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March 2012 - Posts

A deadly game between Juba and Khartoum

By Ahmed El-Zobier

March 29, 2012 — Sudanese politics is an endless rollercoaster. Following a week of optimism after the visit of the SPLM delegation to Khartoum, signs of a breakthrough in the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan were evident. Al-Bashir agreed to visit Juba to finalize the agreement, and the war-mongering voices were livid but resigned to the fact that the curse of peace was imminent. However, the daydream was tragically ended after clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) were reported on Monday 26 March around the oil rich Heglig area in South Kordofan. As result, the meeting between Omer Hassan al-Bashir and Salva Kiir, scheduled for 3 April, has been cancelled or suspended by Khartoum.

The two Presidents were expected to sign the agreement at a summit in Juba before the end of the transition period on 8 April 2012. Instead, the government called for the mobilization of Jihadists. The war party seems joyful and victorious, the frog and scorpion syndrome[1] on the march, as SAF retaliated by bombing the oilfields in South Sudan’s Unity State. In view of the renewed hostility between the two states, hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese in Sudan could face an uncertain and precarious future.

The details of who started what, when and why remain sketchy. Khartoum blames the SPLM and Juba blames SAF; given their track records the credibility of both sides is certainly questionable. But one thing is more certain – if there is one military trick that Khartoum has mastered very well it is the engineering of scenarios similar to the Gleiwitz incident[2] which started the Second World War. Such pretexts for wars were repeated in Abyie, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and possibly now with South Sudan. In this context the ploy was designed to generate reaction from SPLA. In Khartoum those against the deal took their chance and gambled by bombing some areas inside South Sudan, however they got lucky this time as SPLA reacted; a sigh of relief could be heard inside Khartoum corridors of power, now it is easy for them to abort Addis Ababa Framework Agreement, they had halfheartedly pretended to accept.

But why? The Sudanese Government officially welcomed Addis deal that was signed between Khartoum and Juba on 14 March 2012. The key issue that was agreed upon is to regularize the status of nationals residing in both countries, including what is known as the four freedoms; movement, residence, ownership and work. However, many leading NCP figures have voiced their opposition to the deal in Addis Abba, and some give a different interpretation to it.

Meanwhile, Al-Intibaha, an anti-southern-Sudanese newspaper edited by Al Tayeb Mustafa, the uncle of the president, in particular attacked the deal aggressively. He wrote an article titled “Over Our Dead Bodies”, stating that, "If it was only one freedom we would refuse it, as it constitutes a huge danger to our national security, let alone four freedoms!"

Those who commented on his article online made even more vicious and ugly attacks. One of them wrote: "We could never bear to see a southerner hanging around in the North. We must form cells in each district to crush them. I will form cells in my neighborhood until we do not see one of them. We are able to annihilate them and southerners should know that and all those traitors who supported them." Another added: “I am waiting with some of my friends in the neighborhood for the end of April’s deadline, to clean the country from these cursed southerners. If God willing we will continue our plan, it does not matter how much freedom the government of humiliation will give them."

Another columnist named Saad Ahmed Saad used religion to justify his opposition to the deal and wrote: "The presence of a non-Muslim in the State of Islam has certain and specific conditions. It is either as a dhimmi (the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken”) or as one given refuge. Those taking refuge are not residents but transient. And southerners are not dhimmi or refugees so they are not entitled to these freedoms." Ishaq Fadllala, another prominent writer in Al-Intibaha wrote ominous warning, "One incident in Khartoum is enough to deport all southern Sudanese, those with or without nationality."

This newspaper is a reminder of Kangura magazine which was behind the genocide in Rwanda, even the name bears a menacing similarity. Al-Intibaha means "alertness or watchfulness" and the word Kangura mean "wake others up", i.e. make them alert. Kungara was financed by military officers, some ruling party members and an intelligence agency in Rwanda. Similarly, Al-Intibaha is financed by some members of the ruling party and possibly the intelligence agency, as well as the army.

Furthermore, on 16 March 2012 during Friday sermons across Khartoum, leading Imams attacked the agreement and the four freedoms. Meanwhile, on 17 March, SAF spokesperson issued a statement claiming that there was preparation to attack SAF in South Kordofan by the SPLA-N, with the support of South Sudan. According to this statement, such an act will annul all the agreements that were signed between the two countries, added the statement.

These are the forces against the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement and so far they seem to have succeeded in sabotaging it, as they did with the other Framework Agreement that was signed in Addis Ababa on 28 June 2011 between the NCP and the SPLM-N. And the war party continues to celebrate and sing, "let their blood be spilled, let all blood be spilled," and more graveyards promised for the helpless nations. But most people hope that reason, wisdom and rationality to overcome the current insanity.

1) As the story goes, the frog agreed to take the scorpion to the other side of the river but in the middle of the river the frog felt a sharp sting in his back and he said, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?”. The scorpion replied, "I could not help myself. It is my nature."

2) The Gleiwitz incident was staged against a German radio station by *** posing as Polish forces, on 31 August 1939.

The author  can be reached at ahmed.elzobir@gmail.com

Away from politics, a moment you don’t need to miss!!

By Daniel Abushery Daniel (USA)

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it eludes you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes and sits softly on your shoulder”. Said by Henry David Thoreau

If you’ve ever experienced in any of your school’s life that one of your parents, an uncle or an old cousin being your teacher, I have been in your shoes. To me, it was a living hell and a nightmare you don’t want to go through. At some point, I thought to myself that the experience was not a pleasant period of time to remember. But years later, I realised the importance of learning from our old folks. I soon found out that it was enjoyable and fruitful for our future.

Here’s why I first thoughts being a parent’s student was brutal:

In the class room, one had to make sure that you will be the first student to answer or solve any problem of any question in math. More so, you have to make certain that you attend each and every lesson he/she teaches during the academic year, in addition to the fact of the matter that you are, in truth, a student for all seasons. I remember thinking that the worst thing my father ever did was when he compelled me to take Islamic lessons! But then when I asked him why? His answer was; “you will know the answer later."

Yes, my daddy was absolutely right. Now, as it turned out, the Arabic language became my secondary language in which I’m quite fluent than any other languages including my mother tongue. Even though my name adds a different flavour to my complain, which is another ball park.

Our old folks were in the right side of the law to teach us to shy away from fights, if some bullies want to take it out side. They sincerely believed that it’s not good to be known as a bully or an annoying child among your peers, you will have less friends. For example in America; the parents usually teach their kids to walk away from fight in the schools or just report it to the authorities. Violating those simple rules comes with a huge consequence and price to pay at the end of the day.

Coming to current disarmament in Jonglei State:

Now, please allow me to shift gears to the dire security turmoil in one of the dear parts of the body of our country- Jonglie State. As I had mentioned it several times in my previous articles about the disarmament process that was carried out by the government of old Sudan in the wake of Addis- Ababa agreement in 1972, between the Anya nya one (gorilla fighters) and the Sudan arms forces (SAF), which took place (the disarments) in Dinka, Nuer, and Murle communities in the same region. The process was let by two notorious officers, who later became members and the founding fathers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M). Those officers were: comrades Karbino K. Bol and William N. Bany respectively. It’s important to note that the disarmament went on smoothly, and no community that took it upon itself to suggest that the government had targeted them over other communities. It was comprehensive, and for security purposes only.

Here to the point: my humble advice to all communities in Jonglei State, and any community involved to be calm, cooperative, and allow the process to move forward smoothly. As citizens, we have a responsibility to uphold the law of the land, and the directive orders of the President, Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Chief of staff of our Army 1st Lt. General James Hoth. It’s in best interest of the country that arms are only in the hands of law enforcement agencies not individual civilians.

Again, let us make a conscious effort to the call of vice president Dr. Riek Machar two weeks ago to the Lou Nuer, Murle, and on all citizens of Jonglei State to submit and turn in their guns to the authorities without resistance. I hope that call should be respected as well, because the people need to live in a secure environment for the much needed development to happen all across the state.

At this juncture, how could I forget to thank the state’s Governor, comrade; Koul Manyang Juuk, for his commitment to the cause, and for being a role model in becoming the first citizen to obey the disarmaments orders by giving up his riffles.

Let’s obey our fathers, our representatives, and our leaders of today, and above all, our government.

You don’t need to fight to proof that you are a man.

This is my perspective.

The author is a concerned citizen of South Sudan, living in USA, and can be reached at nyang19@yahoo.com or ddaniel575@yahoo.com

Obituary : Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud

By Ahmed El Zobier

March 25, 2012 — Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, the Secretary General of the Communist Party died on 22 March 2012, at age of 82 in London after long struggle with illness. He had suffered from brain tumor that was become difficult to remove surgically. Mr. Nugud was born in 1930 in Al Qitaina town south of Khartoum, and studied at Hantoub high secondary school, during his school period his colleagues including the late Sudan’s president Jaafar Numiri and the current Popular Congress Party leader Hassan al Turabi. He was admitted to Khartoum University in early 1950s, but dismissed for his political activities and then completed his studies in Czechoslovakia.

