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December 2013 - Posts

Don’t let Uganda’s President Museveni destroy South Sudan

Press Release

December 31, 2013, Juba, South Sudan

SSHURSA urges international community to disallow President Museveni destroying South Sudan

The South Sudan Human Rights society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) calls upon the sincere members of the international Community and the African Union to disallow Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has already prepared to destroy South Sudan.

Considering President Museveni as one of the key central figures in IGAD-Peace led mediation and reconciliation over South Sudan’s recent crisis, is a terrible miscalculation by the regional body, the IGAD and unforgivable betrayal of the people of South Sudan by the international Community. The United States and British Governments as well as other nations should rise up to prevent more bloodbaths fueled by Mr. Museveni in South Sudan. President Museveni is known by many South Sudanese citizens as partial, one sided self-proclaimed mediator and great mouth in meddling in South Sudan’s internal politics and security matters. For the last one year, he had been accused by sections of citizens in South Sudan and Uganda Parliament as a man who encourages crises in the South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party internal affairs as he has been allged of misadvising South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to listen to no one but believing in military might of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to back up the latter’s own military guards against any internal political critics.

Against that background, Mr. Museveni cannot be one of the mediators on South Sudanese internal crises as he has always been known by sane South Sudanese and Ugandans of his partiality by taking unilateral military decision to deploy UPDF to fuel violence in South Sudan.

SSHURSA recommends the following:

  1. Calls on the International Community should strongly condemn and urge Mr. Museveni to stop meddling in South Sudanese internal affairs and restraint him from uttering statements that don’t serve purpose of peace and reconciliation in South Sudan but fueling violence
  1. Urges Mr. Museveni to stop moblizing IGAD countries to destroy South Sudan militarily under the claim of fighting SPLA forces against Juba under former South Sudan’s VP Riek Machar.
  1. Urges Uganda Parliament to pass a motion against illegal deployment of UPDF to call on Mr. Museveni to withdraw them from South Sudan before it is regarded as forces of occupation.
  1. SSHURSA urges sane members of South Sudan Legislative Assembly to pass a motion against the deployment of Uganda’s troops in South Sudanese soil which fuels internal conflict.
  1. SSHURSA calls upon IGAD to pursue peace and reconciliation by discussing root causes of crises with the ruling party SPLM rather than taking sides to further deep wounds among the South Sudanese people who are well educated in what has been going in South Sudan and how the current crises started.
  1. Calls upon international human rights groups and people of good will to expose and condemn Museveni’s acts of partiality that is fueling crises in South Sudan and throwing Great Lakes region into crises. Any sane human being must ask; if Museveni’s UPDF failed to defeat the rebellion of Nothern Uganda Joseph Konyi’s Lord Resistance Army for over 20 years, what miracle would he have to be successful in foreign land if not yearn for organized anarchy in South Sudan to divert the intention of Ugandans from their own internal governance crises?
  1. SSHURSA also calls upon international community to pressure on President Salva Kiir to release the 11 political detainees he alleged of staging a coup against him. The release will pave way for dialogue between him and his former deupty Riek Machar.
  1. SSHURSA calls upon UN to create buffer zone between the fighting forces to prevent more escalation of violence and pressure the two leaders for talks genuinely meant to bring sanity, peace and true reconciliation to South Sudan.
  1. Calls upon Uganda and South Sudanese civil society to stage demonstrations against iilegal deployment of UPDF in South Sudan.
  1. Finally, SSHURSA condemns the violence and the irresponsible SPLM dictatorship that has thrown the country into deep insecurities and also pays deep condolences to all families for the loss of dear ones in the senseless war.

For more information about SSHURSA or this press release, contact SSHURSA through its Executive Director on E-mail:,


South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) is an incorporated non political and non profit making Human Rights organization founded in June 2007 by South Sudanese Lawyers and Law Students at Makerere Law Development Centre (LDC), Kampala-Uganda. In 2009, it became operational in South Sudan with its head office in capital city Juba and co-ordination offices in the states. It membership composes of individuals and organizations who believe in its human rights protection mandate. Its vision is for a democratic and human rights abiding South Sudan and with its mission to monitor, document and publish human rights status in South Sudan and also train general public on Constitution, the importance of human rights, fundamental freedoms of an individual, Rule of Law, democracy, Transitional Justice and International Humanitarian Law , all geared towards creating a more responsible, justice and good governance oriented South Sudan. SSHURSA pays special focus on the rights of children, women and other vulnerable groups.It also keeps close attention to the strict observance of the supreme law, The Constitution.



For more information, contact us on:

  • E-mail:
  • Website:
  • Tel: +211955300382/+211921114362;
  • Juba, Republic of South Sudan
Riek Machar’s End-Game: What is it?

By Eric Reeves,

Riek Machar, former Vice-President of South Sudan and current leader of rebel forces in the country, knows as well as anyone that every day that passes without a halt to the fighting—every hour—makes more likely the explosive spread of violence that has already taken on a clear ethnic character. Riek knows as well that as long as this violence continues it will be impossible for most humanitarian organizations to operate outside Juba, putting many hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk—most without any political identity, but inevitably an ethnic identity. The number of those displaced was put at 121,000 several days ago by the UN, but it was only a mechanical estimate. Toby Lanzer, head of humanitarian operations in South Sudan, declared on December 22 that, "’As we go to bed tonight, there are hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who’ve fled into the bush or back to their villages to get out of harm’s way’" (BBC, December 22, 2013). There is dismayingly little reporting presence in most of South Sudan, especially in Jonglei, Unity State, and Upper Nile—those areas that have seen the most fighting and in which the forces of Riek Machar are strongest.

Bor (Jonglei) and Malakal (Upper Nile) have been recaptured by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA, the army of South Sudan); however, these major towns may yet be the sites of more fighting. Indeed, Associated Press reports today (Nairobi, December 28, 2013) that 25,000 (Lou) Nuer youth are within 30 miles of Bor and that fighting could resume at any time (this figure is likely an overstatement, but perhaps not by much). This would put a tremendous number of civilians at acute risk. Of this Lou Nuer "White Army" Associated Press also reports:

The White Army has threatened the central government in recent past. In 2011 the army said that the Nuer youths would fight until all the Murle—another tribe [in Jonglei]—had been killed.

An unconfirmed report from the ground has the forces of Peter Gadet, who defected to Riek, even closer—at only a few kilometers north of Bor, possibly awaiting the arrival of the "White Army." Gadet has a well-deserved reputation as a fearsome and brutal warrior.

Two of the states involved in recent fighting—Unity and Upper Nile—are the primary oil producing regions of South Sudan. Machar’s allies control Bentiu, capital of Unity State, and defecting SPLA division commander General James Koang Chuol has declared that the oil fields of Unity have been completely shut down. It is quite unclear whether the shutdown occurred with anything approaching the necessary technical care for such an operation; and given the wholesale exodus of Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian oil workers—including those with technical expertise—it is certain that in the relatively near term, in the absence of maintenance, major damage will be done to the oil infrastructure; moreover, re-starting the flow of oil may be an extended operation. This denies revenues to both Khartoum as well as Juba, given the transit fee arrangements and the significant amount of oil that lies in reserves north of the current North/South border. Oil from the reserves of both South Sudan and Sudan in the Unity/South Kordofan areas use the same pipeline and infrastructure, and are equally affected by any threat to professional maintenance of this system. Riek is also well aware of this.

So why has Riek refused to respond to offers from the Government of South Sudan (GOSS)? These include talks "without preconditions" (December 19), the announced release of most of the detainees Riek has demanded be freed (December 27), and the offer of an "immediate ceasefire" (in a Twitter feed of December 27, the GOSS declared: "We have agreed in principle to a ceasefire to begin immediately, but our forces are prepared to defend themselves if attacked." Riek’s response? In an interview on December 27, speaking to the BBC by satellite phone, he said "any cease-fire had to be negotiated by delegations from both sides and must be ’credible,’ must ’include a way to monitor compliance,’ and ’must have [established] mechanisms for monitoring.’" But all this will take a good deal of time at a critical moment; and if these requirements are true for a full and final cease-fire agreement, it is not true for an immediate military stand-down. The government in Juba has declared that it will hold off on its offensive designed to re-take Bentiu: this halting, easily monitored, will provide a clear measure of whether the GOSS and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) are acting in good faith, provided that Riek responds in kind. Instead, there are reliable reports of a resumed assault by Riek’s forces on Bor, and my contact in Malakal indicates the SPLA there expects renewed attack.

