? Who is for it? What is there in it for each stakeholder (SPLM, NCP, Northern and Southern parties)? And what are the parties to the agreement doing about this option at the moment, if any? And finally to look into what structure the North-South confederation might take as well as possible powers can be assigned to confederate authority. However, the paper will not necessarily follow the same order.

THE JUSTIFICATION FOR ADOPTING CONFEDERATION

In a symposium organized by Future Trends Foundation and UNIMISS in Khartoum on unity and self-determination in November 2009, Francis Mading Deng argued in a joint paper with Abdelwahab El-Affendi:

"Unity should not be seen as an end in itself or as the only option in the pursuit of human fulfillment and dignity. A vote for Southern independence, therefore, confronts the nation with challenges that must be addressed constructively in the interest of both North and South. This should mean making the process of partition as harmonious as possible and laying the foundation for peaceful and cooperative coexistence and continued interaction. Practical measures should be taken to ensure continued sharing of such vital resources as oil and water, encouraging cross border trade, protecting freedom of movement, residence and employment across the borders, and leaving the door open for periodically revisiting the prospects of reunification."

This statement underlines the need to come up with concrete measures to address the challenges enlisted above. Here Deng attempts to persuade the unionists in Sudan to let the South decide freely, and that they should never have to loose hope in unity even if the referendum outcome is secession. Vital interests of the South will dictate her to seek cooperation of the North. He correctly puts his finger on the pulse, and leaves us with the challenge of prescribing practical measures that we need to take in order to achieve the above goals.

Independently reflecting on the necessity of letting the South go as the necessary condition for paving a way for voluntary unity in the future, this author wrote in November 2009:

"The way forward would be to honour the CPA referendum protocol in its entirety, despite the predictable outcome. Namely, more than 90 percent of South Sudanese will vote in favour of self determination. Yet paradoxically still, only after the South peacefully secedes will we have the hope to renegotiate a Sudanese union on new basis. We must let the sheep out of the fence, then persuade them later to re-enter the stable after having tasted the freedom of wandering the pastures alone with no one but good own self to guide through the treacherous valleys, tr[ied] the beauties as well as the pains of self-reliance, miss[ed] the advantages of a shared-house where all have something different and unique to offer…In other words, Southern session is a necessary prelude to voluntary reunion."

This author perhaps was then led subconsciously or (was it an Eureka moment?) to end at confederation gate when he argued:

"Once South is secure in self-determination, which in many ways will satisfy a deep-rooted psychological longing and restore a sense of dignity long lost, it will be possible for all to revisit the possibility of entering into economic union similar to EEC’s with the North or reach confederal arrangements with the rest of the country with a view to eventually reintegrating back in a phased out fashion."

This might be too an optimistic a scenario and overstatement by this author, because it is possible for the two parts of Sudan to still drift apart even after a secession vote should relationships continue to be tense and hostile as they currently are, or the way they had been in the last five years. Yet, this fear of unknown should not scare the Sudanese from taking the bold step towards confederation after Southern secession vote because we have previously tried many things and nothing seemed to work.

And in that spirit, and after serious self-reflection the author wrote an article in June 2010 inviting the Sudanese to debate adopting confederation as a means of regulating South-North relation after referendum should South secede as it is likely it will:

"And in humble contribution to shaping of this vision [about possible relationships between North and South], the writer of this article would like to invite all the Sudanese to air their views on feasibility of adopting confederation to manage the North-South relationship when South votes for independence."

The article went further to propose the possible structure the confederation might take:

""According to this vision, both South and North will be free to organise their foreign policy, security, and economic planning as would happen for all sovereign states. The current council of states and national legislative assemblies will have their life extended (funded by Confederation to 4 years) and functions of certain national commissions will be modified to support confederal government. There will be a Northern Chamber, where Khartoum government can discuss issues concerning the North. The merits of a monetary union should be carefully studied and given a serious consideration in this debate. The management and sharing of common assets and regulating trade should be managed by the confederation whose presidency rotates every 6 months between the South and North. Citizens from both Northern and Southern states will be free to move freely and enjoy the full rights of the citizenship (education, medical treatment, right to buy and sell property) in two Sudans. Both Sudans should device tariffs that will not put any side at disadvantage and maximise the accrued benefits for all. Fighting crime and managing security across the borders is carried by confederal government in collaboration with the two sovereign states. This confederal arrangement will constantly be improved and renewed every 4 years (equivalent to life of legislative assemblies) and the renewal should be voluntary (each side can opt out at the end of 4 years should it feel there are good reasons to quit)."

A natural question that impresses itself upon this debate is: what is unique about confederation to make it an effective tool for political accommodation34 in Sudan in the event of South Sudan vote for independence to the exclusion of everything else?

A well presented and most comprehensive technical report published so far on the subject of potential options for political accommodation between the Northern and the Southern states in the event of secession vote has been authored by Gerard Mc Hugh of Conflict Dynamics International. The report enlists four (4) possible options organised in order of increasing political interactivity between Northern and Southern sovereignties with distinctly recognisable international identities. These are described in the proceeding paragraphs.

The first option is described as Mutual Isolation. As its name suggests, this option entails a very limited scope of political interaction. This is a default option if no effort is made to agree on common institutions to deal with issues of common interests. It is recipe for disaster and is ill suited for case of Sudan where there are issues that need to be jointly addressed through much tighter interaction than can be garnered from this option. The second option is Reciprocity between Independent States. It allows the two independent states to either interact on issues of common interest on ad hoc manner as they arise or set up single institutions within each state through which the interaction on economic and political matters can be channeled. Considering the high stakes between the North and the South, one is bound to bypass this option in favour of searching for better institutional arrangements that are commensurate with the stakes involved. And moving up higher, there is third option modelled as Economic Community of Independent States. The main objective of such interaction is economic and to a lesser extent political. The scope of economic parameters is agreed between two sovereign states with provisions of summit meetings of heads of the states and councils of ministers. Legislative bodies in the two states also interact and there is legislature to regulate the interaction that is embodied in their respective constitutions. In this author’s view, this is the minimum required of political accommodation in the North-South relations if South secedes. And finally, we have Structured Union of Independent States. Here the two sovereign independent states agree to set up common institutions. The competencies of the inter-state bodies are formally agreed between the two states. Interactions include meeting forums between heads of states and a council of ministers appointed by heads of independent states. The common institutions are manned by representatives of the two sovereign independent states whose task is to take decisions on issues of common interest that are identified from time to time jointly by the two sovereign states. Decision-making in inter-state bodies is based on parallel consent while at the executive levels (summit of heads of states, and council of ministers), decisions are based on unanimity. This option is seen to provide the highest degree of political accommodation between the North and South Sudan. One version of Union of Independent States is shown in the figure below.

The choice of the model of interaction between North and South Sudan independent states should put into consideration the following elements in regards to arrangements for political accommodation:

- Should not interfere with or compromise the political independence of South Sudan;
- Should strive as much as possible to implement the principle of right of self-determination of the people of South Sudan as embodied in the CPA, as well as observing the equal right to self-determination of other people in the Sudan;
- Should neither subordinate nor supersede executive-level authority in North or South Sudan;
- The associated frameworks for political interactions should reflect all relevant provisions agreed in the CPA without necessarily being constrained by the CPA;
- Must be able to accommodate the needs of Southern Kordofan, Abyei, Blue Nile, and other areas;
- There must be equity of representation and effective checks and balances in place to ensure parity (for North and Sudan) in political decision making in the shared/common central institutions

From a personal point of view, a confederal arrangement scores highly when measured against the listed guidelines.

One definition of confederation is given below:

"Confederation is a system of administration in which two independent countries enter into [union] while keeping their separate identities. The countries cede some of their powers to a central authority in areas where they share common economic, security, or broadly speaking, developmental concerns. The central authority in confederation is weak and subservient to the founding states. It cannot dominate and can only exercise powers that are ceded to it by the con-federal partners. While confederation is a perpetual arrangement, either of the partners can pull out of it if they so wish. Hence, confederation is like marriage; it takes two to create and maintain but only one partner to dismantle. Confederation comes in different forms depending on the contexts and interests of partners involved."

Fig. 1 Schematic Illustration of Structured Union of Confederal Sates (Source: Gerard Mc Hugh, Envisioning Sudan: Options for Political Accommodation between North and South Sudan Following Referendum, Publication of Conflict Dynamic International, September 2010).

WHAT ARE CHANCES THAT CONFEDERATION WILL BE ACCEPTED BY THE SOUTH?

At official level, SPLM leaders have been dismissive of the idea. Publicly, they have maintained that there will be relationships with the North in case of secession and especially in regards to four (4) freedoms: movement, ownership, residence, and employment. This was confirmed by the First Vice President of Sudan, and President of Government of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, in one of a series of exclusive interviews with Rafayda Yassen of Al-Sudani newspaper that was published beginning on 27 October 2010 and continued for a number of days. According to Salva Kiir, as far as it depended on his government "the people [of North and South Sudan] will be free to work, live, and move and pay visits to friends and relatives in the North and the South, and that the presence of the borders will be meaningless." In a recent interview with the Sudani daily newspaper, Asked of what he thought about "a third way" between unity and separation, Kiir responded:

"I do not know about any other third way between unity and separation other than confederation. And if that is what is meant by the third way, it does apply in the context of two sovereign independent states, as opposed to one and same country. Hence, let our focus be on making sure that referendum takes place on time on 9th January 2011 so that South Sudan can exercise the right to self-determination. If the choice of the South is secession, only then will it be possible for us to enter into negotiations with the North about confederation, and if we both agree [on confederal arrangement], each country will [also] have its own constitution and own government."

Responding to the recent proposal by Egypt to the government of Sudan to consider confederation as one of post-referendum arrangements regarding the relationships between the North and the South in case of secession of South Sudan, the SPLM Secretary General and Minister for Peace and CPA Implementation in the government of South Sudan, Pagan Amum, rejected the call for confederation and instead appealed to "all to work towards timely conduct of referendum and recognition of the outcome and that in case of Southern secession they will be ready to agree any form of relationships that will serve the interests of the North and the South and maintain peaceful coexistence." Now who will doubt that SPLM leadership is organised (or united) as far as their official position is about confederation?