Nugud has been involved in politics since the early 1950s and has spent almost all his political career working underground. Following the Aboud regime (1958–64) he was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1965. He was appointed general secretary of the party after the failure of a counter coup d’état by communist officers in 1971, as result its leader Abd al-Khaliq Mahjub executed by Numiri’s regime. He then went into hiding from 1971 to 1985, and was arrested in 1989. In 1990 he was released under house arrest until 1994 and then again went into hiding till 2005.

After the 1985 uprising, the party introduced this new political leader for the first time in a rally at Khartoum University; many people admired his political humor, wit and self-effacement. Mr. Nugud was elected as Member of Parliament in 1986 representing Al Amarat & Aldiem constituency in Khartoum. His parliamentary performance was mesmerizing and amusing and people still remember his first statement about the Sudan budget, when he dissected with endearing Sudanese proverbs and anecdotes the proposed budget by Al Sadig Al Mahadi’s Government. He is known to be a pragmatic and shrewd political operator.

To his credit this veteran political leader proved to be an astute political survivor and is largely responsible, and of course with his party colleagues, for the Communist Party still being an integral part of the country’s political map. Although suffering from an ever-dwindling membership since 1989 the Party has earned the respect of the Sudanese in general and the other Sudanese political parties. The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) that was founded in 1946, despite the elements remain one of the two most influential in Africa along with the South African Communist Party.

Many political leaders paid their respect to Mr Nugud, Kamal Omer from the Popular Congress Party described him as one of the greatest political leaders in Sudan, he pointed out that the secretary of the Communist Party through his wisdom was able to forge special relationship with the leader of the Popular Congress Party Dr. Hassan al-Turabi since the days of high secondary school, he managed in the last few years to reduce the hostility between the Islamists and the Communists, despite their ideological differences. Al Sadiq Al Mahidi, the Umma party leader said that Nugud’s departure left the country in desperate need for his wisdom. The National Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson describes him as a national figure that had contributed to the course of national struggle. The Democratic Unionist Party leader Ali Hussanien said he will be remembered as the champion of the oppressed.

The communist party announced yesterday that in 9 am on Sunday morning, the funeral procession will move from his home to the Communist Party headquarter office in Khartoum (2) and from there followed by a silent procession to Farouk cemetery to bury his body.

In personal note, I had interviewed Mr. Nugud for Sudan Tribune back in 2007, I was struck by his down-to-earth humility, the ability to distill complex ideas into simple explanations. His sense of Sudanese political history was unparallel, as someone witnessed the darkest and tragic moment of his party’s history in 1971 he remained hopeful. His answers were always papered with anecdotes enveloped in his unique endearing sense of humor. May his soul Rest in Peace.

The author can be reached at ahmed.elzobir@gmail.com

Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud: A Sudanese communist

By Magdi El Gizouli

March 23, 2012 — Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud (b. 1930), the Political Secretary of the Communist Party of Sudan (CPS), passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 82 in London where he was seeking medical attention. Nugud learned the skills of dodging the punitive apparatus of the state early in his life. He was dismissed in 1952 from the University College Khartoum and incarcerated a whole year for his role in a wave of popular demonstrations against British colonial rule. Upon his release Nugud fled Sudan in disguise to continue his studies in Sofia University, Bulgaria, where he earned a degree in philosophy. He returned to the country in 1958 to become a full time political agitator in the ranks of the CPS battling the military dictatorship of General Abboud (1958-1964). Nugud spent the year 1961 in the prisons of Malakal and Juba for his political activities.

Following the victory of the 1964 Revolution Nugud was elected a member of parliament in 1965 on a CPS ticket, but was expelled from the house together with the eleven other communist MPs only months later. In November 1965 the parliament voted to ban the CPS and dismiss its elected representatives from the house in an episode of unconstitutional political malice orchestrated by Hassan al-Turabi and his associates in the Islamic Charter Front (ICF). Wary of the accelerating influence of the CPS, considering its decisive role in the 1964 Revolution and the political clout it reaped from the victory, the two sectarian parties, the Umma and the Unionists, backed Turabi in his pledge and delighted in seeing the CPS reduced once again to an illegal organisation.

Unknowingly, the political parties invited upon themselves a greater evil than the one they thought they had dispelled by banning the CPS. Jaafar Nimayri, the Nasser styled Free Officer, justified his putsch of May 1969 with the claim of defending the progressive gains of the 1964 Revolution against the forces of reaction. Nugud was to say the least well informed of Nimayri’s plans, as was the CPS. The party welcomed the 1969 putsch but refused to grant it the stature of a revolution. Several communist officers sat on Nimayri’s Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) but the CPS under Abd al-Khalig Mahjoub preferred to maintain its autonomy from the regime, a decision that did not find Soviet favour. During the year 1970 the CPS split into two, a faction that chose to dissolve in the regime’s newly established one party, the Sudan Socialist Union, and a majority that backed Abd al-Khalig’s autonomic position. Nimayri eventually dismissed the communist officers in the RCC and they responded with a coup attempt, the 19 July 1971 Corrective Movement. Following two days of military confrontations in the capital Nimayri returned victorious in a counter-coup and the communists were defeated. A bloody period of vendetta followed. Nimayri ordered the execution of the CPS top leadership including the political secretary Abd al-Khalig Mahjoub, and the officers involved in the context of a wide anti-communist purge. Nugud escaped Nimayri’s wrath in hiding together with several other leading figures of the party. He was then picked as Abd al-Khalig’s successor, a position that he occupied until his death this Thursday. Nugud became the master of clandestine activity; he emerged from the underground in 1985 upon the collapse of Nimaryi regime to lead the CPS through the parliamentary period that lasted only four years. He was elected as a MP representing al-Diem, the Khartoum constituency where a woman was recently killed by the aggressive Public Order Police.

When al-Bashir took over power in the 1989 putsch Nugud was incarcerated together with other prominent politicians in Cooper Prison and then placed under house arrest. He escaped his captors and slipped into hiding until early 2005. The Sudan that Nugud re-surfaced in was not the country he had experienced before. The challenge that faced him as political secretary of the CPS in the 2000s was much more formidable than his first test of endurance, the task of rebuilding the CPS following its debilitating confrontation with Nimayri’s regime. From the 1969-1971 setback Nugud drew the conclusion that the struggle for socialism in the conditions of Sudan must complement rather than negate the achievements of liberal democracy. His insights and the direction he devised for the party helped restore the democratic credentials of the CPS as it were. When the CPS re-emerged in 2005 from years of exile activity and clandestine agitation inside the country against the regime of President Bashir, thanks to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the situation had changed radically and was not anymore graspable with the simplistic opposition between dictatorship and parliamentary democracy. The CPS formula for change, restoration of the democratic order through a broad political alliance as a condition for the pursuit of a global solution for Sudan’s multiple crises, put it in one boat with the mainstream parties of the Khartoum establishment including Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) but did not deliver, a shortcoming of the party’s strategy that Nugud well recognized.

Nugud was a sharp intellectual well versed in Marxist classics and the literature of Eurocommunism. He agreed with many of Althusser’s theses and was a great admirer of the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm. Among his intellectual accomplishments is a pioneering book on the relations of slavery in Sudan. Before his death Nugud embarked on two research topics, the evolution of the Sudanese state, and the historical role of Sufi brotherhoods in Sudan. The thorough analysis of these three institutions, slavery, the state, and Sufi brotherhoods, he considered instrumental in understanding the historical trajectory of the country. I recall long evenings of conversation with him on these issues, discussions that he preferred over the persistent occupation with current politics. With his death the CPS has lost its leader, the Sudan a politician and an intellectual of calibre, and I personally a mentor and a friend.

The author is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He publishes regular opinion articles and analyses at his blog Still Sudan. He can be reached at m.elgizouli@gmail.com

Sudan’s National Congress Party Government- Baseless and Pointless!

“If the government upped left today no one in Sudan will even notice it’s gone!

By Namaa Faisal AL Mahdi

March 23, 2012 (LONDON) - At around midday of last Tuesday, the Sudanese cyberspace screeched with pain and grief- to the shocking news of the sudden death of Sudanese peoples’ poet Mohammed Hassan Salim Humeed. The people’s overwhelming expression of shock and grief was met with a deafening State television and State radio news silence, the poet’s funeral that evening was none the less attended by thousands upon thousands of mourners who lined the streets leading to his burial grounds and covered the landscape chanting his famous words “Freedom, Peace, Freedom” whilst his body was being laid in its final resting place.

The people’s poet who was denied a well deserved State funeral was buried honourably by the people he loved and who loved him back. His death -the result of inter-city road accident makes him yet another victim of one of the National Congress Party’s badly constructed and planned inter-city roads, Tayar al Shamal.