We could have in effect something very much like the "Agreement on the Cessation of Offensive Hostilities" declared by Khartoum and the SPLA in October 2002—the event that marked the rapid de-escalation of fighting in the civil war, then in its twentieth year. To be sure, fighting continued (as I witnessed myself in January 2003), but the de-escalation continued, leading to a more formalized cease-fire in February 2003. It was this that enabled progress in negotiating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

[ Troublingly, it must be said, comments by Juba’s military spokesman, Philip Aguer, are indicative of either a lack of communication or confusion on the part of Juba. Associated Press reports Aguer as saying that, "’We have not seen any sign of a cease-fire. There is no cease-fire agreed by the two sides,’ an indication the planned assault on Bentiu could still take place" (Nairobi, December 27, 2013). This ambiguity or contradiction or lack of internal communication should be addressed immediately. ]

Machar also declared to the BBC on December 27 that conditions for a truce were not yet in place. But if not now, when? Fighting, violence, and ethnic animosities increase every day, every hour: how can these facts, these "conditions," not dictate that whatever form of truce or cease-fire is possible be declared now?

What is Riek’s "end game"? How does he see an end to the human destruction that threatens to become utterly catastrophic? How does he see his own future?

Politically he has no apparent allies in the international community, and it is clear from the language of the recent statement by IGAD (a consortium of East African nations, led in this case by Kenya) that there is strong support for Juba:

Addressing a special summit of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African regional body, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged Kiir and Machar to seize "the small window of opportunity" and start peace talks. "Let it be known that we in IGAD will not accept the unconstitutional overthrow of a duly and democratically elected government in South Sudan.

Kenyatta continued:

"The present crisis, if not contained, will produce millions of internally displaced persons and refugees and set back this region immeasurably," Kenyatta told the regional leaders. (Reuters [Juba/Nairobi], December 27, 2013)

The scenario outlined by Kenyatta is terrifyingly plausible. For its part, the African Union is taking its cues from IGAD and the UN has likely done all it can or will do by sending a very substantial new contingent of peacekeeping forces to South Sudan. But even after secession, South Sudan remained one of Africa’s largest countries—the size of France. It will be extremely difficult to control even present violence; to respond to the needs of displaced persons and to provide security for the humanitarian organizations that are desperate to get back into the South is beyond daunting.

Mistrust of Riek by a great many Southerners has always been high, and not only because of his role in the slaughter of Dinka in his 1991 rampage toward Bor, where thousands of civilians were killed. His signing of a wholly unworkable, expedient, and personally enriching peace agreement with the Khartoum regime in 1997 has not been forgotten, and for many that agreement defines him still as a politician. They regard the "Khartoum Peace Agreement" of 1997 (also signed by Lam Akol) as a touchstone event, especially in light of the ensuing massive assault on civilians in the oil regions of what was then Western Upper Nile (which included what is today Unity State). Many more, having had personal contact with Riek, have expressed a distinct uneasiness, a lack of confidence in the man’s trustworthiness.

And yet in an interview with Al Jazeera (December 24) Riek repeatedly declared that he was speaking "for the people of South Sudan," that he wished for a "palace revolution" that would depose President Salva Kiir, and that his efforts were the start of a "second liberation" of South Sudan. But what form will this "second liberation" take? Riek denied in the interview that he was complicit in any of the terrible atrocities that have been committed, but so long as he refuses to accept an immediate cease-fire, this claim will be impossible to credit.

A Role for Khartoum?

Again, the inevitable question is whether Riek has an "end game" amidst the present violence—or is he simply improvising, counting on a military stand-off that will compel the international community to accord him the place he wants at the negotiating table, and with such military and diplomatic equities as will enable him to strike a deal he finds acceptable?

Unfortunately, the arrangement(s) most recently suggested by Riek (see below) necessarily require Khartoum’s assistance; and in rendering such help, by declaring—with Riek—that the Government of South Sudan is illegitimate, Khartoum would make even wider war all too distinct a possibility. Khartoum’s assisting Riek would be a disaster; nothing could be more destructive of the chances for negotiating the critical outstanding issues between Juba and Khartoum, most notably Abyei, which lies adjacent to Unity State (as well as Warrap and Northern Bahr el-Ghazal). Boundary issues elsewhere would also be impossible to resolve unless Khartoum accepts the GOSS as its sole negotiating partner. The North/South peace would be in extreme danger if any version of such collusion were to become evident.

There are as yet no clear answers or telling insights here about Riek’s intentions; but the march of many thousands of Nuer youth on Bor, in the form of the infamous "White Army," suggests that Riek is willing to let his forces continue to extend the fighting. Having "let slip the dogs of war," he has no evident intent to leash them—and "havoc" there will be. Malakal, although retaken by the SPLA, may also be the site of a counter-attack by Riek’s forces, many of them former regular members of the SPLA and a formidable military force.

What is most concerning is Riek’s extraordinary statement about his sequestering of oil revenues (see below). For this raises a deeply troubling possibility: that Riek been in serious communication, even negotiations with the regime in Khartoum, which looks with horror at the shutdown of the Unity State oil fields, with critical infrastructure left unattended by professionals in oil extraction and pumping. The defecting commander of the SPLA 4th Division in Bentiu, General James Koang Chuol, declared on December 26 that "oil production from fields in his [Unity] state had to be halted due to lack of staff remaining at the oil field" (Sudan Tribune). Several days earlier Malaysian oil workers reported that three well sites had already been closed, even before evacuation of all Chinese, Indian, as well as Malaysian workers. The prolonged shutdown of Unity State oil production would be yet another severe revenue shock to an economy in the north that is already rapidly imploding. Last week there were long lines for gasoline in Khartoum, in fear of the oil shutdown. Two weeks before that there were long lines for bread because of an acute shortage, brought on by the inability of the Khartoum regime to purchase wheat from abroad—this for lack of foreign exchange currency (Forex); indeed, according to IMF predictions of last fall, all Khartoum’s Forex reserves will be exhausted by the end of this year. To the extent that oil and transit fees for oil from the South helped to cushion Khartoum from the full effects of its gross mismanagement of the northern economy, their precipitous loss of such revenues may simply be too much to sustain.

Understanding this point full well, Riek and his lieutenants have floated the idea of sequestering oil revenues so that they do not reach Juba; in turn, Khartoum would presumably enjoy the same revenues as before under such an arrangement, and would thus make the regime an ally of Riek and his forces, either de facto or by formal agreement. As Riek himself declared in an interview with Sudan Tribune (London, December 23, 2013):

South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, says forces under his command will divert oil revenues accrued from the country’s oil wells, days after his troops seized control of much of the new nation’s oilfields. In an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune on Monday, Machar revealed a plan to halt oil revenue remittances to Juba. He said no money would go to the government in Juba, explaining that his group plans to divert oil revenues and deal directly with Sudan in implementing the September 2012 cooperation agreements, as they are in control of the concerned states.

In understanding why Khartoum might agree to such a dangerous arrangement we must remember just how desperate the economic situation is in (northern) Sudan, which now rightly fears for its very survival. With inflation poised to skyrocket even further (the real, as opposed to "official," rate is already well above 50 percent), high unemployment and under-employment, a national currency in free-fall, conspicuous and widespread corruption, and too many sons coming back in body bags, the angry demonstrations of September and October could reappear at any time, as economic hardships only grow. A "solution"—one that might well appeal to those elements in the regime that continue to think the CPA gave away too much to the South—would be a military intervention on Riek’s behalf in Unity State. The point would be to seize the most productive oil regions in northern Unity, in a military alliance with Riek’s forces, and subsequently make a deal on governance and revenue-sharing.

Riek will certainly feel free to make a better offer than Khartoum now receives from Juba. His forces are probably strongest in Unity, where his own Nuer people are the largest ethnic group. But Machar clearly includes Upper Nile (as well as Jonglei) in his plans. And what are the assurances that this revenue will not simply be appropriated by Riek in his return to the existence of a pampered, excessively remunerated warlord? "’We will establish an extra account to which the oil revenues will be remitted for the economic interest of the people of South Sudan’" (Sudan Tribune, December 23). This is simply preposterous.

In assessing what Khartoum makes of this overture—and it may be this deliberation that prevents Riek from committing to a ceasefire—it is important to realize that the most militaristic and "anti-South" elements predominate in the regime, especially on decisions about war and peace (it was this security cabal that demanded President Omar al-Bashir renege on the agreement of June 2011 to negotiate a peace in South Kordofan, an agreement signed by senior regime official Nafie Ali Nafie). Regard for international opinion among these brutal men is minimal.

So even as we may be sure that the international community will vehemently condemn the regime if it should make an arrangement with Riek in order to secure continued oil revenues (under cover of providing "regional protection"), this is not likely to make much difference. The regime has endured decades of opprobrium without appropriate consequences for its war-making and massive atrocity crimes. These génocidaires believe there is nothing to worry about so long as they retain a monopoly on national wealth and power, both of which are threatened by an economic collapse whose scale they seem not fully to comprehend.