It is worth pointing out (as previously mentioned in the introduction of this paper) that confederation was initially proposed by SPLM far back in Abuja negotiation in 1992, then in Machokos in 2002, and later by Malik Agar on third anniversary of death of SPLM Chairman John Garang de Mabior in January 2008. These earlier proposals were rejected by the NCP, but when raised again in 2008, the party expressed its interest to discuss confederation with the SPLM. And since full independence is of ’higher value’ than confederation in which South must concede some power to the an inter-state authority, it is not surprising to see SPLM reluctant to warm up to reincarnation of the idea in the 11th hour. Intuitively it is like taking two steps backwards.

And as far as public opinion was concerned in the South regarding confederation, it was either dismissive or received the proposal with great skepticism, while asserting the full exercise of right to self-determination by the South. For many South Sudanese, the call for confederation was a distance thunder, until president Thabo Mbeki, the Chairman of African Union High-Level Implementation Panel shocked everyone with the unexpected announcement when he put confederation on the table as one of four (4) post-referendum options the CPA partners must consider during launching of post-referendum negotiation in Khartoum in July 2010. Here, Mbeki proposed to the parties to consider negotiating on one four (4) post-referendum options: unity, separate states requiring citizens of successor and predecessor states to get visas, independent states with soft borders and thus no strict visa requirement, and two sovereign independent countries joined up by a confederate union.

Some of the skepticism amongst South Sudanese to confederation proposal made by Malik Agar and version being placed on the table by president Mbeki is due to the confusion that confederation is being put forward as a substitute for secession in the referendum options or a substitute for the whole exercise of self-determination.50 That means, if it is explained clearly that the referendum will go on as scheduled and result recognised, then people in the South may be prepared to consider the idea. That does not mean there are no Southern separatists who regard confederation as a new tactic by the unionists in Sudan supported by the NGOs and international community with vested interests.51 And admittedly, some of writings were emotive, Southern nationalistic, and devoid of reason, yet not surprising at all. Consider the excerpt from a poem published on internet condemning the unionists and proponents of confederation amongst South Sudanese: Unity is a mamba snake, Unity is a thoroughfare to Golgotha A trap door of a gallows Does the South deserve the guillotine? Beware of Jallaba [Northerners] mendacity Confederation is a ticket to Armageddon A camouflaged lure to uninterrupted misery

If anything, this is a reflection of the deep rooted mistrust which South Sudanese hold against their fellow countrymen in the North for historically well documented injustice. It was this kind of well founded cause for disappointment that prompted the veteran Sudanese statesman, Abel Alier, to write his well known book, Southern Sudan: Too Many Agreements Dishonoured. To overcome this mistrust would require exceptional statesmanship in both North and South in order steer the people of Sudan through these turbulent times to the shores of peace, stability, prosperity, mutual trust and understanding between the citizens of Sudan.

And despite the widespread reservation, there are bright spots of positive response to the call for confederation in post-referendum Sudan if South secedes. For example, consider this quote:

"A confederation is not a bad idea because it answers some tough questions that we cannot answer under unity-separation-only model. But this confederation will only be an option if South Sudanese have chosen to be a different country in 2011. The confederate government will give both the North and the South a bigger market that we desperately need in the world of today."

As a follow up to an earlier contribution,55 this author has argued elsewhere that confederation is a good strategy for South Sudan to tactically choose secession and then enter into a confederal arrangement with the North and be ready give up some of its oil revenue to the North to improve its chances of building its new nation in peace and stability, and that the South should not see secession as an end itself, but rather as a means to attaining freedom.

HOW DOES NORTH SUDAN FEEL ABOUT CONFEDERATION AS A BETTER FORM OF SECESSION?

At official level, there is clear readiness to discuss confederation as previously mentioned in the paper. For example NCP leaders have been positive to recent proposal by Egypt regarding confederation. The wisdom that loosing one limb is better than loosing two applies to the NCP led Khartoum government which would rather not take all historical responsibility for splitting up of the country into a Northern and Southern independent states. No easy answer as to why NCP rejected confederation when it was initially proposed in Abuja in 1992 and Machakos in 2002. We may get some clues when Egypt invited SPLM and NCP to discuss post-referendum arrangements in June 2010, the two parties locked horns trying to trade secularism against Islamic Sharia constitutions.

An NCP insider and former minister of finance and economic planning in the central government, Abdel Rahim Hamdi, made some bold if blunt recommendations to the government regarding North-South relationships in event of secession vote in a workshop organised in Khartoum by Faisal Islamic Bank. The former finance minister called for normalization of relationship with the South in event of secession, opening up of North-South border, and provision of four (4) freedoms: movement, employment, ownership, and residence. He also advised the parties to the CPA not to tie borders demarcation with referendum, and called for formation of economic union between the North and South Sudan with inter-state institutions to manage the relationships between two independent states.

On the academic front, a number of researchers and political experts called for a constitution to regulate the relationships between the predecessor and successor states; maintaining that since it is highly likely there will be a secession vote, there is no need for the government to conduct referendum but should declare South Sudan independence inside the National legislative Assembly. They also called for open borders, and a summit of heads of states; that there must to be equal representation in inter-state bodies. They also proposed that decision-making in inter-state bodies be by unanimity.

At the level of political parties, both Umma and DUP parties support confederation as alternative to full secession. The National Popular Party leader, Hassan Al-Turabi dismissed the recent Egyptian proposal of confederation as "valueless and arcane" in an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsath.

At a popular level, a new campaign organisation named Movement for Assertion of Rights and Confirmation of Citizenship has been formed in Khartoum. It is calling for dual nationality for Southerners in the South and Southerners in the North and four (4) freedoms for all the citizen in the North and the South.

THE STANCE OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IN RESPECT TO CONFEDERATION

The international community is concerned about the lack of a road map that clearly addresses vital post-referendum arrangements that include the nature of North-South relationships capable of tackling the unresolved outstanding political issues such Abyei referendum, management of oil and water resources, demarcation of North-South border, and the citizenship rights of the soon to be independent neighbouring states, movement and ownership of property, among others. Many analysts have expressed doubts about practicality of South Sudan seceding without making compromises in regards to sharing of oil revenue, and reaching a framework agreement on institutional cooperation with the North.

This concern caused the head of AU panel, president Thabo Mbeki to propose confederation to the CPA partners as one of viable post-referendum options in event of South Sudan secession by encouraging them to consider forming: "two independent countries which negotiate a framework of cooperation, which extends to the establishment of shared governance institutions in a confederal arrangement."

President Mbeki also reminded the NCP and SPLM of the changing times, saying: "In the 21st century, the world has changed, and especially Africa has changed. No nation is an island sufficient unto itself. The African Union is itself an expression of the African continent’s desire for integration and unity."

The US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, warned the international community to do more in preparation for January 2011 and described the referendum process as a ’ticking time bomb’, given that the outcome is more likely to be in favour of Southern secession. She prodded the South to agree some accommodation for the North to reduce the chances of a renewed conflict.

President Barrack Obama in his September 24 New York Meeting of UN Security Council underlined his concern for Sudan’s future when he said: " What happens in Sudan in the days ahead may decide whether a people who have endured too much war move towards peace or slip backwards into bloodshed. And what happens in Sudan matters to all of sub-Saharan Africa, and it matters to the world…"

What’s more, the Egyptian foreign minister last week made a proposal to two the CPA partners (SPLM and NCP) to consider confederation in the event of Southern secession.

The UK Secretary for International Development, Mr. Andrew Mitchel, stressed in his visit to Sudan this week that he discussed with the government officials the importance of holding referendum on time and setting up "cooperative institutions after Southern secession."

All this expressed concern demonstrates the importance the international community attaches to reaching a formula for political accommodation in the North-South relations before the referendum takes place, for everyone’s peace of mind.

THE ECONOMICS OF SECESSION AND IMPLICATIONS FOR NORTH AND SOUTH RELATIONS

Seventy five (75) percent of Sudan’s 6 billion barrel proven oil reserves is found in the South. Transportation and sale of oil takes place through the North. Ninety eight (98) percent of the revenue of the government of Southern Sudan comes from oil revenue. When South Sudan secedes, the government of Sudan will loose fifty (50) percent of its oil revenue. There are 1.5 million Southerners with families living in the North. 6 million Northern nomads spend 8 months in a year in the South Sudan in search for pastures and water for their livestock. Unquantifiable number of South Sudanese travel to the North for medical treatment. There are a large number of Northern traders in the South. Northern Sudan needs South Sudanese labour in construction sector and other productive industries. At least fifty (50) percent of academic staff in Southern Universities is comprised of Northerners.

What all this shows is that the economic interests between the North and the South are too intertwined to be sorted successfully by any system of political accommodation except through structured and institutional cooperation between the Northern and the Southern states.

This paper has assumed that referendum will take place either on time as scheduled, or after some delay. It has addressed itself to highlighting the reason why confederation between the North and South has the potential of achieving the needed political accommodation necessary for sustainable peace and prosperity between the North and the South in case of Southern vote for independence. As Sudan and the international community prepare for referendum in January 2011, it has become very apparent to all that agreeing on a number of post-referendum arrangements can speed up the process and could result in a more acceptable outcome for all, leading to recognition of the result if South Sudan votes for independence as is being predicted by analysts and opinion polls.

The ruling party in the North (NCP) is suspected to be playing delaying tactics in order to score as many concessions as possible from SPLM which is the ruling party in South Sudan and cosignatory to the CPA. Moreover, one suspects that the NCP is reluctant to take full moral responsibility for splitting up of the country and thus is looking for a face-saving grace. On its part, instead of taking the lead in making the necessary compromises, SPLM is fearful of its political popularity and future in the South Sudan and hence decided to follow the public mood, wherever it might lead. That is, SPLM is doing things right as oppose to doing the right things.