Newspaper bulletins covering deadly inter and intra-city road accidents harvesting the lives of many have almost become a daily feature.

Almost a month ago, the death of Sudan’s most famous singer Mohammed Osman Wardi was met with similar, cyber space and people’s grief and equal State media and government’s silence.

The National Congress Party government is not only –totally- disconnected with the peoples’ grief and anguish, they are also in denial of their primary role as a- government –whose main responsibility is to provide rights to the people of Sudan. Since their coming to power in a coup which toppled a people’s elected government in 1989, human rights violations have become the norm, forced army subscription of youth and children as well as running a very oppressive National Intelligence and Security Service, renowned for their abduction and arbitrary imprisonment and torture of anyone who opposes them. Many of these incidents of grave human rights violations went unreported because of fear and or as a result of tight State control of the media and people’s lack of awareness of their basic rights.

Since 1989 the State has almost privatised all public services including basic health services and the police, in 2006 I was charged 7 Sudanese Ginah to be issued a personal loss police report. Indeed cash payment windows exist in almost every government building which includes hospitals where citizens have to pay a fee just to enter through the main gates.

The recent emergence of alternative media news sites such as Sudaneseonline, Hurriyat and Alrakoba as well as facebook and twitter have been very effective in bringing out some of these seemingly endless human rights violations committed by the government and its officials against the people of Sudan -to national as well as international audiences. Human Rights Watch report of 2012 reported that Sudan’s rights records have deteriorated with the renewed conflict in mid 2011- this wave of human rights violations is continuing despite President Omar Bashir’s promise on the Sudan Independence Day celebration speech to uphold human rights.

Since the beginning of 2012 there has been a stream of reports of injuries and deaths from the war zone of Southern Kordofan State as a result of innocent civilian targeting by the Sudanese Armed Forces, most probably - to force out rebel Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army members out of their villages, this- as well as the government’s stand off against allowing international humanitarian aid into the conflict ravaged region, could result in a compounded case of human rights violations against the government. Excessive State police, militia and army use of force to oppress peaceful protests in Nyala (24th, 25th and 26th of January 2012) left an 18 year old student dead, 33 seriously injured and many more students and youths detained in prisons and or their whereabouts unknown.

There were also Arbitrary State arrests, detentions and psychological torture of youth group members Girifna and Youth for Change on the 25th January. State police raids, abduction and detention of hoards of students- who were arrested from within the university buildings- at Omdurman Al Islamiya University, Khartoum State on the 26th of January, at Imam el Mahdi University, at White Nile State on the 7th February and an early before dawn raid and mass arrests of students from Khartoum University, Khartoum State on the 17th February. On the 5th March State community police shot in cold blood el Deem resident Ms Awodiya Ajabana, the case of cold blooded murder went on to provoke mass media and public outrage.

Since the beginning of the year, four newspapers have been forced to shut down; others such as AL Median have had their daily printed issues confiscated fresh off the print. Al Tayar newspaper was allowed to resume printing following a promise to fire a leading staff member; this was later revoked for an unexplained reason, whilst Alwan was also allowed to resume with the complete ban of two Journalists Isam Ibraim and Mojahid Abdalla.

The government by law collects taxes and a 10% VAT on refined goods and services as well as taxes on communication and the internet but does not, on the other hand, provide tax paid public services, with an allocated annual governmental budget of less than 1.2% for all of education, health and income generating activities such as farming and enterprise- this is hardly surprising.

The bulk of governmental services (health, education, food, clean water, protection, income and shelter) to the lowest income groups which make up 46.5% of the Sudan’s population, according to UNDP 2010 figures- are provided by the International and national NGOs.

The NGOs are indeed doing the bulk of the government’s work; therefore if it suddenly disappears no one in their right mind will miss it and its oppressive police, security and army.

The government’s only public role, apart from oppressing the people - seems to be imposing excessive taxes, VAT and to operate the endless cycle of civil of wars. I assume if the rebel movements now suddenly put down their guns and stopped fighting the government will have nothing to do and no reason to exist.

On the 3rd of February, on a nationally televised interview- the President of the Republic of Sudan announced -without any hesitation, that he and his administration, set up a Wide Based Government- formed in collation and participation of over 14 non-elected political parties and movements to gain –peoples’ acceptance!

I assumed that the government’s indicator of the level of people’s acceptance would have been result of the 2010 Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections, held from 11th April to 15th of April where Bashir’s National Congress Party was declared the winner by receiving 68.24% of the votes.

This is a clear, outright- declaration by the President of the country that his government lacks- Peoples’ Acceptance.

I assumed that the government’s indicator of the level of people’s acceptance would have been results of the 2010 Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections, held from 11th April to 15th of April where Bashir’s National Congress Party was declared the winner by receiving 68.24% of the peoples’ votes. I assumed the elections results were a very important indicator of peoples’ acceptance and or lack of- in this case obviously not!

In this case- the elections results mean Nothing -otherwise why would the President dissolve an “elected” government to bring in 14 non elected political parties and to create one of Sudan’s largest governments since independence?

The secession and separation of South Sudan and its representatives cannot be used to justify the size and the content of the current Sudan’s government- with a “64%” majority win; one would expect the NCP to have sufficient people elected members of Majalas to fill the 27% gap created by the withdrawal of Southern Sudan’s SPLM party.

Thus, I pose the question- what is the point of this National Congress Party led Government of Sudan??

The writer is a London-based Sudanese activist. She can be reached at namaa09@hotmail.com

Sudanese regime is poised to set 20th March for trial of Darfur POWs

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

March 21, 2012 — It has come in the news media that as of Tuesday March the 20th 2012 the Kangaroo courts presided by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Judges will be putting into retaliatory trial a group of Commanders belonging to the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), among them lieutenant general Ibrahim al-Maz Deng and his gallant colleagues who had been captured during the battle between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the troops of the Movement last year. The planned trial in the inquisition courts owned by the National Congress Party (NCP) led by the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted fugitive Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir its result a foregone conclusion.

The security apparatus in the Islamist National Congress Party Regime in Sudan will not hesitate to issue unfair rulings against these war prisoners in blatant contravention to all the international conventions, agreements and laws. Not long ago, the very courts passed death sentence on the prisoner of war, Commander General El-Tom Hamid Tutu Malik on 6th February 2012. As this would amount to "a human rights scandal", Amnesty International is expected to launch another emergency campaign to highlight the situation in Sudan in respect to the upcoming trial of the POWs related to the crisis in the Darfur region.

This is in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. This group of individuals is Prisoners of war whose Movement has been recognized by the National Congress Party (NCP) government and negotiated with at the Qatari capital Doha Forum for reaching a sustainable peace in Darfur. It is obvious and needless to reiterate the fact that Combatants who fall into the hands of any of the parties, Government of Sudan (GoS) or Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) would be «Prisoners of war» in accordance with international norms and conventions; and none of the two parties is entitled to bring them to trial regardless of the form or nature of the Court. In the circumstances, it is expected that the Kangaroo Court will hand death sentence to each of the prisoners of war by the same known ‘High Court Judges’ who would submit their verdict to the ICC indicted Génocidaire, NCP President Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, to sign it within two months ratifying execution.

Urgent appeal is to save the lives of the Prisoners Of War who have been captive in the infamous ghost houses of the Sudan’s National Congress Party regime. The Sudanese people Appeal and call on humanitarian organizations and international human rights organizations to immediately intervene to save the lives of lieutenant general Ibrahim al-Maz Deng and his comrades before the blood thirsty vampires in the despotic NCP regime of committing their atrocious crimes. On the other hand, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) warn the government of Sudan (GoS) for bearing full criminal responsibility if it launches harm on the lives of its Prisoners of War. Retribution will be immediate and would apply to the perpetrators of heinous crime.

Together on the path of revolutionary struggle until victory is achieved in all parts of Sudan through bring down corrupt regime of the National Congress Party.

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com

Sudan Change Now Open Letter to George Clooney

Dear Mr. George Clooney,

We are very pleased to see the efforts that you are exerting in internationally exposing the injustices happening in Sudan today and in the past years. We know the importance of getting international figures on the side of justice as crucial players in bringing issues of injustice to the global debates. We would like to thank you for these efforts and commend your lobbying within the US and abroad. As advocates for peace, democracy and justice in Sudan, we would like to share our concerns and suggestions on the way in which your important advocacy work on Sudan is being conducted.

We write you this letter on behalf of many Sudanese people among some of which are activists today working hard on the ground to expose the terrible violations that are being imposed on our people in all regions of Sudan by the current government. As you know, there are various agendas and politics involved under the guise of humanitarian calls for action and there are also wonderful and transparent efforts being tainted by such negative perceptions. We would like to make sure that people like you are part of the more positive, fair, truthful and proactive symbols of justice for the country.