Perhaps Riek’s confidence that an agreement with Khartoum could somehow be fashioned is wholly factitious. But such a scheme does represent a way that Riek might survive long enough to watch as fighting continues in South Sudan, weakening the country sufficiently that his political and military equities become adequate to make him a "peace broker," thereby ensuring himself a central role in any new government replacing that of Salva Kiir.

This is all hypothetical at the moment. What is not hypothetical is that there is no clear reason for Riek’s failure to respond to Salva’s offer of "unconditional talks" (Riek simply proceeded to declare his own "condition," the release of all political detainees arrested in the wake of events of December 15). What is not hypothetical is that Riek’s explanation of why he won’t commit to a truce is expedient, and deliberately ignores the ways in which the first steps towards a cease-fire might be taken immediately. The consequence of this failure to commit except in the vaguest terms to a cease-fire makes it likely that the SPLA offensive against Bentiu may soon resume—and it will be a terribly bloody confrontation, for both soldiers and civilians (see IRIN assessment of humanitarian prospects for South Sudan, December 27). Judging by what we have seen of the aftermath of the first round of fighting in Bor, fighting in Bentiu will be even more terribly destructive, and many tens of thousands will be killed or displaced (Agence France-Presse [Juba/Bor], December 25, 2013) (Reuters [Juba], December 28). Toby Lanzer, the senior UN humanitarian coordinator for South, declared on December 24 that:

"I think it’s undeniable at this stage that there must have been thousands of people who have lost their lives. When I’ve looked at the hospitals in key towns and I’ve looked at the hospitals in the capital itself, the range of injuries, this is no longer a situation where we can merely say it’s hundreds of people who’ve lost their lives." Mr Lanzer also said that the number of people seeking shelter from the fighting was "tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands." (BBC, December 24, 2013) (all emphases in quotations have been added)

The official UN count of displaced persons—"more than 120,000"—almost certainly understates, quite significantly, the number of people who have been forced from their homes by violence. Again, on December 22 the UN’s Lanzer declared that, "’As we go to bed tonight, there are hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who’ve fled into the bush or back to their villages to get out of harm’s way’" (BBC, December 22, 2013). Daniel Howden, writing in The Guardian (December 23, 2013) reports:

A veteran aid worker, who has been assessing the scale and nature of the killings from sources nationwide, said the real figure was "in the tens of thousands." On Monday, Machar claimed his forces had gained control of all the major oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile states.

What is all too real is Riek’s declaration that he "represents the people of South Sudan," and that they would be best served by a "palace revolution" that removes Salva Kiir.

But there is no military solution to the rapidly growing human catastrophe in South Sudan; only a military stand-down will create the possibility of halting the spread of ethnic violence, and it may already be too late. The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult peace becomes and the more catastrophic the consequences for civilians of all ethnicities. To be sure, we simply don’t know enough about conditions in too many locations, especially in Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity—the three states in which Riek’s forces are strongest. But surmising from what has already occurred at Bor, Akobo, and Malakal, we should assume the worst.

What is your "end game," Riek Machar? How do you plan to stop the military violence? Why won’t you commit to a cessation of offensive hostilities agreement? Why are you speaking of the sequestering of oil revenues? And instead of putting a condition on negotiations, with perhaps other to follow, why won’t you accept Salva Kiir’s offer of immediate and "unconditional" negotiations? Why won’t you acknowledge the significance of the GOSS announcement that it is releasing eight of the eleven detainees? Why won’t you work urgently to halt the advance of the "White Army" on Bor, an advance that promises to issue in extremely bloody fighting and guarantees subsequent fighting in Bentiu?

If there are no answers soon, South Sudan may well disintegrate, humanitarians will be unable to assist civilians in need, and ongoing ethnic violence may define whole regions of what is now South Sudan.

[NB: This analysis does not presume to assess the performance of Salva Kiir as president of the GOSS or the nature of political dissatisfaction within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. The focus here is squarely on the very recent actions and statements of Riek Machar and their likely consequences for South Sudan. A subsequent analysis will attempt to move back in time in an attempt to survey political discontent in this very new country. The Brookings Institution offers a very useful time-line ("A Timeline of Brookings Expert Commentary on South Sudan," December 27, 2013.]

South Sudanese Loses Fighting for Leaders

By Gabrial Pager Ajang,

In eight days, we have destroyed what have built for eight years. We have killed hundreds of innocents’ people.

We have destroyed Juba and Bor Town infrastructures.  Today, divisions 1, 6, 7 and newly integrated militias have repelled rebels from Malakal, and, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost. The government continues to escalate its military operations in the richest oilfield of Unity State.

Why are we why killings ourselves? The really losers in this conflict are South Sudanese citizens, and soldiers who follow retarded leaders. Soldiers are loyal to leaders, and have strong ethnic ties than to the nation, in other words, we have weak institution and strong ethic ties. Our ethnic groups are well organized than our government’s institutions. Concurrently, we are led by dangerously wild leaders, who are merciless and perilous enough to accept sitting on bloody chair after each factional wars.

The most deficits, corrupt, and heartless leaders to their cores preside over South Sudan. As results, innocent lives are being lost. If South Sudanese do not wake up and depose their garbage, we will always be in precarious environment. The people of South Sudan are not enemies; they are friends and good citizens. Leaders are the enemies of South Sudan.

The investors left South Sudan, and our economy suffered immensely. We have lost trust around the world, and strongly affirmed with unanimity that we cannot govern ourselves.

The effects of war are both physical and psychological. Human societies are deeply affected by war.  The public infrastructure, hospitals and the very basis of human existence are destroyed in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity States, and Juba. South Sudan experienced war when it was once fought with Khartoum and people faced many hardships and challenges to meet their basis needs. The War of Liberation Struggles took millions of lives and maimed as well crippled thousands of people that were severely wounded.

Wars bring untold miseries as well as political and economic instability. People's lives and daily existence come under threat. Very soon, it would be difficult to find jobs or live our normal day-to-day existence. Populations are displaced and have to constantly move about for security. What is happening now in South Sudan is dire reflection of the tragedy war bring.

Some are scarred emotionally and physically for life.

Thus, humans must avoid wars at all cost. The only way we can protect our lives and ensure stability in our country is to practice tolerance and respect for each otter. Or else, we too would become extinct like the dinosaurs.

Peace talk will not bring peace to South Sudan, educating citizens, and leaders on moral ethics and values of human being can bring peace. Educating people on the important of ethic diversities and its richness could transform strong ethic ties and ease ethic tension. The people of South Sudan do not need foods, shelter, and clothes, they are yawning for freedom, justice and healing, they need to heal from a long war.
Gabrial Pager Ajang, Political Science and History Instructor at Wright Career College,
He can be reached at

Sad Christmas and hopeless New Year in South Sudan

By James Okuk,

December 25, 2013 - De-celebrations of unhappy Christmas in many parts of the nominally Christianised South Sudan is real. No longer does the white angel says "peace and life be upon you!" It is only the black lucifer that has been saying "war and death be upon you!" The agents of the dark lucifer are now the very so-called leaders who used to sit in the front benches in the churches of South Sudan. Alas!

Instead of Christmas laughter filling the air it had been human blood and tears crying on the ground! The bad chicken has come home to roost so painfully. The whole world had to shake its head in disgust and throw up it arms in despair when it looks to the newly discovered brutal and brutish nasty nature of some South Sudanese. Vanities of vanity!

Is it the very South Sudan that thrilled us with the happy ululations of peaceful and successful referendum in January 2011? Are they the very South Sudanese who amazed with admiration the whole world in the evening, the night and the morning of the celebrations in the streets of Juba in July 2011. Is it any longer a joyful independence? Has it become a sorry leadership? Where did things start to fall apart? For how long are things going to remain fallen?

Cry my beloved country! Mourn my beloved people! It is indeed the unhappy Christmas that lost its meaning in South Sudan. It is a hopeless New Year 2014 that went back to the dark ages of human history. Not only have we spoiled Christmas and New Year for ourselves in South Sudan but also for the friends and concerned Christians/humanists worldwide. A bitter human paradox!

How do we bring the Republic of South Sudan back to the civilised age of human dignity?

It doesn’t make sense any longer to identify who killed who and who was killed by who. The more you make sense of sensless killings and counter killings the more emotional it becomes for demands for additional blood and painful tears spilling in South Sudan. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth has disabled South Sudanese with an ugly outlook in the face of the rest of the world.

It is normal in some ethnic cultures of South Sudan to emotionally fight and kill first before sitting down for logical dialogue later. There is no place for morality and future prospects. It is ’now’ and ’now’ with whatsoever cost. And the ’now’ has to be connected with heartless revenge, avenge and looting of whatever can be seen on the side of the perceived enemy or on any suspected crossings. The civilised world has not understood this yet. They are still theorising while things have fell apart and more are still falling apart.