Moreover, confederation, as far as Southern opinion (SPLM included) is concerned, is akin to taking one a step forward and two steps backward. This, in SPLM view, may unnecessarily be giving a moral victory to NCP, which will likely jump up to claim wining the ’battle for unity.’ On the other hand, by dragging its feet in honouring the Hague ruling on Abyei’s border and putting countless obstacles in the way of completing the referendum, the NCP is deepening mistrust and blowing away any chances of South Sudan considering a confederal arrangement with the North. Given these seemingly insurmountable political obstacles, it appears at the surface as if the current deadlock cannot be broken to pave way for a break through.

The psychological scares for those who will be affected by South and North going their ways without proper institutional arrangements to resolve problems and address issues that are common in nature to the two Sudans, specially in transition zone, are too grave to calculate or quantify. For example, Messyria tribe depend on NCP to defend their interests. People of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile states are thriving in the shadows of SPLM protection. And when the SPLM uproots and moves southwards as it were, its shadows will move with it, and thus jeopardizing the livelihood of those who depend on its presence in the union.

Yes, confederation gives some, albeit superficial moral victory to NCP which it needs in order to safe its face, but does not compromise the independence of South Sudan. On the NCP side, it should try to honour what it has agreed to without hesitation even if it has to take some hard decisions like what Ariel Sharon had to do with the Jewish settlers in the West Bank when he forcefully removed them to honour Israeli pledges to Palestinians. This confederation should initially be renewable over, say four years, after which its performance may be reviewed by the North and the South. It should be internationally recognised and supported with guarantees.

This will not entirely remove the risk of a renewed conflict in the future and may not stop a fervent arm race between the South and the North. It need not be too troublesome if the two Sudans modernize their armies to keep security or create deterrence against war mongers on both sides.

There is no slightest doubt that confederation is the missing link in Sudan’s referendum puzzle. It creates a win-win situation for all people of Sudan, with the South taking most out of it than it can do with separation-only paradigm. While allowing the South to satisfy long held yearning to determine its future, it does so without doing away with historical, economic, and cultural ties with the North. It also absorbs any adverse effects that would result from splitting Sudan after more than a century of coexistence with all its imperfections. An initial agreement or a guaranteed signal in that direction will go a long way in easing the rising tensions. The promised four (4) freedoms the CPA parties have been touting are better served under confederate arrangement. Thus, it rests on the international community to encourage the parties to the CPA to make a bold move towards striking a deal on future confederal arrangements.

Symbolically, Sudan will still be united; that is, united more by mutual interests as opposed to history, prestige, or birth rights. Practically, there will be two independent states cooperating and complementing each other’s economies; each bringing into the union its comparable advantage.

The author is Vice Chancellor of the University of Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Sudan. This paper was presented by the author at a conference organized by St Antony’s College, Oxford University under the theme “Post Elections Governments of Sudan: How are they preparing for a Referendum on Self-Determination?” on 13th November 2010.

The Obama Administration "Decouples" Darfur

Khartoum is given free rein to obtain its "perfect ending" ("Misk al-Khitam")

By Eric Reeves

November 12, 2010 — The relationship between Darfur and Southern Sudan has never been well understood by the Obama administration, largely because of the incompetence of the president’s special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force General Scott Gration. Gration came to the position in early 2009 without any significant diplomatic experience or familiarity with the extraordinary complexities of Sudan—Africa’s largest and most diverse country; he touted as background only his birth in Africa to missionary parents and an apparent facility in Swahili (of no use anywhere in Sudan). But he has enjoyed until recently the full support of President Obama, and this has made informed, tough-minded engagement with the Khartoum regime impossible.

The consequences of this failure are increasingly evident in proliferating news coverage of the critical and unresolved issues between the regime in Khartoum and the southern leadership in Juba. Unsurprisingly, as the scheduled referenda for southern Sudan and Abyei draw nearer, there has been a corresponding proliferation of commentary, nearly all of it from sources as belated as the Obama administration itself in recognizing the dangers looming in Sudan. What these commentaries most conspicuously lack is any sense of the relationship between events in Darfur and Khartoum’s stalling on the southern electoral process.

THE COST of US belatedness in responding to the electoral calendar leading to the two southern referenda has been extraordinarily high (http://www.dissentmagazine.org/atw.... ). With less than two months until the January 9, 2011 date on which the votes are to occur, Khartoum has successfully run out the clock and is in a position to extract significant concessions from the US—sweeteners to persuade the regime to allow the referenda to occur as guaranteed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which in January 2005 ended more than twenty years of unfathomably destructive civil war. Desperate to avoid the diplomatic catastrophe of a CPA collapse, the Obama team has been significantly expanded in recent weeks and months; however, it is far from clear that there is enough time to prevent war from re-igniting, the same war ended by the CPA almost six years ago. Warnings unheeded for well over a year have only now set off all the alarm bells; in turn, the most significant part of the US response has been to offer Khartoum more and more in the way of incentives.

But even this belated and unseemly piling up of goodies for a genocidal regime may not be enough—particularly for securing the Abyei referendum, which Khartoum seems determined to make impossible (there is still no Abyei Referendum Commission, or agreement on the contentious issue of who is resident in the region and thus allowed to vote in the referendum). The purpose of the delay is clearly to allow Khartoum to retain this referendum as a point of leverage in ongoing negotiations with the US and other international actors.

As the consequences of CPA failure have registered ever more fully, the Obama administration has pushed Gration aside and in his place sent Senator John Kerry to Khartoum to conduct urgent negotiations—twice in the past three weeks. The Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—whose record on Sudan is hardly sterling—had been authorized by the President to offer Khartoum expedited removal from the US list that designates Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, but only if the regime plays ball on the southern referendum (increasingly used in the singular by the administration).

This is a very large carrot, though it may still not be enough to satisfy Khartoum’s génocidaires. But what made the offer particularly significant was that it was tendered with the understanding that the deal excluded from consideration any actions in Darfur, genocidal or otherwise (both Senators Kerry and Obama voted in July 2004 to declare genocide to be occurring in Darfur; candidate and President Obama has a number of times reiterated this declaration, on occasion in vigorous language). But at a State Department background briefing on November 8, a "senior administration official" declared that in order to secure cooperation from the regime on the referenda, "the US is prepared to accelerate the removal of Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list." Specifically, in its now desperate effort to rescue the referenda, the administration "would also be decoupling the state sponsor of terrorism from Darfur and the Darfur issue." (http://geneva.usmission.gov/2010/11... )

The "Darfur issue": what fantastically euphemistic language for what had previously been "genocide"! "Decoupling"—yet more euphemism! But the significance of the decision here can hardly be obscured. The leverage deriving from what is certainly the biggest carrot the US has to offer Khartoum will no longer be available for resolution of intensifying armed conflict in Darfur and deteriorating humanitarian conditions affecting more than 4 million civilians, the majority of them displaced from their homes. To be sure, these "senior administration officials" were at pains to point to other sanctions that will remain in place until the "Darfur issue" is resolved (though in fact some have recently been lifted). But the message here has not been lost on the brutally calculating men in Khartoum: in extremis, the US will choose the southern CPA over ending genocidal violence and attrition in Darfur. There is every reason to believe, given past history, that having surrendered on one key issue, the US will be pressured by Khartoum to give yet more. Hence the regime’s decision to leave the Abyei referendum unresolved, no matter how conspicuously obstructionist its tactics. Perversely, by yielding on the issue of state sponsorship of terrorism—and so clearly under duress—the Obama team has given the regime an incentive for extended bargaining, on Abyei at the very least. But even more importantly, the willingness to allow Khartoum to dictate the pace of events provides additional time for the regime to complete its own resolution of the "Darfur issue."

So just what are the costs to Darfur of these diplomatic calculations made under self-inflicted time pressures? What might follow from the US decision to "decouple" Darfur? What is happening in Darfur right now?

"The Perfect Ending"

"Misk al-Khitam" is an Arabic phrase—from the Qur’an—that has reportedly been given by the Khartoum regime to the massive offensive military actions underway in many parts of Darfur and North Kordofan. One rendering of this phrase into English is "The Perfect Ending," perhaps the equivalent of the Latin "Finis Coronat Opus," "The End Crowns the Work." Certainly numerous reports from the region confirm that Khartoum is undertaking a vast movement of arms, men, and materiel into Darfur, and is again recruiting and deploying the Janjaweed as brutal militia proxies, often in the guise of paramilitary "Border Guards." The UN/African Union “hybrid” force in Darfur has proved impotent in investigating these reports, but they are too numerous, widespread, and consistent to be construed as anything other than the beginning of "Misk al-Khitam."

One well-informed Darfuri has written to me that “evidence of mobilization in Darfur is everywhere: airports, convoys leaving large cities and towns, heading toward villages in North and West Darfur” (email received November 2, 2010). This source continues: “Many tanks, troops were seen in North Darfur near Kutum, Kornoi, and al-Tina. Additionally, Janjaweed gatherings were seen in the West Darfur areas of el-Geneina and Kulbus.” And further, “Loads of pro-Government of Sudan volunteers landed in Kutum (North Darfur) airport.” When asked who they were and where they were going, one enthusiast replied, “We are mujahideen and the government told us we have to fight the infidels and supporters in Darfur. We came to clean Darfur.” The same source reports that a family member in Nyala has observed a sharp uptick in military flights out of Nyala airport.

Much of the weaponry and ammunition used by the regime’s forces in Darfur comes from China, despite a UN arms embargo on the region. At the UN in New York, Beijing is attempting to suppress a current report by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur (charged with monitoring the arms embargo under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1591, March 2005). But much of report has been leaked and the findings are damning:

• "Twelve of these [ammunition] samples bear markings consistent with markings applied by manufacturers in the People’s Republic of China."

• "Foreign post-embargo produced ammunition was recovered from the positions of the attackers at all three of the sites of attacks on UNAMID (U.N./African Union peacekeepers) personnel — including the attack in which three Rwandan UNAMID peacekeepers were killed near Nertiti in West Darfur in June 2010."