Sudan Change Now is a young Movement comprised of people who have decided to transcend this cycle of politics and power struggles and really work on the ground for democratic change. Our members work on advocacy and mobilization in Khartoum and other regions as well. We think that the disconnection between the Khartoum center and the rest of the country (especially in conflict areas such as Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur) is a serious obstacle to holistic change in the country. We believe that crossing the regional boundaries within the country will ensure that when change does happen it will be a nationwide one that caters for all. We fully understand that the struggles vary immensely but we also know that we are still one nation and we would like to maintain that unity. With the separation of the South as a constant reminder of our failure to ensure change before it was too late, we are determined to show that we all suffer tremendously from the current regime and have been suffering for decades now as a people with various identities, religious backgrounds and ethnicities.

Sudan Change Now stands firm in support of the people of Sudan regardless of race, ethnicity, tribal, religious or gender backgrounds. Sudan Change Now asks that you kindly support us in showing a more comprehensive picture of the conflicts in the country with an understanding of the complexities as well as the terrible conditions that many face throughout Sudan. Portraying the regional conflicts in the country as a simplified war of Arabs and Africans concerns us. It does not fully capture the historical and political aspects of the conflict considering that the Sudanese government is a dictatorship and does not reflect the sentiments of the majority of the people. The regional conflicts in Sudan are not simple and are highly political with a strong basis on economic gains such as oil and other resources. Sudan Change Now knows that the unfortunate truth in such politicized strife is that innocent people fall victims and very little is done to protect them. Our Movement has worked hard with other activists who have been advocating and repeatedly protesting against the conflicts and atrocities in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. With many arrested and exposed to serious security threats by the Sudanese forces as a result. We would like to make it clear that the actions of the Sudanese Armed Forces in the country and the NCP led regime are not representative of the people of Sudan. We believe that there is an urgent need for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Sudan and that the killing of innocent civilians must immediately stop.

We believe that any nation has the right to fight for its own causes and that all citizens should be able to take ownership of their struggle for justice and peace. We would like to solidify our efforts in ensuring that our country peacefully undergoes a democratic transformation, ensuring that justice does prevail and that all citizens of Sudan are able to lead a dignified and protected life. We believe that this should be ideally done by the Sudanese themselves who are the most affected by the situation and understand the complexities of the problems as well as the most suitable solutions. However, we know that the repressive political climate in Sudan makes it difficult for the voices of those opposing the government to be fully heard and we count on international advocacy figures to support us in getting those voices heard and ensuring that the language of dichotomies is used carefully and responsibly when portraying conflicts.

We write this letter as part of our newly launched campaign of “Not in Our Name” which aims to portray to the world the unrelenting and repressed local resistance against the current regime that has been happening for years now within Sudan. In order to fully support the cause of the Sudanese victims of war, we urge you to engage with the many Sudanese in Sudan and abroad to share their relevant experiences and opinions on how they perceive the problems and solutions of the terrible conflicts in their country. The campaign aims to allow the voices of Sudanese (from all regions) resisting the current regime to be heard internationally and to announce its rejection of all violations that have been occurring under this terrible dictatorship for more than two decades now.

The Message of “Not in Our Name” is: Our Struggles are one and we the people of Sudan shall be heard. On behalf of the Sudanese people, Sudan Change Now says No to War, No to Oppression, No to Human Rights Violations and Marginalization, No to Racism and Tribalism, No to Poverty and No to Atrocities in Sudan.

The Sudan Change Now Movement can be contacted at sudanchangenow@gmail.com or on facebook and twitter @Sudanchangenow.

Sudan Change Now was established in 2010 and describes its mission as: ’Toppling the regime and establishing a plural civil and democratic alternative.’

Arrest of Clooney over Sudan 'may make things worse'

Jared Ferrie

JUBA : Only a true cynic could doubt actor George Clooney's commitment to stopping a humanitarian crisis after he was arrested on Friday in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington.

But some aid workers said his recent approach to raising awareness about attacks against civilians in Sudan may actually undermine efforts to improve the situation.

Mr Clooney was back in the US after visiting a war-ravaged Sudanese state and a refugee camp across the border in South Sudan. His arrest came after days of media events, as well as the release of a video filmed in the conflict area and posted by the advocacy group Enough Project.

Some critics, however, questioned the timing of the media blitz. They pointed out that it began amid sensitive negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan over a host of issues outstanding since the south declared independence last July. Tension between the two has simmered since then, sometimes exploding into conflict along an ill-defined border.

"When you have interference which isn't timed well, which doesn't take into account the very sensitive process of negotiation, it can derail things," said one aid worker. "It can end up doing exactly what I'm sure the celebrity is trying not to do, which is to make things worse."

Mr Clooney's arrest came after he met Barack Obama, the US president, last week, testified in the US senate and attended a state dinner for David Cameron, Britain's prime minister.

The Oscar-winning actor, who has long been a prominent activist critical of the Khartoum government, was arrested along with his father and several members of Congress after being warned not to cross a police line outside the embassy. He was released several hours later after paying a US$100 (Dh367) fine.

The protesters accuse Omar Al Bashir, Sudan's president, of provoking a humanitarian crisis and blocking food and aid from entering the Nuba Mountains in the county's border region with South Sudan.

John Prendergast, who founded Enough and travelled with Mr Clooney, said they supported the peace process between the countries. But he said the Sudanese government must be held accountable for atrocities, regardless of the timing of the talks.

"That is separate from the fact that the regime in Khartoum is using starvation as a weapon and bombing its own citizens," he told The National yesterday. "We will continue to shine a spotlight on those war crimes until they end."

Key to that strategy of putting atrocities in the spotlight was the release on Thursday of a four-minute video written and directed by Mr Clooney, which follows him into the Nuba Mountains where the government has been bombing civilians in its fight against insurgents. It's a region US officials have said could soon suffer food shortages.

But observers of the conflict said the video provides a simplistic analysis, portraying the rebels as heroes in a conflict about lighter-skinned Arabs killing black Africans, in the words of one rebel interviewed by the filmmakers. The reality is more complicated, they said.

"It is a fundamentally political conflict," said Casie Copeland, an adviser with Pact, a Washington-based peace-building organisation. "They are not fighting simply because they are different races. They are fighting because of a host of political grievances."

Mr Prendergast said the focus of the video was the day-to-day life of the people.

"Causes can be debated by outsiders, but the video attempted to capture the sentiment of local people who are being bombed on a daily basis and see the immediate cause as being one of ethnic targeting," he said. "The video attempts to portray the reality of what life is like for the people of the Nuba Mountains."

Ms Copeland also accused the filmmakers of ethical violations -in particular an interview with a boy who has had both hands blown off. She said the segment, which focused on the boy's bloody stumps as a rebel soldier stood in the background, could jeopordise the child's safety. The clip was removed from the video soon after The National submitted questions about its ethics.

"It violates the human rights of that boy, so for an NGO that claims to be promoting human rights I think it's really problematic," said an aid agency employee.

Mr Clooney's conduct during his stay in the refugee camp has also sparked anger. After hearing that the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was considering providing residents with half a month's rations rather than a full month's, he berated a UNHCR official publicly, according to witnesses.

"I think we all appreciate when someone that commands the attention of the world draws attention to the suffering and the plight of people who very often get forgotten," said an aid worker.

"I think where it's not so useful is when someone who doesn't really understand what we're trying to do comes in and starts offering unsolicited advice about how the programme should go."

Mireille Girard, UNHCR's representative in South Sudan, said that the agency had no intention of withholding food permanently. Rather, officials had been discussing whether to provide half rations immediately and the other half later.

She said tensions along the border were building and the agency was concerned that refugees might have to flee and could be reluctant to do so if they had a full month's rations, which they would not be able to carry with them.

Why critics of Invisible Children 2012 Campaign to stop LRA’s Joseph Kony miss the point

By Steve Paterno

March 12, 2012 — The Invisible Children is an advocacy group, which has been in existence for the last nine years,with the aim to stop the atrocities of Uganda’s LRA rebels. The organization just released a campaign film, “Kony 2012,” to create global awareness that will eventually lead to the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony and disarmament of his rebel group.

Just moments within its release, the web based film went viral over the Internet, instantly reaching millions of viewers from around the world and hitting the major news outlets like never before. The film also immediately drew criticism from within some circles. However, almost all the criticism leveled against the film and Invisible Children tactics are missing the point.

First and for most, the Kony2012 campaign film is right by focusing and targeting Joseph Kony individually to be arrested, at least by the year 2012. Kony is not just an average ordinary rebel leader, but he is also an internationally wanted fugitive who has an outstanding arrest warrant against him for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Kony’s survival lies in his ability to maintain his followers around his cult personality. His followers believe he is somehow possessed by holy ghost. Kony single handedly acts as the catalyst that ensures the cohesion of the rebel movement and propels their atrocities. To his cult followers, Kony is a messianic figure, albeit with demonic qualities. Therefore, a removal of Kony from the battlefield, dead or alive, can certainly guarantee an end to LRA rebellion and their atrocious history.