When the madness of mass killings and looting stops, and when jungle justice had established itself, perhaps it would be the time to collect the human skulls in one place. The buried South Sudanese in single and mass graves have to be allowed to decompose and get dried up so that their skulls could be brought to a museum as a reminder in future.

It would be the time to tell the the generations to come about how dear lives of South Sudanese were not valued after the declaration of their independence.

In sad times like this political analyses tend to be meaningless. In deadly and anarchical situation like what the Republic of South Sudan is going through, narrating what had happened does not solve the problem but brings more trauma.

What is urgently needed now is not addressing the root causes but the symptoms first. That is, stopping the madness of killings and looting immediately.

But who is going to help South Sudan with painkiller in this tormenting moment?

The United Nations under Chapter Seven is limitedly helpful. Leave alone protecting the civilians but they are unable to protect their own lives from being lost in the trying situation.

The United States of America, the United Kingdom and the rest of nations can only afford to evacuate and protect their own citizens in South Sudan to a very limited capacity.

The Government of the Republic of South Sudan has been paralysed by its own absurdities and internal contradictions. It can no longer protect all its citizens with trust and without ethnic discrimination.

The rebels have taken Nuer’s ethnic dimension and they cannot guarantee security to the Dinka and other Non-Nuer’s ethnicities. For them everything is Upper Nile, Nuer and Oil. The rest will settle itself later. It is no longer SPLM or SPLA.

Hell has been left loosed and nothing is seen but atrocities after atrocities emanating from absurdities. Kalashnikov has to die naturally of old age on 23rd December 2013 but at the same insane time with South Sudanese. His invention of the most deadly killing machine known as AK47 has really facilitated the South Sudanese atrocities. What a man!

No amount of any eloquent speech could help now even if Dr. King Jnr., Mandela and Gandhi have to resurrect and talk to South Sudanese at this satanic moments. No amount of verbal or written statements could help either. No talk of peace could be a way out now except military intervention for more war of containments.

If Americans are really the friends of South Sudanese, they should intervene immediately via military means to stop the blood bath. The current heartbreaking situation shall not end except by more war. War from super power is the only strong message that will deter the waring parties to revert to peace in South Sudan.

I call for immediate military intervention from the concerned members of international community. There is no any other option left to save the remaining dear human lives in South Sudan. Can any World Leader hear me!

Dr. James Okuk is reachable at

Can South Sudan follow the footsteps of South Africa?

By: Amir Idris

December 24, 2013 - While people around the world are mourning and reflecting on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, and the champion of national reconciliation and forgiveness, South Sudan, the newest African state is descending into deadly political violence with devastating human cost. Indiscriminate killing of civilians, destruction of private properties, and disintegration of security, and armed forces spreading from the capital city, Juba, to other states. Disturbing credible reports indicate that the killing is largely ethnically driven. Recent figures estimated that hundreds of civilians have lost their lives and over 22,000 have been displaced, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group in Juba. These reports of killings and displacements paint a frightening picture of possible widespread communal violence which might lead to the collapse of the fragile state.

The ongoing political violence could have been prevented if the current political leadership, in particular President Salva Kiir headed the call for dialogue with his critics lead by Dr. Riek Machar, the former Vice President. The root causes of the crisis are political. The failure of reaching a consensus on contentious issues of democratization of the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) Party, the inclusivity of the government, and the implementation of the constitution and democratic principles are at the core of the political crisis. The future of the state of South Sudan relies on its ability to address these core questions through national democratic dialogue that respects the diversity of political views and their constituencies.

History has taught us that political violence is not preordained. Rather, it can be avoided if the underlying causes are understood by the political leaders of the polity. Political violence always has its history and politics. The ongoing political violence in South Sudan has a distant and a recent past. The distant past is the history and legacy of colonialism; the recent past is the absence of democratic governance. British colonialism institutionalized ethnic identities through the policy of indirect rule. Political and judicial powers were given to traditional leaders to administer their territories which are considered ‘homes’ of specific ethnic groups. This policy transformed flexible cultural communities into conflicting political communities. Conflicts replaced coexistence. Politics became ethnicized. Political disagreement turned into ethnic hostility and conflict. Hence, political demands were made in ethnic terms without regard to the national interests of the country.

When South Sudan gained its political independence in July 2011, sadly, the new state has not been able thus far to devise a workable vision to address these pivotal historical challenges and in turn has been unable to realize the political and economic aspirations of its citizens. Instead, corruption, nepotism, mismanagement of public resources, and the absence of law and order as well as the growing tendency of undemocratic practices has become the dominant characteristics of the national and state governments. Against this backdrop, the recent leadership crisis within the SPLM and the subsequent ethnically driven violence should be understood. It’s the failure of the state and its leadership in governing democratically and inclusively.

The painful lesson that all we can learn from the ongoing deadly violence is that the existing government has utterly failed to provide creative and imaginative responses that could have saved the country from descending into violence. The current state of affairs in South Sudan cannot stand; the first phase of the post-independence state is crumbling and cannot be held without major transformations at the political and economic levels. However, for the next phase to succeed, concentrated efforts have to be made by whoever assumes the leadership of its government to seek creative political strategies to lessen the ethnicization of politics and institutionalize democracy as a system of governance. If they do so, South Sudan would embark on an inclusive journey similar to South Africa marked by the spirit of reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.

Amir Idris is Professor and Chair of African and African American Studies at Fordham University, New York City, USA. He can be reached at

Taking stock of South Sudanese crisis

By Steve Paterno

December 20, 2013 - Finally, relative calm has returned to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, after the city witnessed blaze of gunfires and blast of rockets, which lasted for several days, in which the government reports was an attempted coup d’etat, carried out by disgruntled politicians led by former Vice President Riek Machar and his supporters.

Now, some few details are beginning to emerge and the most debated questions are as to whether there was really an actual coup attempt as claimed by the government and what will likely the future holds for the nascent nation of South Sudan. To have a better understanding of this, the issues must be looked at on a context of development of events leading up right into the crisis and then project how the future will unfold.

The last several months and weeks, showed flary of political activities by the so called disgruntled group, led by Riek Machar, a group consisting of individuals who were fired from their government positions and some of whom were awaiting investigation for insubordination and corruption accusation. The group grew emboldened in their tones and becoming more harsher against the President, with their criticism. They vowed to continue with political activism until the president relent and cave in on their demands. The group warned they will take whatever action necessary to capitulate the President. Now it is open for wider interpretation as to whether "whatever action necessary" entails a forceful removal of the President.

On his part, the President seemed to have been oblivious about the activities of this group, relentlessly targeting him. The President simply ignored them, referring to them as a disgruntled group without real mandate or even public following. Matter of fact, in span of this period, the President was largely absent from the nation, managing to travel in four separate countries. This would have of course ideally provided the alleged coup plotters to take advantage of the vacuum and oust the President in his absence.

However, it still remains unclear whether at the time there was a real plot to oust the President militarily or if there was such a plan, it might have still yet in pipeline and premature for execution.

The grim and fateful event of December 15, and subsequently, nevertheless, sheds some light into this mystery. The day was a conclusion of the meeting of National Liberation Council, one of the highest organs of SPLM party. This disgruntled group from within the party reluctantly attended the meeting and even boycotted some of the sessions, when the group found out they were not given platform to present their grievances. The meeting preempted the political rally of this group, scheduled on the same date the National Liberation Council meeting commenced. The group actually preferred this meeting to be held after the Political Bureau meeting, where they thought they could have a potential chance to overrule President Salva Kiir, also the chairman of the party.

At any rate, tension that day was exacerbated due to unfolding political wrangling within SPLM party, which was already built beyond fervor point. The most plausible account of that night is that certain section of presidential guards unit, known as Tiger Batalion of a Nuer origin perceived to be loyal to Riek Machar were about to be disarmed and in process, they defied the orders, and ended up over taking the military headquarters by force. The firefights then spread across the city, even at some point reaching within the presidential palace compound. The government then in its effort, launched a counter attack, pushing the mutinied soldiers out of the town and starting detaining suspected ring leaders behind the military skirmishes. Subsequently, several of such mutiny sprung up in several locations, particularly in Jongolei, where a powerful general, one Peter Gadet rebelled in support of Riek Machar.

Going by this version of events, the pertinent questions and plausible answers are as follows: did the government tried to execute disarmament out of a tip of a potential coup or it was acting out of precautionary measures? Was the government trying to preemptively detain those members of the so called disgruntled group? Did Riek Machar and group have influence over the military so as to mobilize them against the President? Were the disgruntled group coordinating among themselves and if so, does such coordination extended to military units?