• "The majority of small arms ammunition cartridges which the Panel encountered in Darfur have markings consistent with those applied by Chinese manufacturers." (Reuters [Dateline: UN/New York], October 27, 2010)

For its part, Khartoum has done little to conceal its ongoing violation of the arms embargo—or its use of military aircraft in combat operations, also in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591. Indeed, so brazen is the regime that even during a recent Security Council visit to el-Fasher,

“Ground attack jets of the kind that a UN report says may have been used by Sudan’s government in strikes in Darfur in violation of an arms embargo were in plain view of Security Council diplomats during their visit this month to Sudan’s conflict-torn region. Sudan has acquired 15 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ jets from Belarus since 2008….”

“A Reuters reporter accompanying the delegation took the photograph of the Su-25s in full view of Sudanese and UN security officials and Security Council diplomats. Several envoys in the delegation also noticed the jets and voiced surprise that Sudan’s government left them on the tarmac near a UN plane that was taking the envoys to the capital Khartoum.”

The jets in the photograph were identified by three experts, including Gareth Jennings, managing editor of Jane’s Missiles and Rockets. “They are specifically designed to attack ground targets and are the Russian equivalent of the US Air Force A-10 Warthog,’ Jennings said in a statement to Reuters.” (Reuters [dateline: UN/New York], October 22, 2010)

And of course air-to-ground combat has been extremely intense and immensely destructive throughout the Darfur conflict; such combat has also involved helicopter gunships, Antonov bombers, and even MiG-29’s. That such attacks have been repeatedly confirmed, even by the largely incompetent UN/African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID), as well as by countless reports from the ground by Darfuri sources, presents a spectacle of UN impotence and failure that would be difficult to surpass in a peacekeeping context.

Heavy fighting has occurred off and on since January, especially in the populous eastern Jebel Marra region of central Darfur (Khartoum has imposed a near total humanitarian blockade of the region since February). So too have Janjaweed assaults on non-Arab civilians: in early September Janjaweed forces attacked the village of Tabarat in North Darfur, executing 58 unarmed African men and boys, and wounding 86, according to the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (http://www.acjps.org/Publications.html ). But fighting over the past two months—and especially the past two weeks—has become even more destructive of civilian lives and livelihoods, as Human Rights Watch very recently reported:

“[Khartoum’s] forces have carried out a series of attacks on civilians since August 2010 in Jebel Marra…. Credible accounts from witnesses to the attacks indicate that Sudanese government forces committed serious laws-of-war violations during attacks in August, September, and October on populated areas around Deribat, Jawa, and Soni in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur. The attacks resulted in civilian deaths and injuries, mass displacement, and destruction of property. In the first week of November, government forces continued the attacks, targeting villages to the south of Soni, causing further destruction and displacement.”

“On September 30, government Antonov airplanes and helicopters dropped bombs and rockets on the town of Jawa, setting fire to the market and killing six civilians, including the imam of the mosque and a woman and her two sons, one a six-month-old baby, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The same day, government soldiers and militias entered the town and surrounding villages and looted civilian properties….”

“In the first week of October, government forces bombed numerous villages on the road from Deribat to Soni, and a cluster of villages south of Soni, including Feina, destroying hundreds of homes, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. Government troops in the area have prevented civilians from returning to their farms…. The attacks, which continue to date, caused tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes, mostly to scattered settlements in rebel-controlled areas that the government has made off-limits to UN and humanitarian organizations. Sources on the ground told Human Rights Watch that the health conditions of displaced populations are deteriorating. The total number of casualties in the recent attacks is not known.” (Human Rights Watch, “Halt Wave of Attacks on Civilians in Darfur,” November 11, 2010, at http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/11/... )

For its part, Radio Dabanga—now the primary source of detailed news from the ground in Darfur—has recently provided dozens of additional reports. These come from places with names unfamiliar to most, but give some sense of the geographic ambition of the current offensive:

“The Military headed toward the areas of Kirkey Towleh and Drinksonki Derissa [from Nyala, South Darfur].” (Dateline: Nyala, November 9, 2010)

“The rebel Justice and Equality Movement engaged in three straight days of fighting and offensive movements in [northeast] North Darfur, South Darfur, and North [Kordofan].” (Dateline: al-Majrur, November 7)

“The…battle was fought Saturday, November 6, at Darma, 25 kilometres northeast of Kornoi [northwest North Darfur]…. Rebels claim that [Khartoum’s] Kornoi battalion fled the battlefield leaving behind more than 100 dead, scores of war prisoners, 32 vehicles…and 10 supply trucks.” (Dateline: al-Majrur, November 7, 2010; JEM provided a detailed breakdown of the captured vehicles, including mounted heavy weapons)

“Government fuel convoy attacked by rebels near South Darfur city: More than 50 government soldiers were killed in battle while dozens of others were injured, according to reports from South Darfur. The battle raged near the railway line yesterday, at Khor Ta’an area, which lies along the road between Ed Daein [eastern South Darfur] and Nyala, the largest city in Darfur.” (Nyala, November 4, 2010)

The Sudan Tribune reports (November 5, 2010):

“Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Friday [November 5, 2010] clashed with the Sudanese army in North Kordofan, two days after similar fighting in South Darfur. JEM military spokesperson said today a government mobile force mounted on 147 vehicles attacked their troops at Hamari, south of Ghibaisha town in North Kordofan. Ali Alwafi further said they captured 35 vehicles and destroyed other 12.”

The rebel movements—augmented by a number of recent defections from Khartoum’s Arab militia allies and by huge captures of ammunition, vehicles, fuel, and arms—have fought Khartoum’s offensive vigorously, and—while suffering many defeats—have administered what appear to be a series of substantial military blows to the regime’s forces, including shooting down a MiG-29 (the most advanced fighter jet in the regime’s arsenal; with servicing and training, it cost this debt-ridden and famine-prone country $30 million—and Khartoum has purchased 24).

For its part, Khartoum baldly and characteristically lies, declaring through Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein that, “Darfur is free of insurgency” (http://www.shrig.org.sd/news-archiv... ). But of course such mendacity changes nothing, whatever its domestic political purposes. And inevitably it is Darfuri civilians who pay the all-too-real price for any rebel victory. Those such as Obama administration envoy Gration—who has claimed that there are “only remnants of genocide” in Darfur—should review carefully a number of recent reports on ethnically-targeted violence in the region:

“Today November 9th, Government forces and allied militia paid a reprisal visit to the town of Bia Kida near Boba [North Darfur], the site of their last defeat at the hands of JEM. Government of Sudan force committed a multiple rape of three girls, took away 7 men to an unknown destination and tortured 30 citizens of all ages and gender including aged and children. They also killed 120 sheep and drove away with 200 heads of camels.” (This JEM press release [ http://www.sudanjem.com/2009/archiv... ] came over the name of Suleiman Jamous, humanitarian coordinator for the rebel group; he is without question the most reliable and honest of rebel interlocutors.)

Intense fighting in the northwest area of North Darfur is also part of a campaign of civilian destruction, directed at non-Arab tribal groups, as reported to me by a Darfuri in the diaspora with excellent contacts on the ground in Darfur (lightly edited for clarity):

“Civilians in the area say that the plan of the Government of Sudan is to depopulate specific areas in North Darfur:

[1] There was heavy bombings around the water wells in the vicinities of Kornoi (northwest of Kutum).

[2] The khazan of Doba (khazan means water reservoir) was bombed 24 hours ago. This is one of [the] large reservoirs of water in North Darfur. The rainy season has just ended last month; the rain water accumulated in this reservoir [and is] expected to last till May. Now by this damage, the civilians and their livestock are expected to migrate to other places, probably to Chad for water and security reasons.” (email received November 6, 2010)

Radio Dabanga reported from Tawilla (North Darfur east of el-Fasher) that,

“Uniformed gunmen killed four (4) people and injured 24 in Tawila in central Darfur. The victims were displaced people who had made the town their temporary home. Among the dead is a child. The gunmen were dressed in military uniforms and rode on camels. They opened fire indiscriminately at people on the way to Konji Market of Ronda Camp, in Tawila of North Darfur State.” ([dateline: Tawilla], November 2, 2010)

The victims were all from African tribal groups, as were those in Jebel Kargo (South Darfur):

“A force of 12 Land Cruisers and 3 tanks attacked Kailik camp [ ] in Jebel Kargo yesterday. The attack led to the killing of 17, the wounding of others and the burning of villages and neighboring farms, which caused residents to flee into the mountains, according to rebel commander Hamid Ibrahim.” (Radio Dabanga, November 12, 2010)

And from Tawilla, el-Fasher, and Shangil Tobaya Radio Dabanga reports:

“Thousands of people displaced from East Jebel Marra are fleeing toward the camps of El Fasher, Tawila and Shangil Tobaya. Hundreds of families reaching the camps have included some cases of fatigue and severe fatigue as a result of the long days spent on the perilous journey. They left after their villages were burned and their property destroyed by aerial bombardment and ground offensive by the army. Local activists told Radio Dabanga that hundreds of families that have reached the camps in Tawila, Shangil Tobaya and El Fasher are living in the open without shelter or food.”

“A rebel faction thought to have controlled the area said that it had no forces in the area during the offensive. The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Al Nur said that its forces were absent from the areas devastated in the offensive. The movement’s spokesman Ahmed Ibrahim described what happened in East Jebel Marra as genocide. He said that civilians in these areas were targeted deliberately, systematically, and in a planned way, through extensive bombing of their villages to ashes.” (October 19, 2010)

The ethnic targeting that produced these massive displacements had been reported by Radio Dabanga several days earlier:

“Witnesses who are ethnically Fur described atrocities and hardships facing inhabitants of eastern Jebel Marra. They said their villages were destroyed by aerial bombardment by Antonov planes and ground offensive by government forces, killing large numbers of civilians and displacing thousands of people. Witnesses who spoke to Radio Dabanga described what happened in the area of Bom Boli in East Jebel Marra. They said their region was subjected to a campaign of mass rapes by government forces described as Janjaweed. A witness who managed to escape and access a safe area after marching for days on foot described what happened for the Saturday broadcast.”