Secondly, even if the LRA rebels are currently not operational in Northern Uganda, it should not mean that the advocacy groups in the position of Invisible Children should not pursue this issue with the same fervor in a similar case if the rebels were to be operational in Uganda. More importantly, highlighting the atrocities the LRA committed in Northern Uganda like the Kony 2012 campaign film captured, should not be misconstrued as out of context and inaccurate portrayal of the situation, especially if the aim of the film is to create awareness to the audience who never heard of LRA before.

There are important facts the critics who advance the argument that the LRA is a spent force, simply because they are out of Ugandan borders ought to be made aware of. In the first place, Joseph Kony is indicted for the crimes he already committed, not the ones he has not committed yet. So, wherever he is, he needs to be detained. The effort to stop him sooner than later, goes a long way to prevent his future actions. Hence, it is essential in the effort to apprehend Kony that all are to be reminded of LRA’s brutalities; past, present, and future potential, just as it is portrayed in the Kony 2012 campaign film. Second, even though the LRA are currently not operational in Northern Uganda, the group still remains mainly of Ugandan origin and is firmly intact. Perhaps those critics who believe that the LRA is a spent force, simply because they are out of Uganda need to be reminded that the group actually becomes a much bigger regional threat that continues with the routine looting, kidnapping, rapping, and killing of innocent lives in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. It may be true the life in Northern Uganda returns to normal, but not in areas currently affected by LRA and those captives under their custody, who by the way include Ugandans.

Besides, the aim of the group to wage the war in Uganda never changed one iota, and the group is doing everything in its powers in trying to stay alive. For the group, the move farther from Ugandan borders, even though done under pressure, serves as a tactical withdrawal, while the group buys all the time it gets. Third, it is a culmination of mounted pressure such as the one exerted by Kony 2012 campaign film, which in part drove the LRA out of Ugandan borders. If anything, such pressure must be sustained, not just to keep the LRA off the Ugandan borders, but to also ultimately end their insurgency completely.

Thirdly, the Afrocentric criticism that the campaign to stop LRA atrocities should not be spearheaded by foreigners from abroad, because it portrays a negative impression of Africans not capable of solving their problems and that such effort imposes foreign solutions to African problem is just a lame excuse motivated by empty ideological pride. First, the effort to stop the LRA menace requires multiple pressures exerted by multiple actors, from within Africa and from without. Kony 2012 campaign film is one among many of such required strategies and it does not in any way stop those who think they also have better solutions to the problem from executing their plans. Otherwise, the burden of proof remains with those critics to yet come up with their better solutions to the problem.

It is ironic that those critics select to selfishly own the problems that they are yet to resolve, while trying to downplay an effort that shines light to the atrocities of LRA and creates empathy to their victims on a global scale. The fact that the LRA has been in existence over the last two decades should serve as a stark reminder for those Afrocentric critics that the problem has developed beyond Africans ability to resolve. Second, it is none other than an African country in the name of Uganda, which referred the LRA case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution, hence, internationalising the issue.

Not only that, the LRA activities affects more than five countries of Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and the Sudan, making the situation a regional one and by default an international concern. The United Nations is already involved and so are other countries like the US, which deployed troops on the ground.

It is an acknowledged fact that the LRA issue is a complex one, which requires complex solution.Therefore, Kony 2012 campaign film is one such great effort toward better solution for the problem. Let all those who are concerned join in the effort, in whatever ways they see fit rather than trying to thwart an already successful campaign that shines light into Joseph Kony and can potential lead into his demise.

Because of the Kony 2012 campaign film, millions of people of good will are now know of who Kony is and the evil he represents. Kony himself is aware that the focus is zoomed on him. Evil thrives better in an environment of darkness, silence, isolation, and secrecy, but with such sustained pressure and focus, Kony will be caught, dead or alive, and that will mark an end to the LRA atrocities and a new chapter for recovery for the enduring victims.

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

Why South Sudan must revert to unitary system opposed to federalism

By Isaiah Abraham

March 9, 2012 — The Republic of South Sudan (RSS) like any other newly created country in any other part of the world is grappling as to what system of governance to adapt and why. Since its independence few months ago, the country has formed a constitutional writing body. A highly touted team headed by a law professor has wasted no time, but embarked on a mission of soliciting ideas internally and from different part of globe. Couples of days ago, a renowned Kenyan professor (Professor Yal Phal Ghai) well vested in this field had lectured to the Committee Members about challenges facing the process and tips on what they should be doing in there.

There has been some furor of activities and wild schedules by the same team; however, people have started to raise questions as to why the team has kept this important exercise in secrecy. There is no forums for the public to debate things more constructively.

There is what is known here as Transitional Constitution of the Republic South Sudan in which ashes people are trying to either build from it or do away with it altogether. The problem again in this part of the world, the employer has shown more than once that everything must be done on his/their dictating terms, a worrying trend indeed. Generally, the ruling party in the South will love to have its interests written more expansively on the expense of objectivity or what doesn’t work.

Someone must allow us to play on the level ground. We must be players in this constitution if we truly plan to have a meaningful country where each of our members shall feel part of the whole. The constitution this country wants must be inclusive, participatory and democratic, unless we build on a document that shall be a source of an ending crisis. Bad legal matters are proven deadly. Some countries in fact keep on amending their constitutions every time, to accommodate new realities facing them. In our context we got to do away with some poor jurisprudence foundation, they will never helped matters but worsen our socio-economic and political situations.

Given experiences from our situation in the past seven years, we must pause and see whether there is a need to continue with our presence laws or expunge some flawed clauses in their total or in pieces. The latter should be the way forward. People aren’t prepare to have another trouble political circumstance where issues to do with stability, peace, development and unity are endangered. In my best judgement, the Transitional Constitution isn’t that entirely bad; the issue is the unsettled status of unitary or federal arrangements in our system.

Somewhere we find our system favouring federalism or whatever we are using now, and at some point, this is where we have unknowingly or knowingly mess things up. We must jump out from the fire before things become nasty. I see our current federalism fragile and source of crisis and this is how: federalism yeah could be good due to its relevance to specific needs of the local people, and it encourages creativity and innovation. But the same system (Federalism) is found out to be complicated and confused, expensive, duplicative, and anti unity. Sometime under federalism, corruption is difficult to detect as there are many layers of governments. It doesn’t eliminate poverty.

On the big matters of unity and harmony, federalism puts things asunder. In Juba few days ago, over six people were killed over land disputes, and the killer (s) is/are at large. The reason being that the security forces were inclined, partial and indifference. Different security agencies at different levels couldn’t handle things in this situation and there a security embarrassment and fiasco!

Our people need to bond together and unfortunately this is not the case at the moment. We are building a false and fluid system where efforts are virtually wasted with regions stubbornly ganging up against the central government. About development, nothing can help an ordinary Southerner at the remote villages due to too much bureaucracy. I have seen some states as countries within a country, with nothing to connect them to the central government. Central Equatoria State is a case in point, where the government operates independently as if this state is not legally binds to the national government. They have funny laws, and in due time, they will throw surprises. In fact no proper scrutiny of legal jargons from states constitutions or by laws.

Upper Nile and Western Bahr El Ghazal governors have approached (entered in fact) into international arrangement/agreements with some foreign governments with little or no knowledge to the Central Government in Juba. The former was in Ethiopia and then China and inked some deals there, while Governor Rizig Zechariah Hassan was in Singapore last year with ambitious projects that should have been undertaken by the national government. Why do you make of these adventures.

Socially we down and soon it is going to be very difficult to heal the scars cause by social inbalance and strife. Southerners are now classified by their states of origins and this wasn’t the case in 1972 during Uncle Joseph Lagu Yanga. Dr. John Garang meant well, though the card of ‘people managing their lands’ was misinterpreted and abuse. I thought it was a policy made to act as a deterrent to Arabs; why is it that our current leadership hangs on this terrible and unstable system? Isn’t the Nigeria federalism situation an alarm to make us caution when applying federalism. What is in the minds of these people who are craving for federalism, what do they want something the central and unity government couldn’t do

Economically, federalism hurts poor states and most of the time, it encourages unnecessary competition and selfishness. In another word, it breeds inequality and we don’t want it happen in our land. Some states are rich while others could be left behind. We must distribution the national cakes equally to all irrespective of whether the oil or what other national resource is discovered where.

Therefore, it is my little proposals that we return our system to unitary, but keep counties under Districts Administration, so to run away from many mouths of politicians the government must feed each day. We need one another in development, and balance is missed at the moment. Our unity is in jeopardy. Some states have high level of skilled manpower while others is crying for brains, why not discriminate Southerners during employment offers? Federalism is good in rich countries, not in the poor countries such as ours.