These and many unanswered questions will ascertain matter factly as to whether there was a real plot to oust the President through a coup d’etat. For example, we can never know for sure whether the government was acting out of a tip of a potential coup or in a precaution, when it decided to execute a disarmament against members of Nuers in presidential guards unit. The President of course has a swiping constitutional powers to detain some of those disgruntled politicians at will, without necessarily resorting into violence as he is accused for orchestrating the violence by his opponents. The fact that the President was able not only to fire the entire cabinet, but also the top military brass with ease underscore this point. Besides, some of these disgruntled individuals were already under criminal investigations, where they could easily be napped through legal means as oppose to violence. Reik Machar among his group wields significant influence among the military, based on tribal affiliation. The question remains though whether Riek Machar was coordinating with those in military to plot ouster of the President. This is also a challenge for the government to prove whether those suspected politicians detained were coordinating with the military. It is already true in public that the group were coordinating among themselves. Their political activism and media statements during this crisis is enough prove that they were in concert with one another. It is also possible that the government was keeping tab on their communication channels throughout the time they organized as a disgruntled members of the party.

Therefore, it is up to the government if it intends to legally prosecute these individuals that it proves beyond reasonable doubt by linking them to the actual breakout of the firefight. Whatever the government decision in handling these individuals, it is obvious, there are going to be mounting pressure from international community for their unconditional release. Unfortunately, though, for these people, beside Riek Machar who is basking on tribal popularity, the rest of these individuals are lone wolves, without constituencies or any significant public following. So, the government is at a liberty to deal with these individuals in whatever ways it deems necessary. The situation already created a recipe for a civil war, though dangerously aligned along ethnic loyalties, with a potential of Rwanda style genocide looming in a horizon. Eventually, Riek Machar and the group will ultimately negotiate their ways back into the fold, but the critical question and way ahead remains, what will happen before then. The President already expressed a willingness to sit down and peacefully negotiate with Riek Machar and the group even though Riek Machar is calling on an overthrow of the President by violent means. In all of this, of course, some innocent souls are lost in process, properties destroyed and the the livelihood forever disrupted.

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

Press Release From Pagan Amum Family
by: Nyibil Amum Okiech Melbourne
Press Release date:18th Dece/2013 Yesterday the 17th of December 2013, around 12:10 PM South Sudan Local time, 9:10 GMT, the security personals by the order of President Salva Kiir, had stormed the house of my brother, Mr. Pagan Amum Okiech, in Thongpiny area (Juba Nabari) near Juba International Airport, adjacent to the UNMISS compound. Few hours later before drafting this release, I learnt that my brother Pagan Amum and his body guard brother Akol Opinyjwok were arrested and taken to security head quarter at Jebel near Jebel kujur area when he called his wife. 
Pagan Amum Okiech is former SPLM Secretary General and chief negotiator for post referendum outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan respectively.
Pagan has been under house arrest since the famous day 23rd of July 2013, when President Kiir, dissolved his entire cabinet, two weeks after Pagan’s comprehensive interview when he had criticized his own SPLM party and its leadership and described that they failed to deliver service to the public, which prompted Kiir to issues the party order suspending the SPLM Secretary General and prevented him from leaving Juba, not to talk in the public or gives a press to media which is a breach of transitional constitution of the republic of South Sudan.
Kiir also ordered formation of a seven men committee to investigate him. The family, public and international remained silent and patience during last four and half months hoping that these matters will be resolved amicably and the SPLMs are blend into a coherent unit and their ability to absorb differences to be their strength. 
We, the family are sure and to inform the world that our brothers Mr. Pagan Amum and Akol Pinyjwok are in the detention of national security premises in Jebel, no thing to deny about. 
We held the president of the republic Mr. Salva Kiir and the government of the Republic of South Sudan responsible for their safety. 
I call upon free people of the Republic of South Sudan who unanimously voted for their Press Release date:18th Dece/2013 Yesterday the 17th of December 2013, around 12:10 PM South Sudan Local time, 9:10 GMT, the security personals by the order of President Salva Kiir, had stormed the house of my brother, Mr. Pagan Amum Okiech, in Thongpiny area (Juba Nabari) near Juba International Airport, adjacent to the UNMISS compound. Few hours later before drafting this release, I learnt that my brother Pagan Amum and his body guard brother Akol Opinyjwok were arrested and taken to security head quarter at Jebel near Jebel kujur area when he called his wife. 
Pagan Amum Okiech is former SPLM Secretary General and chief negotiator for post referendum outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan respectively. 
Pagan has been under house arrest since the famous day 23rd of July 2013, when President Kiir, dissolved his entire cabinet, two weeks after Pagan’s comprehensive interview when he had criticized his own SPLM party and its leadership and described that they failed to deliver service to the public, which prompted Kiir to issues the party order suspending the SPLM Secretary General and prevented him from leaving Juba, not to talk in the public or gives a press to media which is a breach of transitional constitution of the republic of South Sudan. Kiir also ordered formation of a seven men committee to investigate him. 
The family, public and international remained silent and patience during last four and half months hoping that these matters will be resolved amicably and the SPLMs are blend into a coherent unit and their ability to absorb differences to be their strength. We, the family are sure and to inform the world that our brothers Mr. Pagan Amum and Akol Pinyjwok are in the detention of national security premises in Jebel, no thing to deny about. We held the president of the republic Mr. Salva Kiir and the government of the Republic of South Sudan responsible for their safety. 
I call upon free people of the Republic of South Sudan who unanimously voted for their freedom from the oppressor, IGAD, African Union, International community and peace loving people, to urge the leaders of RSS to solve their matters peacefully and to strongly condemn what happening in South Sudan. 
Signed by: Nyibil Amum Okiech Melbourne- Australia Contact: +61470369974, Email:
Sudan’s NCP: reshuffle and recharge

By Magdi El Gizouli

December 16, 2013 - After months of wrangling within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), the government declared its greatest ‘makeover’ since the split with Hassan al-Turabi in 1998/1999. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, the long-serving First Vice President, in office since 1998 with an interlude as Vice President during the period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), 2005 – 2011, was replaced by President Bashir’s confidante Bakri Hassan Salih, the only remaining member of the cohort of officers who led the 1989 coup in the circle of power. Hasabu Mohamed Abd al-Rahman, a native of South Darfur who served as commissioner of the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) during the height of the Darfur conflict and lately as Minister of Federal Rule, took over as Vice President from al-Haj Adam Yusif. Nafie Ali Nafie, the NCP strongman and assistant of President Bashir, lost his post to Ibrahim Ghandoor, and a majority of cabinet ministers including NCP stalwarts who had long recycled in the cabinet like Awad al-Jaz, Abd al-Haleem Ismail al-Mutaafi and Amin Hassan Omer were replaced by second-tier officials mostly promoted from administrative positions in the same ministries or called in from the states. Notably, the last remaining negotiators of the CPA and cooperation agreements with South Sudan, Idris Mohamed Abd al-Gadir and Mohamed Mukhtar Hussein, both state ministers, vacated their positions for new appointees. Likewise, the relatively younger al-Fatih Izz al-Din assumed the position of speaker of parliament instead of Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir who had held the post since 2001. Issa Bushra, the departing Minister of Science and Education was named as deputy speaker instead of Hajo Gasm al-Seed. Three prominent ministers though maintained their posts, Abd al-Raheem Mohamed Hussein in defense, Ali Karti in foreign affairs, and Mohamed Bushara Dousa in justice. Hussein has long been a target of severe criticism even within the NCP and in the officer corps of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) but continues to enjoy President Bashir’s confidence comparably only to the new First Vice President Bakri Hassan Salih. Hussein, like the President is indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in Darfur.

The perception that the reshuffle marked the strengthening of the grip of the military over power at the expense of the civilian faction of the regime seems overrated since the two military figures in the inner circle of power, Bakri Hassan Salih and Abd al-Raheem Mohamed Hussein, never lacked influence over decision-making, and certainly always had the trust of the President. Rather, the reshuffle, particularly when considering appointments at the level of state ministers, is suggestive of a shift from the ‘old guard’ of the historic Islamic Movement to cadres groomed under the reign of the NCP, a demand that has been repeatedly voiced within the party. Nevertheless, the promotion of Bakri Hassan Salih to First Vice President, preceded by his recent appointment in the leadership council of the NCP and the higher leadership of the NCP-loyal Islamic Movement lends credence to the idea that he might be picked as President Bashir’s successor. Such a transfer of power, although only a speculation, would secure an exit for President Bashir without the risk of delivery to the ICC.