“The witness affirmed that all areas and villages destroyed by aircraft in East Jebel Marra had no presence of fighters from the armed movements. She said that displaced women had figured out how to use their radio on low frequencies to listen to talks taking place between captain of the Antonov aircraft and others on the ground to determine which sites to be bombed. She explained that once they select the sites they then shell the villages and populated communities. She related that someone asked how much the distance was between Java and Suni and then another said to him four kilometers, and then said to him, ‘bomb, bomb this place,’ and those were all areas where there were villages of civilians.”

This genocidal destruction marks an acceleration in the campaign begun in September. Radio Dabanga reported on September 28, 2010:

“57 killed, 6 villages burnt in Sudan army attack: Darfur rebels—the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahed Al Nur announced that 57 people were killed and 25 others wounded during an offensive by the Sudanese government in central Darfur.”

“SLM…controls the highlands of central Darfur. The movement said that six entire villages were burnt in East Jebel Marra by intensive aerial bombardment by government aircraft that were supporting ground troops in the region. The rebel spokesman called on the UN Security Council, the European Union and the United States of America to investigate independently the intensive aerial bombardment by the government on the villages of the Jebel Marra mountains….”

No such investigation has been undertaken, but the many eyewitness accounts, including those cited by Human Rights Watch, leave little doubt about what has been occurring.

Beyond military actions and large-scale civilian destruction—portending a major push toward “the perfect ending”—there has been a very sharp escalation of smaller-scale attacks on civilians, including rape and torture, both in camps and rural areas; and there has been a corresponding increase in the arrests of traditional leaders (especially in the camps) and Darfur human rights leaders elsewhere in the country. This has been accompanied by a widespread and severe crackdown on news media, including the offices of Radio Dabanga in Khartoum (Radio Dabanga broadcasts from The Netherlands). Fourteen people, including human rights workers, lawyers, and journalists, were arrested on October 20, 2010. In Nyala four children were among those sentenced to death for their ties to one of the rebel movements and a charge of carjacking (http://www.acjps.org/Publications/P... ). The regime in Khartoum has never been more repressive. Even the UN-sponsored Miraya Radio is being blocked from broadcasting (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.ph... ); this follows the forced closing of BBC and Radio France International radio stations broadcasting in Arabic from Khartoum.

It would be difficult to overstate how brazen the regime has become in its present drive to complete work in Darfur. Just hours prior before the arrival of a UN Security Council delegation in el-Fasher (North Darfur), an army spokesman for the regime announced an offensive in eastern Jebel Marra (Reuters [dateline el-Fasher], October 7, 2010). The results are grimly chronicled above in this analysis. Following the Council visit to a displaced persons camp near el-Fasher in North Darfur, some of those brave enough to speak with UN ambassadors and staff were arrested and others immediately went into hiding. So far the Security Council has done nothing to secure the release of these individuals or to protect those still at large. And in a characteristic bit of UN disingenuousness, the new top UN humanitarian official, Valerie Amos, declared on her own subsequent visit to the same area, “I hope that there is no fear”—this after camp leaders (sheiks) from al-Salam camp refused to meet with her (Agence France-Presse [dateline: al-Salam camp, North Darfur], November 7, 2010). “Hope” indeed.

At the same time, humanitarian conditions throughout Darfur continue to deteriorate as access and capacity are further diminished—as does information about humanitarian conditions and security. During its time in Darfur, the UN Security Council delegation was scheduled to receive briefings from some of the UN agency heads about protection issues; but these critical briefings were cancelled and commentary was instead circulated in paper, with no opportunity for follow-up questioning. Georg Charpentier, the head of UN relief efforts in Darfur, refuses to release reports on humanitarian conditions, effectively silencing nongovernmental relief organizations as well; he also allows his own public statements to be vetted by Khartoum, and refuses to speak out on urgent humanitarian issues. His silence on the regime’s July expulsion of senior officials of the UN High Commission for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Office for Migration was all too conspicuous

None of this shows any sign of changing. Indeed, as I’ve recently noted, (http://www.dissentmagazine.org/atw.... ), Nils Kastberg, UNICEF representative in Sudan, recently admitted to Radio Dabanga that,

“[T]he Sudanese government ‘very often’ bars the release of data on child malnutrition in Darfur. Sudanese security services have also hindered or delayed UNICEF’s access to camps in Darfur, [Kastberg said]: ‘Part of the problem has been when we conduct surveys to help us address issues, in collaboration with the ministry of health, very often other parts of the government such as the humanitarians affairs commission interferes and delays in the release of reports, making it difficult for us to respond timely.’”

To this must now be added a shocking charge from former US special envoy for Sudan, Richard Williamson:

“[When] Khartoum kicked out 13 international humanitarian NGOs from Darfur [March 2009] that were providing badly needed assistance, again the Obama team’s response was weak. Days later, the administration praised Khartoum for letting three of the NGOs back into Darfur. Meanwhile, for more than a year US government reports of inadequate humanitarian aid to Darfur have been covered up in Washington, according to two people familiar with the documents.” (Foreign Policy [on-line], November 11, 2010, at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articl... )

As Radio Dabanga suggests, because Washington provides the most aid to Darfur, “it [has] extensive insider access to unpublished reports by humanitarian groups that have been largely silenced since put under threat of expulsion in March 2009.” And contrary to the disingenuous suggestion about NGO returns to Darfur by the Obama administration—including special envoy Gration and Senator Kerry—there was a permanent, substantial reduction in humanitarian capacity, leadership experience, and logistical ability. The organizations expelled (e.g., Save the Children/USA, the largest humanitarian actor in West Darfur) were not allowed back in. Yes, several of these NGOs were replaced by another national section of the organization (in the case instanced here, Save the Children/Sweden); but they arrived belatedly, and with nowhere near the capacity, experience, or institutional memory of the organizations expelled. We will never know how many lives have been lost because of these unconscionable expulsions—too many to bear contemplating.

But if Richardson’s more ominous charge is true, it signals a despicable acquiescence in war crimes and crimes against humanity—for that is what Khartoum’s widespread, systematic denial and obstruction of humanitarian assistance over seven years amounts to. Any cover-up or suppression of information, deliberately denying to the broader international community an understanding of the scope of humanitarian distress in Darfur, betrays all that Obama has said as senator, candidate, and president, and has contributed to the loss of innocent lives.

THROUGH INCOMPETENCE, misprision, and disingenuousness, the Obama administration has created the potential for diplomatic catastrophe—the collapse of the southern referenda and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The most urgent of measures are required if Khartoum is to be persuaded to allow a peaceful and fully honored referendum for the South, as well as a referendum for Abyei—or at the very least a negotiated arrangement on Abyei that is satisfactory to Juba (a highly unlikely diplomatic achievement). And this would still leave extraordinary tensions between the indigenous Ngok Dinka and nomadic Misseriya Arabs, as well as an uneasy cease-fire between insufficiently disciplined military forces on both sides of the North/South border. Abyei will remain a flashpoint for renewed conflict indefinitely, especially since the UN peace support operation in the South has proved as feckless and incompetent as its counterpart in Darfur.

But if only for the sake of history, let us be clear about why the diplomatic situation is so desperate, and how that desperation translates into an incentive for Khartoum to complete its “Perfect Ending” in Darfur, a project now fully underway.

Eric Reeves is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide

The USA and the UK on Sudan

By Steve Paterno

November 10, 2010 — In his farewell address, the first US President George Washington laid out the foundation for US policy of isolationism. “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” President Washington warned the people of his newly formed country. At the time, it made sense for America to pursue policy of isolation. The USA has just barely been established with a unique constitution like no other before. Foreign nations, especially those with colonial ambitions were viewed with suspicions. The great oceans erected natural buzzer zones, separating between America and rendering the rest of the world remote. Therefore, America could do without others.

Nonetheless, before long, America found itself expanding its dominance over the Western Hemisphere. The US was gradually redefining its isolationism. A century later after its foundation, America was fully entangled in affairs of others, far away from the comfort of fortress America. As such, isolationism was eroded. Interventionism took deep root. America inherited the “frequent controversies” of world affairs, which President Washington warned that it must be avoided. To some, American interventionism becomes a force of good in the world; promoting peace, establishing democracies and providing humanitarian assistance to the world needy. While to others, American interventionism is a force of evil; motivated by self interest, which display arrogance, ignorance and lack of empathy toward others.

On the other hand, the UK has a different history to show off for. Its approach toward the world is based on imperialism. King Henry VII of England helped laying down the foundation of what would become the British Empire, which at one point at its peak, covered almost a quarter of planet earth, with one quarter of world population under its crown. This lend to the credence that "the sun never sets on British Empire." The colonization served the Imperial British very well. Up-to-date, British influence over its subjects is profound.

In a race against time, the USA and UK are converging in Sudan in a last ditch effort to avert a potential catastrophic war between the South and North of Sudan. Sudan presents a set of difficult challenges to America. By getting involved in Sudan, America is venturing into unchartered territory. Up until recently, Sudan never featured in American radar, much less on its policy. However, a combination of events that show the emergence of international Islamic terrorism and increase of human rights abuses, dragged the US into getting involve in Sudan affairs. While in Sudan, the US is trying to balance its effort to maintain peace and stability on one hand and on the other, to safeguard its strategic interest, particularly gain cooperation on war on terrorism. Sometimes, the US is finding that it is playing a contradictory role or that its efforts are counterproductive. The American brokered peace deal on Sudan, the CPA is on verge of proving US legacy of success or failure. The Abyei Protocol, which is drafted by the Americans is already unraveling, largely because of disengagement.

The UK in its part is going back to Sudan in an attempt to resolve the problems it once contributed to create. The UK invaded Sudan, for among other reasons, to overthrow Islamic fundamental regime of Mahadi and also to establish unimpeded access over the Nile River. (Unfortunately, the remnants of Islamic fundamentalists of Mahadi’s era continue to ravage the country for the last half a century). When the British conquered Sudan, the country was already separated between the South and North. The British were quick to discover this. Ironically enough, the only thing the British found, which united Sudan was the Nile River that so happened to flow from South to North. As National Geographic correctly depicts it, the contrast between the South and North of Sudan is so stark that it can even be seen from the surface of the moon.