Majority of world countries are unitary, except 25 among them the United States of America, Canada, Australia, India, Mexico, Brazil among others. Unitary is enduring, as it fosters great stability and unity. I must repeat myself: federalism is a troubled infused system where several local governments can cause more rivalry and problems to the national government. It is good only when the society is educated and wealthy. Law makers hence are asked to throw away federalism like system in our land. They must help the people of South Sudan achieve more.

In states headquarters, we can only have District Commissioners, civil servants drawn from anywhere in our land due to their merits. Districts will have their representatives in the National Assembly, where issues can easily be tracked, and services provided with less political complication. This is just one bad piece of the law or governance arrangement this little author wants change, others are also there.

Isaiah Abraham lives in Juba; he’s on isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk

Amend South Sudan transitional constitution to save Arabic pattern students

By James Okuk

March 7, 2012 — "English shall be the official working language in the Republic of South Sudan, as well as the language of instruction at all levels of education." (Article 6(2), Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan).

When Mr. Hon. Minister John Luk Jok and his cronies in the SPLM and elsewhere were so busy and busying imposing a partiality irrelevant and selfish transitional constitution on a fact-value tough realities of South Sudan, I was one of the opposers and particularly on the case of fixating the colonial English language as the only lingua officio in the new country.

Unfortunately, my opinion was taken as an offense and thus criminalized with imprisoning consequence as I underwent shortly after my arrival in Juba. I wasn’t surprised to discover that Mr. Hon. Minister Luk was in fact behind my prosecution together with some other first-order Ministers and presidential advisors of the new Republic.

My opinion was translated and interpreted by those semi-utopian and power-hungry if not angry politicians as insult against their government and SPLM regime. However, and as Jesus Christ parabled it that even if you hid a light under a bed, its objective radiants will still come out surely despite your subjective dislike of the inevitable illumination.

The case in point here is the fate of public universities that are now annexed to the Republic of South Sudan by default. These universities used to be part of the higher learning institutions of the Sudan. Many of their colleges and centers were stationed and operated in Khartoum, and under control of Jellaba; be it the curriculum, academic staff, other personnel, laboratories, libraries, etc.

More narrowly, I would like to limit this case to the current situation of University of Juba, which is and should be regarded as the Mother of other universities in South Sudan.

As I write this article and as you read it, the students are facing difficulties of transition from the Sudan to South Sudan as far as the fate of their right or privilege to education is concerned. The government seems to be caring less with plenty of empty promises than actions as commonly known in the fourth world before it get into third one.

Those who were admitted and taught as Arabic pattern students are being forced to to become Englishmen at their final years. The scenario is like telling them to attend and write their lectures and exams in Chinese language when they are not used to this at all. If not they are advised to quit and learn the required language externally elsewhere before they dare to come back to lecture rooms or halls.

Does this makes any sense even if the transitional constitution says that the medium of official educational instruction in South Sudan must be English language?

Yes, it will be a violation of the highest law in the country if a lecturer goes to class in Juba University to teach his students in unconstitutional language. It will also be a violation of South Sudan constitution if students attempt to note down their lectures or take exams using unconstitutional language.

But what about students who are studying foreign languages like French, German, Arabic, etc; in which language will they do this? Will they write, for example, their French language exams using English language so that they can look like good constitutional law-abiding citizens?

Of course it will look naive indeed. But who is really naive; those who manufactured the law of sidelining Arabic language or those who are trying to apply and implement the imposed law that seems to lack the sense of the common good. Does South Sudan have a problem with Arabic language or with the Arabic race? Even Israel teaches its students classical Arabic language.

For me, instead of students turning against themselves or against their lecturers and administration in the university, they should go straight to where the problem has been created. It is good that Mr. John Luk, the chief architect of the so-called South Sudanese transitional constitutional is still alive and kicking in Juba, with the direction of his Ministry of Justice known by both the students and university administration. It is good too that he is now an appointed MP despite his fall in ballot boxes during 2010 general elections. He is part of the law-making and law-amending factory in South Sudan, i.e., the National Legislative Assembly (SSNLA).

Thus, the students of the University of Juba should go to Hon. John Luk’s comfortable office near New Sudan Hotel to kindly ask him to table in the SSNLA a motion of amending that messy part of the transitional constitution so that the Arabic patterns students in the university could be saved from the constitutional wrath of instructing them in a prohibited foreign language.

If Hon. John Luk declined to grant the kind request, then the students may go elsewhere to find an intelligent and caring MP to table the salvation motion that will kick out the mess for good and for the sake of students’ peace in the university. By then and only by then, will the Arabic patterns students be allowed to graduate together with their English patterns colleges.

Any tendency to compromise with the Arabic patterns students before the highly recommended constitutional amendment would surely be a violation to the supreme law in the new country. It is not virtuous to disobey the law though it is prudent to interpret the law in the interest of the common good rather than interest of the stronger or the powerful.

Please South Sudan National MPs, give an assurance of highest consideration to the difficult situation being faced by the students in the public universities, especially the problem of language transition from Arabic to English. Amend the the hindering constitutional article so that a legal safety is ensured for our universities who should not be denied the right to education in Arabic and other languages.

In truth and logic we should lay our trust. Long live South Sudan! Long live Juba and other Universities!

Dr. James Okuk lives in Juba and could be reached at okukjimy@hotmail.com.

Sudan: Power to the NCP, Sharia to the masses

By Magdi El-Gizouli

March 4, 2012 — In a meeting extending to the early hours of Thursday, 23 February, the Leadership Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) approved a major re-distribution of duties in its top rank, namely the leadership of the party’s five sectors and their constitutive secretariats a rung lower. Vice President al-Haj Adam Yusif, Hamid Sideeg, Samya Ahmed Mohamed, Sabir Mohamed al-Hassan and Amin Hassan Omer replaced Qutbi al-Mahdi, Nafie Ali Nafie, Salah Wansi, Awad al-Jaz and Ibrahim Ahmed Omer as chairpersons of the party’s political, organisational, professionals’, economic and cultural sectors in that order. Only Mustafa Osman Ismail, the chairman of the external relations sector was not affected by the reshuffle. In his department Mohamed Yusif Abdalla, Hassanat Awad Satti and Issa Bushra were named secretaries for African, Western and Asian countries respectively. In the political sector, the secretariat for mobilisation headed by Haj Majid Siwar was scrapped and its mandate fused with the media secretariat led by Ibrahim Ghandoor. Hasabo Mohamed Abd al-Rahman, the former commissioner for humanitarian affairs and the head of the Darfur caucus in the parliament, was appointed secretary for political communication, a post previous occupied by al-Haj Adam Yusif. In the organisational sector, Khalil Abdalla replaced Hajo Gasm al-Seed as secretary for Kordofan and the White Nile, and Salah Ahmed was picked to lead the information secretariat. Amin Mahmoud and Abd al-Moneim al-Sunni, the secretaries for students and youth were affirmed in their positions. Adil Awad Salman, the former governor of the Northern state, was appointed secretary for civil society organisations, a newly devised post, while Intisar Abu Najma was named secretary for women, Samya Ahmed Mohamed’s former position. Mohamed Haj Majid and Ammar Bashari assumed responsibility for the social affairs and voluntary work secretariats respectively.

On a first glance the impression of a major sweep in the leadership of the NCP is justified. This at least is the message that the NCP wants to transmit. The party’s Nizar Khaled Mahjoub told the press that the reshuffle was part of a wider reform agenda endorsed by the December 2011 general convention. Well, that may be so. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals a less dramatic state of affairs. The reshuffle seems to be driven by two related concerns, accommodation of those NCP headmen left out of the post-secession cabinet, and the integration of the Islamic Movement’s influential and more vocal functionaries into the business of the ruling party. The division of labour, or rather the acrimonious equilibrium, between Nafie Ali Nafie and Ali Osman Mohamed Taha was reset despite the apparent delegation of responsibilities to junior functionaries. The first was re-affirmed in his position as Deputy Chairman for Party Affairs, a mandate that provides him with sufficient authority to rule supreme over the new head of the organisational sector, while the post of the second was redesigned to read Deputy Chairman for Executive Affairs, a depiction that corresponds to his role as guardian over the NCP’s cabinet members and the state bureaucracy. Significant though was the NCP’s readiness to promote younger members of the Islamic Movement to high office. Ammar Bashari and Mohamed Haj Majid, to name two of the youngest breed, have next to no experience of political activity before the 1989 coup. In the mid-1990s both were student activists. There are good reasons to believe that Bashari was involved back in 1998 in the murder of Mohamed Abd al-Salam, a fellow colleague in Khartoum University and a member of the Communist Party’s student organisation. Haj Majid distinguished himself by an avid enthusiasm for jihad against the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) and the regime’s many enemies during the 1990s, and was eventually rewarded for his long service with the top job in the Martyr’s Organisation, the benefits dispenser of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces (PDF) responsible for the well-being of the fallen combatants’ families and close kin. Compared to their generation in the opposition establishment these younger NCP functionaries seem to be faring pretty well, it must be said. In the National Umma Party (NUP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the Communist Party, I fear, Bashari’s contemporaries are busy writing protest documents against their perceived ‘marginalisation’. The NCP, on the other hand, seems to be ready to offer its offspring the token of inclusion along a rough quota system, a model that emulates, and here I am speculating at will, the experience of the NCP’s strategic partner/patron, the Communist Party of China. Back in January the two parties held what they termed the first session of a high level dialogue in Khartoum co-chaired by the NCP’s Deputy Chairman, Nafie Ali Nafie, and the CPC’s Li Yuanchao, Politburo member, Secretary of the Secretariat of the CPC’s Central Committee and Chairman of the Organisational Department of the Central Committee. “The friendly frank and in-depth dialogue reviewed how to further develop the two parties’ relations in light of the current development, shared experiences on how to consolidate their ruling positions”, reported Xinhua.