While the opposition including Ghazi al-Attabani’s new ‘Reform Now Movement’ dismissed the reshuffle as a cosmetic measure and reiterated the demand of a ‘transitional government’ and the resignation of President Bashir himself, the government overhaul is likely to be welcomed by the rank of file of the NCP, particularly that it stresses the possibility of upward mobility for home-grown loyal cadres who do not compare in prestige and standing with the ‘old guard’, distinguished by their foreign doctorates and international exposure. This regenerative ability, limited as it might be, challenges the opposition parties on a level that the parties would probably wish to ignore, namely the long reign of their own leaders. That said, the response of the mainstream opposition was generally one of bewilderment, much like the reaction to the coup in 1989 mythologised by Tayeb Salih’s question in an Op-Ed published in the Saudi magazine al-Majalla in the early nineties “Where did they come from?”

The opposition simply had no idea who these new ministers were. In the press, only al-Intibaha’s al-Sadiq al-Rizeigy offered biographical profiles of the new statesmen. Rizeigy hit a nail on the head with the remark that the calculus of rule in Sudan had changed from the domination of the urban ‘effendiya’ proper, the types picked by the late Nimeiry over the main evening news bulletin from the power-spoiled Khartoum University staff, to the ambitious elites of rural Sudan. In the style of the Justice and Equality Movement’s Black Book, Rizeigy noted the increased share of Darfur, Kordofan, eastern Sudan and Gezira in the central government at the expense of the ‘traditional’ excess allotted to the River Nile and the Northern region. Salah Wansi, Rizeigy explains, lived most of his life in Kadugli and other towns of Kordofan. Simeih, the Minister of Industry, hails from South Darfur. The new Minister of Interior, Abd al-Wahid Yusif, comes from tiny Ghibeish in West Kordofan, Yasir Yusif, the new State Minister of Media, is a Gedaref lad and Farah Mustafa, the new Minister of Federal Rule, calls the eastern Jebel Marra home. From Darfur also are the state ministers Fadul Abdalla Fadul and al-Sadiq Mohamed Ali, the first at the Presidency and the second at the Ministry of Labour. Mutaz Musa, the new Minister of Electricity and Water Resources who displaced Osama Abdalla, considered a favourite of President Bashir, and Ahmed Mohamed Sadiq al-Karuri who replaced Kamal Abd al-Latif as Minister of Mining, both served under Osama Abdalla in the Dams Implementation Unit.

The NCP, expectedly, celebrated the reshuffle as an unprecedented and bold undertaking with no comparison in the Middle East and Africa, undeterred by the obvious fact that the overhaul also demonstrated the centralisation of power in the hands of President Bashir and the military officers at his side with the exit of all potential competitors from the scene. It must be noted that Taha, Nafie, al-Jaz and other prominent NCP seniors continue to hold seats in parliament as well as positions in the leadership council of the NCP. The new deputy chairman of the NCP, Ibrahim Ghandoor, spoke optimistically of a new era of dialogue with the opposition, stressing the government’s readiness to resume negotiations with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement in North Sudan (SPLA/M-N), a new push for peace talks with the Darfur armed movements, and the NCP’s willingness to settle for a consensual elections law to govern the 2015 vote. Commentary in the Sudanese media focused on the ability of the new cabinet to tackle the country’s economic crisis as a condition for the success of the change agenda. In any case, the last time the government underwent such a makeover, following Turabi’s ouster, the CPA followed. It remains to be seen what concessions President Bashir and the officers at his side are ready to make this time to secure the reign of a regime that has arguably just undergone its third major mutation, the first being Turabi’s breakaway and the second the CPA and the secession of South Sudan. Nafie Ali Nafie expressed the ambitions at play in a speech to the NCP lawyers bloc bracing for elections of the bar association with Ibrahim Ghandoor, the man who just assumed his positions, at his side. Ingaz (the Salvation regime) has just reset its mileage to zero and started a new cycle, and will do so repeatedly till Azrael (the Archangel of Death) calls for the Apocalypse, he boasted. Nafie’s florid language could not dispel the ‘fatigue’ that has eclipsed over an Ingaz that has surrendered its ideological grit and organisational advantage, born of the experiences of the Islamist vanguard, to rely solely on the secular calculations of patronage and accommodation tied obviously to the promise of ‘developmental’ reward. Nafie’s script, it seems, was copied from the learning materials of the Communist Party of China, the NCP’s main interlocutor and model in party organisation. Unlike the Chinese rulers though, the NCP is yet to invent a retirement scheme for the Bringi (the number one), decorated with his ICC diploma. President Bashir who has effectively outmanoeuvred both Turabi and Taha, the sheikh and his captain, is the indispensable liability of the regime, Azrael indeed!

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

President Bashir: a historian at large

By Magdi El Gizouli

A confident President Bashir addressed a jovial crowd on Saturday in Garri, just north of Khartoum to celebrate what state media described as the 500th anniversary of Sudan’s first Islamic state, by all means an invented date marking invented statehood. Going back five hundred years brings the calendar to 1513, well into the legends of the pre-colonial Sudan. According to the President though, five hundred years ago, Abdalla al-Quraynati al-Qasimi, better known a Abdalla Jamma’, i.e. the Gatherer, managed to unite the ‘Arab’ tribes of central Sudan and forged a peaceful alliance with Ammara Dunqus, Makk (Lord) of the ‘African’ Funj. The alliance according to President Bashir the historian delivered the first Islamic state on the banks of the Nile in the homeland of the Abdullab around Garri.

Jalal Yusif al-Digeir, the President’s aide and head of the ‘registered’ Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a breakoff from the Khatmiyya-based mainstream DUP that draws largely from the Hindiyya religious order, the Khatmiyya’s historical minor ally, prepared the ground for the President’s pronouncements in fine effendi style. Digeir announced Abdalla “the first to lay the foundation of Sudan’s modern civilisation,” and “a pioneer who contributed greatly to the consolidation of the Arab-Islamic identity in Sudan, allayed tribal and local allegiances and united the Sudanese under a singular banner.” Whatever Digeir had in mind, his creativity is certainly remarkable, sufficient to astonish Abdalla himself.

The rhetoric served a purpose though. Confirming a lively rumour, the President told the crowd that his deputy, the First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, had indeed resigned his post “to make way for the younger generation”. Taha’s resignation is a foretaste of the government ‘makeover’ expected to be announced on Sunday, a process in the making for several months that has provided continuous fodder for speculations and fantasies in the Khartoum press. Whether Taha gave up office willingly or was forced to resign is guesswork. President Bashir in any case denied any strife within the leadership of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) stating further that Taha is in fact the engineer of the entire operation to refashion the NCP and its government for the future, in Taha’s own words the ‘second republic’, the political order of the rump (north) Sudan born out of the secession of South Sudan.

Why invoke Abdalla the Gatherer then? Once Hassan al-Turabi’s deputy, Taha assumed authority over the Islamic Movement after he managed to mastermind the eviction of his mentor from its political party, the NCP, in 1999. Taha was named First Vice President in 1998 against the will of Turabi who favoured Ali al-Haj, today a German citizen residing in Bonn, for the position. The arrangements of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement gave Taha’s position to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) late chairman John Garang and his successor Salva Kiir. Taha became the Second Vice President until the expiry of the CPA in 2011 when he bounced back to his former post. With Taha’s resignation not a single ‘veteran’ Islamist of standing remains in the khalwa of power, at least none who has earned the title of ‘sheikh’. Neither Nafie Ali Nafie, Deputy Chairman of the NCP and President Bashir’s senior assistant, nor Bakri Hassan Salih, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, the two men rumoured as candidates to replace Taha, have the material of a sheikh, the first a foulmouthed bully and the second a military officer on silent mode with no record of marketable ‘piety’ to speak of apart possibly from an alleged passion for ‘bango’ (weed).

Taha’s resignation arguably implies the final exit of the Islamic Movement proper from power, a process heralded by Turabi’s ouster, and its full replacement by the NCP mass. Rather than surrender the Islamic cloak to the likes of Ghazi al-Attabani and the other ‘loud’ intellectuals of the Islamic Movement seeking a future apart from the NCP, the President’s gamble is to approbate the ‘Islamic’ trademark and popularise it under his sultanic authority, a strategy that his hitherto freed his power from the eclectic ‘internationalism’ of Hassan al-Turabi and the machinations of his lesser heirs. The investment in an appropriately Sovietised biography of Abdalla the Gatherer as a model statesman of the Islamic periphery serves precisely that purpose.

The President dismissed the available historical record of Abdalla the Gatherer as “Orientalist” garbage, and promised the crowd in Garri government-led efforts to correctively rewrite Sudanese history, then announced the establishment of an Islamic centre in Garri carrying the name of Ajeeb al-Manjuluk with the aim of countering the vices of drugs, illicit sexual behaviour, Westernisation and the internet.