Given this stark contrast, during its colonial rule, the British pursued a more pragmatic policy of two Sudans; where Christianity and English was encouraged in the South and Islam and Arabic allowed to flourish in the North. The British policy in part stipulated that it must “keep the Southern Sudan as free as possible of Mohammedan influences.” The threats of “Mohammedan” against the South Sudanese then and now, can never be underestimated. Sadly though, the British decided to abandon its own policy and bailed out on South Sudanese by allowing an artificial unity between the South and North of Sudan—the result of which, decades of fierce wars, death, and misery.

Now that the UK wants to redeem itself by getting actively involve in Sudan, it must get back into the basic. This means: the British must recognize and support the rights of South Sudanese people for an independent country. The US is also still have an opportunity to prove that it is a force of good in the world by supporting South Sudan to achieve its full democratic rights of self determination. A successful independent South Sudan is an American legacy of success and a redemption to the British cruel imperial history.

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com

A Southerner in North Sudan

By Karen Ringuette

November 7, 2010 — Two months before a referendum on self determination in south Sudan threatens to split the country in two, a million or more southerners living in north Sudan are wondering what their fate will be. One southern man who has made his life in Khartoum tells of his concerns and of the waiting.

Modi was born in Juba, the capital of south Sudan, where his father comes from. His a Muslim and belongs to the Bari tribe, one of several that make up the largest tribe in the Juba area. His mother comes from Uganda, several hours south of the border. In this part of Sudan mixed parentage is common and people move back and forth between the two countries without any problem.

In 1992 Modi was working and living in Juba with his small family when the war intensified. By that time Uganda had become inaccessible and southerners from all over were congregating in the city. Life had become particularly crowded and difficult there, and with the bombings the airport was besieged by people wanting to board one of the three daily Khartoum-bound humanitarian flights. Most passengers were women, children and the elderly, in addition to relatives of Sudanese army personnel. It was then that Modi sent his wife and two children to safety in the north.

Only in 1997 was Modi able to join them and begin the difficult task of making his life in the north. He was obliged to take any job to survive, so he carried bricks at construction sites and did casual labour in factories. Eventually he got a decent job and the family settled in well here where most of his children have been born and raised.

In the south, he said, it was only after the 2005 peace agreement, when the SPLA came out of the bush, that people started moving freely again.

Thinking back to five years ago, he said: “People were relieved when the peace agreement was signed. Since then, many of us have only just started to enjoy our lives and peace. But it seems suddenly the referendum is upon us and we have to ask ourselves: What is our fate as southerners in the north? How will the referendum be carried out? And if the country separates, how will it be? If there was no referendum we would not be thinking of going south.”

He said there had not been an information campaign for southerners living in the north and a lot of them did not know what was going on. As for those who were trying to stay informed, many questions remained unanswered.

“If there is separation,” Modi said, “Can I remain in the north and under what citizenship? What will the conditions be for those southerners who want to acquire northern citizenship? Imagine, today I am a southern Sudanese and tomorrow I am a northerner. But if I don’t return to the south now, southerners might look at me as someone who did not stand with them during the struggle. And if I return later to the south, will I be eligible for citizenship? It is a complicated situation already, but for some of us it is especially difficult, as we will have to turn our lives upside down once again.”

With regard to the politics back home, Modi said: “If we talk of the south, there are different political parties and these parties need to come together as a united force, but until now they have not. It would have been best if they had sat down and come up with one agenda, then if we voted for separation we would know where we stand.”

As for Abyei, the disputed, oil-rich area at the centre of the contentious and never-ending border demarcation process, Modi says, “If they don’t reach an agreement for Abyei, and there is war, it is the common man who will pay the price, no politician will die there.”

He continued: “If given the freedom to express his desire the common person will vote for peace, but it is the politicians in Sudan who are dictating what will happen. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) dominates the south as much as the National Congress Party (NCP) dominates the north.”

And while differences in Sudan are often portrayed as marked by an Arab-Muslim dominated north and a largely Christian south, Modi says: “The issue is purely about power sharing and wealth sharing. What is taking place has nothing to do with religion, religion is a cover up issue.”

He continued, “People are divided - you either vote for separation or you vote for unity. Today, as southerners in the north our main concern is if the outcome of the referendum is unity, then there will probably be a reaction in the south and they might attack northerners there. And if northerners are attacked in the south there will be revenge attacks in the north.” The reverse scenario could play out if the vote is for separation.

Modi said: “While I am not part of these problems, how do I defend myself in the street? I cannot say I am not part of this or that. So, I will send my family to Juba because that is probably the safest place for them, and in a worst-case scenario there may not be any flights south. Meanwhile I will continue to work here, and wait.

The way I see it, people have fought for twenty years but the peace agreement is only five years old, so, it is premature for southerners to claim we want to separate, especially given the time frame and all the complexities.

But now we are left with only two months, and politicians on both sides have not convinced the public that they have taken enough steps to ensure this process takes place as best as possible. Now, the most important thing is for the parties to resolve the Abyei issue and ensure the smooth running of the referendum. They need to sit down and come up with an agreement.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum it should be peaceful. We are all like brothers, we were born into one family, and even when we move to different houses - at the end of the day we are still brothers.

US May Reconsider Sudan's Terror List Status

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States may remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as next July, U.S. officials said Sunday, provided the government in Khartoum meets an assortment of benchmarks.

Of primary concern is a Jan. 9 referendum in which southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the northern part of the country. The south is widely expected to vote for independence.

The U.S. is insisting that the referendum proceed as planned, and that the northern-based government respect the results, before it will consider removing Sudan's terrorist designation.

The referendum is part of the 2005 peace agreement that ended a 21-year civil war between Sudan's mostly Muslim north and predominantly animist and Christian south that killed nearly 2 million people. The agreement also set up a unity government in Khartoum and an autonomous government in the south to rule until the southern referendum.

The two sides have been struggling over several issues, including borders, voting rights and control of oil-rich Abyei, which straddles the north-south border. Residents of Abyei are scheduled to hold a separate referendum on Jan. 9 to choose whether the region will join Sudan's north or a possible new country in the south.

Salva Kiir, president of southern Sudan, has expressed concerns about a serious risk of violence during the referendum.

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with Sudanese leaders over the weekend and presented the Obama administration's proposal to remove Sudan from the terrorist list. It comes on top of a September offer of a range of incentives, including possible restoration of full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Sudan.

The Future of Sudan without Andrew Natsios

By El-tahir Adam El-faki

November 6, 2010 — At the end of Andrew Natsios speech at Georgetown University on October 19.2010, he was questioned by a Sudanese journalist. It all began like this: Andrew Natsios: This gentleman here. My name is Fatah Arman. I’m a Sudanese journalist. Do you think there’s any… Natsios: Are you taking notes on what I’m saying? Arman: Yes, indeed. Natsios: You are making me nervous.

And Mr. Natsios was indeed extraordinarily nervous. All was about lack and accuracy of information in his speech which I took time to read its script in depth twice. Each time I was left wondering how a distinguished diplomat will rely on emotions and inspiration in delivering such an important speech without relying on facts. Serious questions arose. Was he speaking in his capacity as an expert on Sudanese affairs, as an advocate or a member of the NCP (the National Congress Party of Bashir)! Did he know the facts and he deliberately skewed them in favour of the NCP or he didn’t really know! In both cases he has a lot to answer. Let us now go through his presentation and discuss in details some of his arguments.

Firstly Mr. Natsios stated that the North have just pulled almost all of its troops out of Darfur, rearmed them heavily and have already redeployed them along the length of the North South border particularly concentrated near the oil fields. He summed up the reasons for such redeployments that the North is facing eminent threats from the south, as part of its tactical negotiating policy and pandering to domestic constituencies. Contradicting himself and confusing his audience he went along to say: ‘This is normal – this is not unusual. I believe they’ve deployed those troops so that that army is not focusing their guns against the regime. They are focusing against the South and they are whipping up this hysteria to make sure there isn’t a coup.’ He went even further to explain on behalf of the NCP: ‘It’s not an irrational sort of strategy which I understand why they are doing it – they are seriously at risk of losing overall power’. The fact of the matter is that so far there has been no proof that both sides are building up troops along the border. The partners SPLM/NCP have both agreed to set up a fact-finding and surveillance team to verify the claim. The borders have not been demarcated yet and its length extends over a thousand miles. And yet he insists that there is redeployment along its entire length! Neither side has enough troops to man the borders even if they were compelled to do so. There are no troops so far that have been redeployed from Darfur into the South/North borders. On the contrary the North has amassed more troops to Darfur to execute its new strategy of domesticating the Darfur problem to flush all rebel forces from the region. It is not imagination. The arrival of Defense and Interior ministers last week in Al-Fasher, the capital of north Darfur aimed at boosting the morale of the SAF (Sudan Armed Forces) remains visible evidence. Troops are gathered in North, South and West Darfur and are ready to move and encircle JEM fighters supposed to be entrenched in Wadi Hower. The assaults on Jebel Mara which Abdel Wahid’s forces occupy have already been attacked. SAF spokesperson confirmed the attacks as legitimate targets and verified by NGOs. More than twenty thousand new IDPs fled the area. It is not unreasonable to assume that Mr. Natsios aims at drawing attention away from what is happening in Darfur to concentrate on the south as he always says.

Secondly there is urgent need for Mr. Natsios to re-read the history of the war in the South once more. While we are not here to defend one side against the other the fact of the matter is that both parties (SPLM/NCP) have admitted time and again that the war in the South was at a stalemate. No one won it and none was expected to win it in the long term. By saying that the North agreed to the peace process due to the heavy losses and that they were dying and getting wiped out by Garang’s army in the South lacks evidence. Neither the SPLA nor the SAF declared officially that the peace process was because the North was losing the war or the SPLA was winning it. The main reason is that both sides came to the conclusion that peace is the only means for sustainable stability, prosperity for all under a united Sudan. For Mr. Natsios to insist to state repeatedly that one side was winning remains illusionary.