In the first public appearance following his new NCP appointment Haj Majid addressed the founding conference of the Islamic Constitution Front (ICF) in Khartoum in the very language he employed as a student agitator for the Islamist cause. “The martyrs of jihad did not die for a person or for a party but for the cause of the [Islamic] faith”, he declared. The conference which brought together representatives of almost the entire spectrum of political Islam in the country, Turabi’s deputy included, renewed the call for a strictly Islamic order as detailed in a draft constitution published under the name of the ICF in October last year, and warned President Bashir of an ‘Arab Spring’ in Sudan if he fails to follow through. The NCP, a partner in the venture, simply responded with the reassurance that sharia will prevail. The opposition in Khartoum, as expected, stumbled over its own incompetence and turned the whole issue into an internecine dispute over the significance of Abdalla Hassan Ahmed’s signature. The PCP’s Deputy Secretary General had attended the event and signed the founding charter of the ICF drawing fierce criticism from his party fellow Kamal Omer, the PCP’s permanent representative in the opposition alliance. The debate thus focused on whether Abdalla had signed in his personal capacity, Omer’s claim, or the capacity of his office, the opposition’s suspicion. Whatever the case, the lesson to be drawn is that the NCP and its jealous allies are pursuing the consolidation of a political order defined by commitment to an Islamist frame of reference. Under these terms the NCP could only glee at a fracture in the political scene dividing between the supporters of sharia rule and its opponents, a situation that would naturally allow it to ride high on the Islamic wave and equate instances of opposition to its hegemony with the disparage of Islam as such. This ideological operation is a game that Sudan’s Islamists have mastered very well. Its roots in the Sudanese postcolony reach back to Ismail al-Azhari’s toying with sharia rule in the 1960s as a means to achieve presidential ambitions, while its perfection is certainly Hassan al-Turabi’s primary achievement. In the face of this challenge the opposition to the NCP has usually resorted to the category of soft sharia, or what President Bashir recently denigrated as coy revisionism of hardcore sharia obligations. Necessary, I presume, is the rejection of the sharia-secular dichotomy altogether rather than submission to rules of engagement that favour by virtue of their very formulation the claims of the puritan fundamentalist over those of the enlightened reformer. Sharia as an item of political grammar operates in a secular manner, and has become the name of secular demands. The emergent petty bourgeoisie of the Islamic Movement wrote sharia on their banners to storm the citadels of the sectarian parties, themselves reliant on another read of sharia for their ideological sustenance. Today, the NCP cheers sharia to quench the anti-systemic rage brewing in Khartoum’s impoverished neighbourhoods where feelings of neglect, exclusion and enstrangement are harnessed by the extra-NCP Islamist extreme. The claims of fidelity to sharia, and sharia as such, streamline the conflict in society rather than define it. No wonder it is the CPC that the NCP turns to for advice not the sheikhs of Islam. The counter-claim of Khartoum’s secular opposition has traditionally been the attempt to flake the form from the essence, the first perceived to be sharia and the second the Islamists’ drive for power. What is denied in this flat empiricism is the whole of the societal conflict that determines both.

The author is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He publishes regular opinion articles and analyses at his blog Still Sudan. He can be reached at m.elgizouli@gmail.com

The Myth of South Sudan

By Makol Bona Malwal

March 2, 2012 — South Sudan was conceived on the myth that we are one people with one common destiny. We are now discovering that regional and tribal differences are not dissolving and that South Sudanese think and act very differently from one another.

The simple fact is that people who are raised thinking of their tribe/ nationality as Pojulu, Dinka, Shuluk, Zande, Bari, Murle, Nuer, or what have you will probably always think of themselves in that way. It may take several generations for the concept of being Pojulu, Dinka, Shuluk, Zande, Bari, Murle, Nuer, or what have you to become the equivalent of being a New Yorker or Californian to an American, and those generations will be longer than generations were in the USA in the 1800s.

It is very important that we highlight the possible challenges and the inconsolable pains to face South Sudan beyond the passionate emotions for independence and try to stimulate the start of thinking rationally for all our future’s sakes. Our new country will face many challenges, despite simplistic categorizations of our war of independence as being between Africans and Arabs/ Christians versus Muslims. South Sudanese are not a unified group; this is a profoundly & proudly multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious lot/ land.

Any sense of a common national identity that does exist was forged in the struggle against the Mundukuro (north Sudan), something that we are all acutely aware of. The point is that South Sudanese must ask themselves if a ’South Sudanese Nation’ is, in fact, truly what they want. A true nation of South Sudanese will require the majority of its citizens to share common values, common ideals, common mores, and most likely a common language.

If these do not exist naturally, they must be cultivated and that leads to some very difficult ground for debate and discussion (and the potential for many, many problems). As part of this, South Sudanese must ask themselves why they want a South Sudanese Nation. Is it to compete economically with the Mundukuru (north Sudan), East Africa, and other large population economies (a really bad reason to build a nation)? To prevent any possibility of another grand South Sudanese civil war (South Sudan imploding)? Or why?

This lack of unity is South Sudan’s most profound crisis, one that underlies the country’s economic and political woes. Most South Sudanese have little idea what the country stands for, what binds its people together, where it has come from in the past, and where it is going to in the future. After decades of war and a hefty (and still growing) death toll, we have succeeded in attaining independence without gaining a nation.

Yes, but what is a South Sudanese?

Values matter because they are the glue that binds countries and peoples together. They help define what a society stands for and against. There is no consensus within South Sudan or among South Sudanese, not even the beginning of a consensus, about what South Sudanese values are.

Diversity does not equal tolerance and the existence of differences does not mean acceptance of them. A fact that has come glaringly to the fore as South Sudan has slipped deeper into crisis and relationships have strained among its people and tribes.

The relationship between peasant communities and pastoralists with shared livelihoods need to be effectively managed or else violence is the natural outcome of mismanagement.

One can of course have multiple identities. Some Europeans are Catalan and Spanish, as well as European. But identities cannot be artificially created; they are forged early on and never go away. We must construct common institutions, laws and create all the symbols of a nation-state. Prosperity for a war-torn country, freedom from tyranny and peace among our people & tribes after decades if not centuries of bloodletting should be some of the ideals we should aspire too.

This is not to say that a united South Sudanese Nation will never happen, but it must be understood that it will be a long, slow process and will likely be longer and slower than the process was in the US for example, due to a longer legacy of conflict between our tribes & people and of all things longer life-spans of those generations today that think of themselves as coming from specific tribes rather than being South Sudanese.

Over the long term though, people need the solace and sense of community and shared culture, history and custom that nationhood provides.

Makol can be reached at: mbmalwal@yahoo.com

South Sudan: Oil and financial crisis

By Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey

The Republic of South Sudan is currently facing a financial crisis that has been provoked by the closure of the pipeline. While I full support the Government on their decision to close the pipeline and I feel, along with many others, the concern and indignation on the aggression being displayed by the Khartoum regime in the North, I still believe that we should seek a solution to this problem through intelligent dialogue and negotiations that should lead both the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan to reach a mutually agreed compromise on terms and conditions that are good for all parties concerned.

To quote an article published by the Financial Times “But its decision to halt oil production, part of a year-long dispute with former warring foe Sudan, could threaten not only the foreign investment that has started to trickle in but also have a disastrous impact on the world’s newest country. Besides being the newest country in the world, South Sudan is also one of the poorest and most fragile”. “Oil brings in nearly all income and keeps state salaries and the army – which soaks up 40 per cent of spending in a country wracked by internal conflicts – afloat. The oil crisis comes at a difficult time. Nearly a third of the country’s 8.3m population are expected to need food aid this year and half a million South Sudanese may be expelled from Sudan by April”.

The attempts to settle this dispute should continue to be exerted by the AU negotiators to bring the two countries together in agreement on the transportation of oil through the Sudan Pipeline, and through the Sudan seaport. These attempts to settle the matter peacefully and through proper diplomatic relationship is the proper way of conducting such negotiations will succeed if all the parties sit down at the negotiating table with the will to negotiate, and by approaching the negotiations not as antagonists who are using historical fact to use the negotiations as a forum to speak their mind on past grievances.