The Funj Chronicle, arguably the only surviving ‘Sudanese’ primary document from the age of Abdalla the Gatherer, credits Ammara Dunqus, Makk of the Funj, with establishment of Sennar, a city-state that expanded to become a Moslem kingdom, after crushing the Christian rule of Alawa around the year 1505. Ammara Dunqus sought the services of Abdalla to fight the Anaj who competed with the Funj for the grazing grounds of Gezira in the vacuum of authority that followed the collapse of Alawa. In reward, Ammara Dunqus appointed Abdalla chief in Garri, theChronicle says. The Funj maintained capital in Sennar, while the Abdullab, the descendants of Abdalla the Gatherer, transferred their royal residence to Halfaya, a dynasty consolidated by Abdalla’s son Ajeeb al-Kafuta, known by his Funj title as Ajeeb al-Manjuluk. Ajeeb was appointed viceroy in the north upon his father’s death by Amara II of Sennar.

In Abdullab legend, Ajeeb is celebrated as an ‘Islamising ruler’ who appointed sharia judges in his territory and made land grants to holy men. Ajeeb’s ambitions extended to the Funj throne. In 1606 he led an army against Sennar forcing Abd al-Qadir II to flee to Chelga on the route between Sennar and Ethiopia’s Gondar where he found protection by the Ethiopian emperor. Abd al-Qadir’s brother and successor, Adlan I, rescued the throne after defeating and killing Ajeeb at the battle of Karkuj around 1612. Ajeeb’s heirs fled to Dongola. Reconciliation between the two sides was mediated by Sheikh Idris Mohamed al-Arbab whose tomb and mosque still stand in A’ilafoon, east of Khartoum. Two years ago, a bunch of Salafi enthusiasts set Sheikh al-Arbab’s tomb ablaze and dug up the grave of the holy man. President Bashir is doing the same with history, digging up ‘Arabs’ and ‘Africans’ from a fragmentary record of warriors, adventurers, kings and holy men.

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

Freedom of Press and Expression’s Icon, Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan

Awuol: The Article that Killed Him

Written by Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol and sends

By Gabrial Pager Ajang, 

In Memories of Him and his Words, for he shall live forever in our hearts and our minds.

Isaiah asserted that “President is to blame squarely on our lands being occupied by Arabs, and now he has gone further to sign away Mile 14. His statement that he will not cede an inch of land to the North comes too late, too little. We are not buying this belated chest thumbing statement from the man we all know his frequent promises. We know him better. No one has faith in Arbitration Court courses. Who is this that wants to fool us that the argument is not about land but military disengagement? Someone argues that it is just a temporary arrangement to allow forces to disengage and later on the border demarcation will determine the real owners of the land. That is a lie.Buffer Zone practice is applied when the two sides lay claims on an area. Mile 14 if it becomes a claim area, then we have already such claims areas where one side is left alone – recall Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is firmly in Panthou, Hofra El Nahas, Kaka and Kofi Kingi, why did the policy of buffers not apply there?" 

He went toe to toe with the President Salva Kiir by saying "How about me, sir, I was with you in one of the battalions (Tiger/Tumsah) you led, what will you say about me? I participated in the demonstration on Monday in Juba, all the way to parliament, to denounce the buffer zone dog for Mile 14. I went there but for reasons known to all. We had expected our lawmakers to reverse the arrangement on Mile 14 and go with the rest of the agreement.  To us, we thought that someone have given away our land in exchange for oil deal with Khartoum. The document should not have gone like that, people. Unfortunately, little did we know that Kiir has become another (Abyei Chief) Deng Majok who exchanged his ancestral land rights for a single meal?”

Juba leadership position on the Cooperation Agreement has started to be dismissive and abusive to those questioning some pieces in the agreement. Some of our lawmakers have joined the fray and are out to condemn whoever criticizes the agreement. They have even cracked as there are calling some sections of our society Northern Bahr El Ghazal people versus others. Legislators everywhere have a moral duty to protect the larger interest of the nation and not just their local constituents.

A constituent bigger like South Sudan is what binds us all. It was uncharacteristic, just unfair therefore for lawmakers to abandon local national pressing matters to specific individuals or groups to fight it out. Why leave the border matters to states affected, I have asked such question many times? MPs for the areas of Mile 14, Abyei and Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and Kaka are like any other MPs in Western Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, etc, whose lands have no dispute with the North. I found it cruel when the matters in question were left to people affected to sort it out, while the rest of the country goes indifferent. This should not have been the case. The issues of Mile 14, Abyei, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas are for the entire nation called South Sudan for Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Western Bahr El Ghazal, Western Upper Nile or Northern Upper Nile.

People everywhere are not happy that the negotiators allowed Khartoum a foothold on these lands. We have made a mistake to sign away Mile 14 under the pretext of a buffer zone. No amount of explanation will extinguish the fire of anger against the President and his team on this matter of Mile 14, Panthou and Hofra Al Nahas.

Abyei, Mile 14, Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and others are becoming disputed because some has entered them by force. These places are 100% South Sudan lands. Our negotiators succumbed to pressure, and hence a failed test for our leadership.

President is to blame squarely on our lands being occupied by Arabs, and now he has gone further to sign away Mile 14. His statement that he will not cede an inch of land to the North comes too late, too little. We are not buying this belated chest thumbing statement from the man we all know his frequent promises. We know him better. No one has faith in Arbitration Court courses. Who is this that wants to fool us that the argument is not about land but military disengagement? Someone argues that it is just a temporary arrangement to allow forces to disengage and later on the border demarcation will determine the real owners of the land. That is a lie.

Buffer Zone practice is applied when the two sides lay claims on an area. Mile 14 if it becomes a claim area, then we have already such claims areas where one side is left alone – recall Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is firmly in Panthou, Hofra El Nahas, Kaka and Kofi Kingi, why did the policy of buffers not apply there? The same way mediators avoided Panthou, Hofra Al Nahas and other lands that are disputed, where Sudanese Armed Forced are embedded or firmly in control, it should have been the case for Mile 14. Mile 14 has never been a disputed land as do the Southern occupied lands. Mile 14 is used by Rezeigat Arabs during the summer, demilitarizing it after Sudan Army was chased away from there makes it an automatic disputed land.

Badme, a disputed territory at the heart of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea was awarded in 2002 to Eritrea by UN backed Commission but to date the Ethiopians troops are firmly on the ground. Is that scenario not going to repeat itself in our case for Mile 14, Pantou, Hofra Al Nahas and other disputed areas? I do think so.

Majority of our people are stricken with fear that someone has not articulated well to protect the right of people on our land. We have lost out our rightful lands to Sudan through cowardly and ignorant decisions or both. Why is it that our leaders want to play politics in the face of an anomaly? This is arrogance at best and skullduggery.

Our leaders know where the truth is, but are not telling it. The issue of Mile 14 and other disputed lands is not a small thing for the head of state to dare sarcastically the people who oppose the deal to go to war. Sir, people will go to war with you first if you do not stop your clumsy approach to such critical matters of our existence. Khartoum has found a weak character they can manipulate.

In the face of challenges our president has clearly become another challenge to our people. Our people did not elect Kiir to give away our land, and then spew disparagingly at his disgruntled people. Mr. President sharpened his derogatory remarks against those opposed to the agreement during his address to security officers on Tuesday that those who are unhappy with the agreement are people who were with the Jalaba/Diaspora, and never had time to fight with him in the bush.

How about me, sir, I was with you in one of the battalions (Tiger/Tumsah) you led, what will you say about me? I participated in the demonstration on Monday in Juba, all the way to parliament, to denounce the buffer zone dog for Mile 14. I went there but for reasons known to all. We had expected our lawmakers to reverse the arrangement on Mile 14 and go with the rest of the agreement. To us, we thought that someone have given away our land in exchange for oil deal with Khartoum. The document should not have gone like that, people. Unfortunately, little did we know that Kiir has become another (Abyei Chief) Deng Majok who exchanged his ancestral land rights for a single meal.

Shame on Kiir and his cohorts! Kiir must go! He is a useless leader this country could have. His foul mouthing is not tolerable anymore. Get it right and just to emphasize the matter we are trying to say, we are not rejecting the Cooperation Agreement with the Sudan, especially for an agreement that will last for a few years. But if the matter touches land, it becomes so complex to clear even after the expiry time. The agreement is not all bad. People became happy that at least the oil production will flow again for the economy to resuscitate and that there will be relative harmony between Sudan and South Sudan, once belligerent countries.

But look, there are eight (8) agreements for the intended cooperation, but the one known as security agreement has spoiled the rest. The agreement has no meaning if the issues of Panthou, Kaka, Abyei, Hofra El Nahas and Mile 14 are not resolved. The security agreement should have been thrown out of the window by the lawmakers until grievances or grey areas surrounding these matters are resolved. This is where we are coming, the issues of land are so grave for anyone to dip his/her fingers into. Our president should own it up. This is what we are saying and he got to fix it. He failed to show leadership, so do the lawmakers in our land. Our legislators could have torn the document and made amendments before ratifying them.