Thirdly Mr. Natsios sketched a grim scenario of what will happen if Bashir and the NCP’s regime were to go. He started to immediately build up scare mongering strategy by indicating who the likely successors are. And of course he named Dr. Turabi and his followers who are much worse for everybody, north and south included. We are not here to defend Turabi or his followers. The argument that he is the successor would not add up. Bashir and his NCP will fall if there is generalized uprising, if he is deposed in coup, by resignation or defeated in fair elections. Mr. Natsios already informed us that Turabi’s overall share of votes in the country and at its best is around 16-17% of the national vote. The traditional sectarian parties like the Umma, the Democratic Unionist and the Communist parties still enjoy majority among the Sudanese people. We do not understand, therefore how with such minority will Turabi or his associates assume power if Bashir is to lose in fair elections? Mr. Natsisos has already ruled out that Turabi’s followers will never dare to stage a coup because the army will have to take the strong National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) which are loyal to Bashir. For Mr. Natsios to analyze and come to conclusion that the composition of the SAF is mainly of Turabi’s followers or allies needs rethinking. The Islamist leader has been out of power for over ten years most of his supporters have been incarcerated in prison. During this time thousands of army officers have graduated from military colleges who are certainly not handpicked by him. They must have been vetted and found staunchly loyal to Bashir before they were conscripted. If we take at face value Natsios’s theory that Turabi personally handpicked his followers and incorporated them into the army we have to equally accept that those followers have now been exposed, dismissed and replaced with Bashir’s loyalists whom he must have handpicked as well. If a coup took place then it would not be Turabi’s allies. In case a spontaneous or direct uprising takes place and challenges Bashir and succeeds to overthrow him and assumes power, leaders of such an uprising will not be allied to Turabi or his allies.

Finally if Bashir decides to step down voluntarily or forced out of office by the NCP neither Turabi nor his allies will have chance to take over. It is therefore erroneous for Mr. Natsios to state that Turabi will be the sole successor to power if Bashir is to go.

Bashir and the NCP need not look for PR Companies in the West to improve their image. A company is already there and for free! It is hard to understand how far and more than this will Mr. Natsios go to advocate and defend a despicable regime such as the NCP? Why is he so keen to defend the one person responsible for the proven atrocities committed in Darfur? The same person who publicly said he did not want wounded or POWs? Why is he failing to see Bashir as the main obstacle to comprehensive solutions to Sudan’s ills and a stable and a viable South is unlikely while he presides in power?

Andrew Natsios views on sanctions and the ICC are shared with Alex De Waal of the Social Science and Research Council (SSRC). Those views became attractive to US special envoy to Sudan Mr. Scott Gration who has taken them as his official policy. They all believe that sanctions compounded by advocacy have actually resulted in the elimination of Western influence and deterred oil companies from working in Sudan and the results have been bad for the South. It is not clear how Darfurians would not get justice and peace together? What is Natsios’s interest to deny both for the victims?

Fourthly, the most dangerous view is to instigate the South to consider the North as real or imaginary future enemy based on Nancy Birdsall’s theory. To specify that Turabi is the real enemy of the South and that he will abrogate the CPA lays down ground for build up of fear needed for war. Promoting discord and creating persistent suspicion between the North and the South in order to prevent the South from getting corrupted by present or future wealth seems uncanny. Presumptuous that the ongoing fear of the North will actually oblige wealth to be invested into development is subject to scrutiny and intensive debate.

Let us go through the script and read; ‘If Bashir stays in power and he still dominates the NCP, I do not believe there is going to be a war between the North and the South… If the regime is deposed and Omar Bashir is no longer the President, I think the risks of a war increase dramatically because it’s likely that Hassan Turabi or his allies will take power and if they take power, the first thing they are going to do is abrogate the CPA. The reality is the most dangerous man in Sudan for the South, in fact for the Sudan, is Hassan al Turabi – not Omar Bashir. The main objective for accepting Birdsall’s theory is undoubtedly to scare the South and encourage it to support Bashir to stay in power long enough for its own sake.

Fifthly, his consideration of JEM as a tribal movement and an ally of Turabi based on the biography of its leader Dr. Khalil Ibrahim and questioning its operation to invade Khartoum eyeing it with suspicion. It must be with great honor and pride that to remember and celebrate the courage, the valour and the bravery of JEM fighters during their audacious invasion of Sudan’s Capital in May 2008. It is time to reveal some facts to correct misunderstandings. The decision to take the centre was collectively made by JEM leadership on the 27th of October 2007 during the plenary session of its General Conference held in Wadi Howar in North Darfur that was attended by 700 people. We have to reveal now that the Government of Sudan was in full knowledge of the operation from day one. Days and nights of consecutive air raids preceded the actual operation. Power of air strikes aimed at breaking JEM’s morale was intensified right at the beginning of the advance near the Sudanese Chadian borders. MIG 29 and Antanov jet fighters hovered high and continued a bombing campaign that began on the 5/6th of May 08. Indiscriminate bombs fell in Dar Meidoub where score of JEM fighters resting under a tree were killed in Jebel Issa four days before the troops arrived at the gates of Omdurman. Among those killed in the air strikes were tough Arab fighters from Kordofan. Uncountable sorties in search of JEM forces taking refuge under the shrubs and the scattered trees in the desert did not deter against the rapid advance to the capital. The Antonov jet fighters nicknamed ‘Haj Waham’ which literally means ‘the deluded Hajji’ failed to scare JEM fighters and their morale did not implode. They managed to confuse the bombers by enforcing a ’blackout’. Car headlights, indicators and their windscreens had to be covered and tainted with mud or deliberately made out of order. All fighters had to change their colorful military turbans or berets into dark material. No cooking was allowed during the days or nights. Driving was done skillfully at nights without head lights on for hundreds of miles. Using torches was forbidden and was out of question.

The Sudanese ground forces met with some of JEM fighters in Jebal Markhiat west of Omdurman in fierce battle where the SAF were discomfited, dispersed and uncountable casualties were left dead or seriously wounded on the field before their feet took to the flight. For Mr. Natsios to imply that the route taken by JEM fighters was inhabited by Turabi or Sadiq Al-Mahdi’s supporters is not correct. The invading force avoided populated areas all through right to the gates of Omdurman. 22% of the invading force was from the wider ranges of tribes in Kordofan. Others came from rest of the regions including different of tribes from the North and Southern Sudan. From Drafur came the Fur, Massaleit, Gimmir, Erenga, Marareet, Meidoup, Zaghawa, Misseryia, Berti, Gimir and much more of the diverse tribes that specifically felt they suffered a lot at the hand of the government. It is therefore insulting to say that the force was made of 2000 Zaghawa fighters.

For security reasons, the GoS kept news of the advancing JEM until Thursday the 8th of May when the US Foreign Office made a call to JEM in London requesting to know why it had troops near to the Capital. The response was that JEM were everywhere on Sudanese soil free to redeploy forces as part of routine practice. Being of military background Mr. Natsios understands that during military campaign events weren’t always brought in news reports. The national TV and the media were also guilty of playing down the eminent threat until it was too late and JEM was inside Omdurman and Khartoum. Some were shocked when they saw the scale of the invasion reported by the media. The NISS who were brought to defend the regime went into disbelief and accused certain Western countries beside Chad and Libya of orchestrating and helping JEM. The SAF were not entrusted of counteracting JEM lest they stage a coup. The job was left for the NISS. Only 19 of JEM fighters were actually killed in the operation. Most of those captured or taken as POWs were killed in cold blood including Jamali Hassan Jallal Eldin who held the office of Presidential Affairs of the movement.

When the military campaign failed to force its way into Khartoum and the Palace the troops were ordered to re-gather and withdraw. Bashir’s position was left deeply wounded as he failed to crush the rebellion or break its spirits into oblivion. He was shocked by their resilience when he realized that they managed to safely disappear and return back to their bases. Although the military action had not suceeded to change the government, it nevertheless exposed the weakness of the regime and the rift between the army and the NISS. Vowing never to negotiate with JEM Bashir finally turned his attentions to the negotiating table.

There is a tendency to ignore JEM’s unique political identity and portray it as followers or allies of Turabi and his Congress Party (PC). The movement has no association whatsoever with any ideological group. Its objectives are clearly defined in its manifesto which can be checked in its official ‘sudanjem; website. The movement aims at creating a civic government where religion is taken out of politics. That puts it in contradiction with Turabi and his vision of theological rule.

We therefore challenge Mr. Natsios to bring evidence that JEM is associated with the PCP and its policies. JEM is fully supporting the South in its quest for self-determination earned through its long struggle for freedom and cemented in the CPA.

Finally, for Andrew Natsios to glamorize Bashir and the NCP to his audience that emerged consistently throughout his speech puts him under a lot of questions! That is why he was nervous to see someone taking notes of his views in Georgetown university hall.

The author is the Speaker of JEM/Legislative Assembly. He can be reached at tahirelfaki@yahoo.co.uk

Egypt is not just looking for Water!

By Justin Ambago Ramba

November 5, 2010 — Egypt’s role in the Sudanese affairs is quite a long one that carries with it a lot of bitter memories and is dissented across a wider section of the Sudanese population. Sudan’s ‘northern neighbour’ is both remembered as a collaborator of the imperialists during the colonial era [of the Turkey-Egyptian administration and later the Condominium Anglo – Egyptian rule] in the country. However it is the greed for the resources of its sub Saharan neighbours and as well as the continuing patronising attitudes that has put many at odds with this colonial expansionist. No great wonder that in south Sudan, the moment Egypt is mentioned, people’s minds immediately go to the Jonglei canal, the protest demonstrations of the early 1970s, and how the project has become a curse to talk about openly.