The economies of both the North and the South are being badly damaged by the failure of the negotiators to reach agreement, and it seems as though each side is convinced that the other side is being damaged more by this current economic war than their opponents.

It seems to me that the Republic of Sudan’s plans of aggression have gone too far to be stopped by these negotiations, or is it still possible through diplomacy and international pressure to stop this talk of aggression and the posturing by the North of it’s military strength. Sudan’s belligerence has been, and will continue to be for the development of this delaying process into a situation of devastating violence that they have stated that they wish to visit on us as a Nation. It would appear as though they have advanced in their war plans with the intention of extending their borders beyond the oil fields of Malute, Renk, Abyei, Bentieu and Aweil. These indications are apparent by statements made in the Republic of Sudan and are the early warning signs of proposed war plans that are being made, and can be confirmed by the movement of troops and military equipment into the border areas. It is a known fact that Bashir has instructed his air force to bomb the areas along our borders, including reported bombings in our sovereign territory. What are our plans in terms of either peace or war?

In peace, we have done our best to sustain the values incorporated in the CPA and abide by the terms and conditions contained therein. We condoned the fact that Sudan (Northern Sudan at that time) was not living up to its commitments, but was more interested in exploiting us in the South and continued to pump our oil for a quick market abroad, and for its Refineries inside the Republic of Sudan to continue and make profit at the expense of the South. Frankly speaking, the Republic of Sudan was never for the freedom of the South, but was forced to accept it because our referendum proved that we wanted to separate, and the International community put a lot of pressure on the Khartoum regime to accept our independence. In war, it must be remembered that we were driven from our land, and then we came back and took it back again against overwhelming odds. The people that suffered the effects of the wars and will suffer again, are the civilian populations, but soldiers never die, because there are always people who are prepared to fight for their rights, and they will ultimately win.

The main reason why we still have the border and pipeline transport and transit issues today, is because the North did not want to agree to the conditions set out in the CPA, because it affected Oil and their rights to our oil, and they knew that these issues if resolved would have a devastating impact on their economy, which has subsequently proved to be correct now that we are in control of our own oil. With the understanding that we in the Republic of South Sudan are capable of controlling our own oil resources, I am of the opinion that the Bashir regime in Khartoum has decided that it will invade our oil fields and extend their boundaries, annex or dominate all our oil producing areas for as long as they can, in order to get the oil flowing again and support their economy which has become oil dependant, and is now oil dependant on the Republic of South Sudan for it to be able to sustain its economy. If the Republic of Sudan decides to go the military route and invade or annex our lands, then we must fight to retain it, or regain it as we did in the last war.

Recently, when his Excellency the President Salva Kiir Mayardit decided to close down the oil fields, it became apparent that there were many more oil wells than were declared by the oil companies. It is an acknowledged fact that the metering system on the pipeline was not working, so therefore no accurate measure could be put against the production from the fields. In simple terms, we were being cheated by the Khartoum regime, as well as the oil companies that were producing. How much revenue did we lose from the signing of the CPA is a question that will never be answered unless there is a full audit done on the oil companies production records. Khartoum cries today, but was quite comfortable to pump and sell our oil prior to the signing of the CPA. Sudan started exporting Crude oil in the last quarter of 1999. What happened to the South’s share of oil from 1999 up to the signing of the CPA? Where did the money come from to build the oil infrastructure of pipelines and refineries in the Republic of Sudan? From the 75% of oil produced in the Republic of South Sudan is where the money came from, and therefore, we should have a 75% share in the entire oil sector infrastructure established in the North, because they spent nothing on us in the south after 1999 when they started exporting our oil.

The Greater Nile Oil Pipeline was constructed by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) and commenced operation in 1999. It is operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) which is a 40% stakeholder in GNPOC. GNPOC is a joint operating company owned by: China National Petroleum Corporation: 40% Petronas Carigali Overseas of Malaysia: 30% ONGC Videsh (the overseas arm of ONGC) of India: 25% Sudapet of Sudan: 5%

According to my information, the pipeline is not yet an asset of the Republic of Sudan, as it was financed and built by GNOPC in the above joint venture and only becomes an asset of the Republic of Sudan in 2013. As a commercial operation, it would have been charging itself as an exploration and production company as well as the other partners and exploration and production companies that use the pipeline a fee. It would be good for us to know what they were charging as a transport fee during the time of the Government of National Unity and use that as a benchmark for what we should be negotiating for now.

As a nation, I believe that the people of the Republic of South Sudan, as well as those of the Republic of Sudan are tired of war. Our joint task as neighbours should be for us to identify the need to seek a peaceful solution and settlement in order to divert the impending crisis of impending military aggression and economic ruin that faces both countries. As I said earlier, that in order to be able to do this, we need to continue with the present dialogue and continue with the AU process in Addis Ababa. I propose that we stick to what would be considered as fair and reasonable international tariffs and transit fees and commercial terms for the use of the pipeline, such as are being charged in Chad and the Cameroons for example.

As a nation, we should understand that the pipeline was developed with the proceeds from the majority of oil from the South, and we should understand that the regime in Khartoum built their economy on oil from the South. Let us accept that Khartoum became an oil dependant nation and that Bashir never thought that the South would secede from the North. I firmly believe that both the Governments of the North and the South should seek to jointly own the pipeline and run it as a commercial enterprise that generates income for both countries. I further believe that we should understand that the North has financial problems since they lost the majority of their share in the oil fields. If we face each other across the negotiating table, and each one of us understands our strengths and weaknesses, and then we work together as nations to strengthen each other, then we will both be in a better position. Let us in the South help those in the North to sustain their economy for the next 4 years while they look for alternative sources of revenue to support their economy. I advocate the construction of an alternative pipeline through either Kenya, or Ethiopia/Djibouti at a cost of Billions of US$, but that will take time and we should ask ourselves if we have the time to survive as an economic entity while we build the proposed pipelines.

To quote the article from the Financial Times by Katrina Mason. “The country has begun looking for grants and loans to tide the gap. It will soon become a member of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund but it can take up to a year to secure loans. The ministry of finance has asked the African Development Bank to consider loans and a fund to pool cash for direct budget support, something donors do not offer at the moment, not least because corruption is entrenched.” “Ultimately they will need to borrow seriously and we know they are actively trying,” says a foreign official, citing trips to commercial banks in London, state lenders in South Korea and plans to tap China. “This debt can quickly balloon and it could be very dangerous.”

My research has shown that the rates used for the pipeline in 2008 ranged from$4 to $8.6 per barrel, with Blocks 1, 2 & 4 accounting for the lowest, and Block 5A the highest fee. Pipeline costs for Blocks 3 & 7 were standing at US$ 5.5 per barrel. We should also take into account the length of the respective pipelines when establishing transport value. Because Khartoum owns part of the pipeline, operational costs for company’s de-facto charges include pipeline usage, these tariffs vary per location.

I propose that we continue to negotiate in good faith and seek to get what are considered internationally acceptable commercial terms. We must ensure that Sudan comes to the negotiating table with the intention to negotiate in a reasonable manner without further threats against us, and they should not be allowed to create and set new world standards. They should understand that we are no longer sharing oil with Khartoum, and that the only thing that we share, are common borders whose standards are based on international law. Borders of a sovereign nation are not relinquished easily, as is evidenced by border wars that were fought by the colonial powers in Europe in the past. We in the Republic of South Sudan likewise should ensure that we retain our borders as they were drawn by the British on the 1st January 1956, the date when Sudan gained independence from Britain.

Our country’s foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, should consist of national self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations. The approaches we use should be strategically employed to interact with other countries, especially our neighbouring countries. We need to recognise who our friends are, and make them recognise who we are, and then partner with them in our development. We should not practise a policy of appeasement but one of reality under the UN Charter. This should be done at all levels from the Political to the Economic. We should avoid aggression with our neighbours that border us, but should rather share common difficulties and seek diplomatic solutions, which I believe is the best policy. Having come from war, we should now seek peaceful coexistence and I suggest that we avoid war at all costs as it is expensive and wasteful of both human and financial resources. Our negotiations with Khartoum should be conducted in a diplomatic manner, and we should not be seen to be belligerent negotiators, and our negotiators should serve the interests of the nation as a priority.

In conclusion, I will quote the Financial Times article “What happens next depends on how long the country can eke out its reserves, which are secret but estimated at $1.5bn. If and when this runs out – in two or three months – foreign investors drawn to a Juba growth bubble buoyed by oil, independence and international aid, may be forced to think twice.”

Hon. Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey is an Elected Member of Parliament & Chairman of Legislation, Legal Affairs & Humanitarian Rights Committee, Council of States (SENATE) in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at aldoajoudengakuey@gmail.com