Nevertheless we are all aware that Egypt is not alone in these expansionist policies towards sub Saharan African, meant to pass through the land of south Sudan. Our oral and written histories have countless records on Egypt’s role in the slave trade and raids that ravaged the whole area. This will remain a hot issue in our relationships and the Egyptian leadership must prepare itself to give apologies and must rightly pay compensations to the relatives of the victims. However it seems that our people are meant to pass through yet difficult times and hurdles before we make our rightful presence felt along the Nile. If Egypt is suffering from collective amnesia, we are not.

it is true that it has taken too long before any south Sudanese ever puts it clear to the Egyptians that they are the main culprits in the difficulties facing our people today. It was the Egyptian throne that annexed south Sudan and Darfur to the present day Sudan, a move only justified by greed and pure colonial interests. And no wonder that they are still seen to play the role of the hand in the glove with their fellow Arabs of the riveran north Sudan in the joint ventures of Arabisation, Islamisation and the simultaneous dehumanisation and marginalisation of the indigenous black Africans.

Now we have been told that the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit has expressed fears that the referendum for south Sudan’s independence scheduled for 9th January 2011 could spark violence and a huge exodus of refugees.

“We fear separation may be accompanied by some violent actions that affect Sudan’s relations with neighbouring countries and Egypt, which circumstances may oblige to host Sudanese” fleeing unrest, the official Mena news agency quoted him as saying.

“This is matter of concern that requires adequate preparations,” he said.

In reality one puzzles at this monotonous statement that came from Egypt’s top diplomat. However the people of south Sudan are keen enough to read between the lines as to exactly what this Arab agent is up to. It is worth appreciating his recognition to the fact that the referendum is obviously leading to the independence of south Sudan. And this quite clearly underscores the main reason for his anxiety.

it is also true that over quite a long period of time that Egypt has hosted large numbers of Sudanese refugees who were made to flee their homes due to the so many political unrest that the country has to face as a consequence of a rotten policies in the centre, since a time immemorial. Even dating back to the colonial era many people declared by the rulers as persona non grata had always been exiled to Egypt and this later continued to include opposition leaders and ousted heads of the state etc. These were of course people who fled to Egypt with huge loots from the public coffers that the host is very happy to have. late ex-president Jaafar Nimeri and the late ex-head of the supreme council , Ali Mirghani and of course a countless other politicians from the old Sudanese Socialist Union [SSU] days to the current leaders of the Sudanese Sectarian parties and the drop outs from the Ingaz system of the NIF/NCP, all enjoyed and continue to enjoy refuge in Egypt.

But it is the other group of refugees that the Egyptian chief diplomat is worried of and they are the black Africans mainly from south Sudan, the Nuba Mountains and Darfur who fled their villages and towns due to the scorch earth campaign by the central government in Khartoum. However even this demography may not exactly represent the whole picture as Egypt was already in receipt of Sudanese nationals who fled the man-made floods in Wadi Halfa, when the High Dam was built . The sad outcome of this ambitious project was a great loss to the indigenous Nubian, land, people and civilization.

As I write hundreds of northern Sudanese continue to make it to Cairo on weekly basis and this has nothing to do with the north-south politics. So for the Egyptian top diplomat to conclude that the secession vote in the south would ultimately lead to an exodus of refugees is rather an over-reaction, because refugees from the Sudan had kept pouring into Egypt even when Sudan is still a united country.

Obviously when Abul Gheit refereed to the referendum and its obvious out-come as a matter of concern that requires adequate preparations, he wasn’t really doing his country’s diplomacy any favour. Does he need to remind that Egypt was part of the whole comprehensive peace agreement [CPA] which brought about the relative peace between the north and the south? Does he need to be reminded that the CPA also spelt very clearly the right of the people of south Sudan to self determination in the end of the six years? Why did Egypt accept to be a witness to this agreement and how comes that it failed to prepare his Arab fellows of northern Sudan to keep count of time and get prepared earlier?

Although one may have to say this every time an Arab spoiler comes up to say that the preparations for the referenda are behind schedule as if unaware of the evil intensions of their fellows in Khartoum, I will do it. Let Egypt be reminded for record that its fellows in northern Sudan and the dominant NIF/NCP of President Omer al Bashir have come out-openly on several occasions to say that they would do whatever it takes to abort the independence poll. Mr. Diplomat the issue at hand is that your Arab fellows, the northern Sudanese Arabs and their NIF/NCP regime do not have the political will to implement any agreement whatsoever the case.

Egypt of all countries should have understood better that the root causes of the Sudanese Political Crisis as a country, lies with its ruling elites of the Arab riverans who are not in any way willing to share power with the vastly marginalised Sudanese of the periphery. The solution thus lays in up-rooting this cancer that is right in the centre of the Sudanese politics-----yet they [Egypt] chose to turn a blind eye and do business as usual.

Abu Gheit has definitely gone on the offensive, and is doing his best to hatch the plan that the Arab League have laid down behind the closed doors..... a futile attempt to drown the south Sudan’s freedom. It is all in what he said:

“It is not a problem if the referendum is delayed for several months,” Mena quoted the Egyptian minister as saying. “Sudanese should take into account the priority of the importance of life over the importance of holding the referendum on time,” he said.

Now it can be seen that Egypt is desperately trying to dope the people of south Sudan into accepting second class citizenry ..........the importance of life, even if remaining in servitude. To the Arabs and Egypt is no exception, there is no importance in holding the referendum on time. Let us hope that south Sudan will find the forum to answer Abu Gheit and thank him for his concern over our lives. But as of now he needs to know that we would rather die standing on our feet than to continue to live on our knees. It is a problem to delay the referendum even for a day Mr. Abu Gheit.

In a similar development the Egyptian Foreign Minister was also quoted (MENA), as saying that his country had offered Sudan a "confederate" solution, but did not give details. This eventually reflects the fact how Egypt and the entire Arab world have chosen to live in denial in spite of the naked reality that south Sudan is determined to go its way and everything that is happening now are just formalities. The option of “Confederate system” has lost its appeal to the people of south Sudan. It was suggested in Abuja- Nigeria, by the former Nigerian leader Ibrahim Babangida, and although it received an acceptance from the SPLM/A - at that time, unfortunately it wasn’t favoured by Khartoum. Again it was turned down during the IGAD managed peace negotiations in Kenya. This was how the Right to Self Determination for south Sudan emerged as the only choice.

For the sake of simplicity my readers can do well to see the example of ‘Confederate Systems’ from the countries that practise it. Usually it is an arrangement between two or more independent countries that chose either for security [self defence] or economic reasons to confederate. Under such an arrangement the members usually share common economy, monetary system, defence and the foreign policy.

In these days when everybody seems to be saying something whether sensible or not, we have heard even some senior members of the south’s ruling SPLM party who were captured in the media stressing the need to maintain good links between the north and the south even following the inevitable secession. Such things are easily said than done, and nobody in their right state of mind can be deluded into believing that the NCP and the SPLM, who dramatically failed to create any harmony in the government of national unity [GoNU] over the last six, can miraculously turn around to make and run two confederate states.

Economic confederation needs trust and transparency, and although the test in our case was largely limited to the Oil revenues, it was enough to make a strong case where the South felt deceived in its share of the money. How do you expect this very people who will continue to rule on both sides of the divide to establish any functioning and viable unitary economy without trading accusations that can eventually lead to the same war that the Egyptians now claim to be worried of? Call it the war of resources and it can only be avoided by honouring treaties, but not pushing them under the carpet.

The other issues are the foreign policy and the defence. These two in the current Sudan are extremely difficult if not impossible to remain one due to sharp ideological differences between the two parts or even the ruling parties. The north and the NIF/NCP for that matter is bound to have an Arab and Islamic foreign policy and military, while the south and the SPLM will obviously maintain its secular , Pan African foreign policy and army. The contrast is clear and too vivid to be pushed under the carpet. Egypt cannot pretend, NOT to see all these.

Down the centuries African statesmen have cried out against their relationship with the Arabs. Worse still was the devastating rampage caused by the Arab slavers. About the year 1396, Uthman Biri Ibn Idris, King of Bornu the Bornu Empire (1396-1893) was a medieval African state of Nigeria from 1396 to 1893. It was a continuation of the great Kanem Empire founded centuries earlier by the Sayfawa Dynasty. In time it would become even larger than Kanem, incorporating areas that are today parts of Chad, Niger and Cameroon] in a letter to Sultan Barquq of Egypt, complained:

“We have sent you as ambassador my cousin, Idris Ibn Muhammad, because of the calamity we suffered. the Arabs who are called Judham and others have taken captives our free subjects ---women and children and old people, and our relatives, and other Muslims....these Arabs have harmed all our land, the land of Bornu, continually up to the present, and have captured our free subjects and relatives, who are Muslims, and are selling them to the slave-dealers in Egypt and Syria and elsewhere, and some they kept for themselves.”[Chinweizu- decolonising the African mind] .

When all these experiences are taken together, it is clear that, as far as Arabs are concerned, all may be equal in Islam, but blacks are decidedly less equal than Arabs and whites, and can be discriminated against, enslaved and even out-rightly cheated with clear Arab conscience.

The same is now being replicated in Darfur which was purely a black African and Muslim Sultanate and was invaded by this very Egypt who annexed it as a colony to the current Sudan. Today Darfur continues to bleed from this expansionist Arab campaign, but do we know what those who created the status quo are doing? Instead of helping in sorting out the Darfur conflict, Egypt has resorted to train its snipers using live bullets on unarmed Darfuris who are themselves victims of the state sponsored Egypt Arab Bedouins.

In light of all that we can better appreciate the following remark by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, [born on 21 July 1921 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is a Zulu Sangoma (traditional healer) and High Sanusi]: “I find it hard to understand the role the Arabs are trying to assume nowadays------the pose of spokesmen for the black people, and even that of liberators. It will take more than honeyed overtures of friendship to make us forget what the Arabs did to Africa.

Although we are made to think that Egypt is driven by its concerns about its Nile water rights in spite of the historical fact that it does not contribute even a single bucket of water to the Nile water, the realities on the ground are beginning to show just more than that. It is trying hard to make its presence felt in south Sudan by erecting some water and electricity projects and the state airline EgyptAir is expected to fly twice a week to the southern capital Juba. But to put it mildly, this North African giant looks much trapped in its past glories when it had control over south Sudan as part of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. We would appreciate if they limit their search to a quest for water. This they better do that without toeing the line as times have changed.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. He can be reached at either justinramba@doctors.org.uk or justinramba@aol.co.uk.