What is this argument that if the president signs it the document, it cannot be challenged. Who is this god in South Sudan that when he does something it cannot be reversed? Whether Kiir or Garang signed it, people are more supreme. They can redo what has been botched for the good of all. Mile 14 and Panthou are sold out for no reasons at all. Oil or no oil, we have been cheated by a ruthless clique in Juba. To them the agreement is excellent, the agreement has not been understood, the media has failed to articulate it to the people, reactionary forces are behind the rejection of the agreement, insignificant number in our society, people who objected to the agreement are diaspora and that they also opposed CPA but later cheered it when the flag was raised. That is utter nonsense.

Majority of our people are not opposing the agreement for the sake of it but had hoped that the leadership in Juba would do the necessary changes before going for a law. Bad deals create more troubles than solutions and hence uncalled for under the face of realities surrounding our rights. My people have suffered under President Kiir and his heartless clique; I have no kind words again against these people. The demonstration we made as people of South Sudan on Monday, not as Northern Bahr El Ghazal people, will go down in history as the beginning of things to come.

Mr. President is not apologetic and this is worrying. The people of this country deserve a leader that respects their views. We have never had problems with him since he accidently ascended to power in 2005, because the situation dictated that people exercise patience. For the past eight years we have learned bitterly that Mr. Kiir is the problem and should be removed. He has failed us in many fronts, and on this matter of land he must not be forgiven. Our men in uniform in Mile 14 therefore are to remain in their places and let Mulana Makuei, Mbeki or Pagan come and dislodge them by force. AU must deploy any troops around Mile 14. We will see how to go about Panthou and Abyei now that someone is selling our lands to Arabs.

Gabrial Pager Ajang, Political Science & History Instructor at Wright Career College, He holds, BA, MPA and PhD studen

He Can Be Reached @

The quality of institutions and policies in South Sudan

By Luka Biong Deng

December 5, 2013 - South Sudan, unlike other countries that are still struggling to get accepted to the UN, was unanimously accepted to the UN. Such acceptance came as a result of the long political struggle of the people of South Sudan for their independence but importantly it came as a result of the commitment of the international community to the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Undoubtedly, the birth of this new state came with optimism that South Sudan will not only be a viable state but it will contribute in promoting peace and stability in the region. This optimism is based on the fact that South Sudan stands better chance to succeed because of the strong will of its people and the commitment of the international community to making South Sudan a success story. The real question is whether South Sudan living up to this optimism and putting itself on a path that would minimize the risk of being prone to the traps of conflict, bad governance and economic policies and resource curse?

There is compelling empirical evidence that came with conclusion that the quality of institutions is decisive in determining whether natural resources endowment is a blessing or a curse. As such, the presence of the resource curse is attributed to policy failure and bad institutions. For example the outstanding performance of Botswana as resource rich country is attributed to the presence of good institutions. Also Norway as one of the Europe’s poorest countries in 1900 is now one of the richest after the discovery of large natural resources because of its successful policies and good institutions. There are also examples of resource rich countries that failed to perform well because of weak and dysfunctional institutions such as Nigeria, Venezuela, and Mexico.

The performance of South Sudan as resource-rich country can only be assessed in the context of its institutions and policies. The Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) of the World Bank provides the most reliable and robust tool for assessing the quality of institutions and policies of every country. The overall CPIA score of South Sudan (2.1) in 2012 was not only below the average score of Sub-Sahara (3.2) but the lowest score in Africa. In particular, South Sudan has been less performing in economic management, public sector management and institutions clusters. In particular debt policy, monetary and exchange rate policy, revenue mobilization and fiscal policy are the worst performing clusters.

The real question is why South Sudan is performing so poorly in terms of institutions and policies after its independence? I would like to shed some light on the performance of some institutions and quality of some policies adopted after the independence in 2011. The performance of SPLM as a ruling party is important in explaining the poor performance exhibited by the government of South Sudan. The SPLM as the ruling party has not been able to provide guidance for the policies being adopted by the government of South Sudan.

Most of the policies adopted by the government of South Sudan are policies formulated by individuals in various ministries without any political guidance and direction. Even the current constitution of the country was not internalized within the structures of the SPLM before it was passed by the parliament. The SPLM as a ruling party seems to be focusing more on leadership than providing direction and right policies for the government to meet the aspirations of the people of the South.

It is even not known now whether the SPLM exists as some of its leaders cast doubt with rather conflicting statements on the legitimacy of the current structures of the SPLM. While the SPLM Secretary of Foreign Relations and ironically the Minister of Information confirmed that the structures of the SPLM are null and void as allegedly directed by the Chairman of the SPLM or by an order to be issued, the SPLM Second Deputy Chairperson indicated that the SPLM structures are not dissolved and the long awaited meeting of National Liberation Council will be convened on 9th December. One wonders how such a meeting will take place without the meeting of the SPLM Political Bureau.

Whatever the case, a serious damage has been done to the image of the SPLM as a ruling party that is expected to set a good example in respect of its institutions and constitution. Dissolving the structures of the SPLM will not only be unconstitutional but it will be a political suicide that may create political unrest and instability. With tainted image and the dysfunctional institutions of the SPLM, the people of South Sudan are right to indicate in the opinion poll that their country is not heading to a right direction.

The recent outcry about the devaluation of the currency shows vividly the weak institutions and unstructured decision making process in South Sudan. There is wealth of evidence that suggests the flexible exchange rate policy is the appropriate policy option for the resource-rich countries as that would ameliorate the negative impact of weak fiscal discipline and the volatility of government expenditures that are currently experienced by the economy of the South. It does not require a sophisticated economic reasoning to figure out that the fixed foreign exchange policy adopted by the Central Bank has been hurting the economy. As mentioned earlier, the quality of monetary and exchange rate policy adopted by the Bank is one of the worst performing policies.

In fact this fixed exchange rate system has resulted in well-connected individuals to benefit from the premium between official and market exchange rate and led to a substantial redistribution of oil wealth and rent-seeking. Some reliable sources estimated that what the South is losing from this discrepancy between official and market exchange rates may exceed its aggregate foreign aid and assistance. Although the timing of the decision might have triggered nationalistic concerns, the Bank was right in its much-awaited decision to devalue the currency.

The way the decision of the Bank was reversed raises fundamental question of how institutions function and decisions are made in South Sudan? The Constitution provides for the establishment of the central bank as an independent corporate legal entity responsible for the formulation, conduct and implementation of monetary policy. The Constitution also provides for the establishment of the Board of Directors of the Bank as the highest policy-making body and to be responsible to the President. The wisdom of having central banks as an independent corporate legal entity is to ensure their decisions are guided by rigorous economic analysis and rationale rather than political interests.

Regardless whether the decision of the Bank to devalue the currency was right or wrong, it was unconstitutional to force the Bank to reverse its decision. The Parliament has not only passed the Constitution and the Bank of South Sudan Act that established the Bank but it also approved with two-third majority the appointment of its Governor and two deputy governors. In fact the parliament did not question their competence and expertise when entrusting them to head the Bank. This intervention by the Parliament in the affairs of the Bank raises fundamental question of how will the Bank function in the future as an independent corporate legal entity. The Parliament has almost assumed the role of the Board of Directors of the Bank in formulating monetary policy as mandated by the constitution.

As the issue of exchange rate policy is technical, the parliament would have subjected this issue to an in-depth scrutiny by its specialized committee before taking any decision. It seems the decision making process by the Parliament as provided for in the conduct of business regulations has not been followed. This reminds me the way the current Speaker was overwhelmingly elected by the Parliament but without adherence to the process provided for in the conduct of the business regulations. As parliament represents the will of the people, it is expected more than any other institutions in South Sudan to uphold constitution, protect institutions and respect of rule of law.

With this account, one is afraid that the Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) score of South Sudan will deteriorate further in 2013. The optimism about the future of South Sudan is gradually fading away. The leadership of the SPLM, in the name of the selfless sacrifices of its martyrs, has a national obligation to reverse this trend by upholding the structures and constitution of the SPLM as the basis for consolidating unity and nurturing democratic culture within the party. It is then, the SPLM will be able to take the lead in democratic governance, strengthening of institutions and adopting right policies that will put South Sudan on the path of stability, good governance and prosperity.

The author is a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, he can be reached at,

Al-Mahdi and his futile alliance with Al-Bashir

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

December 2, 2013 - Omer al-Bashir and his ailing brutal regime have been procrastinating over the growing political crisis in Sudan for the last twenty-four years. Omer al-Bashir, the head of the National Congress Party (NCP), wants to entice the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) into further fruitless tortuous negotiations and turns to his ally Sadiq al-Mahdi, famous for indecisiveness for breaking the political impasse. As for as the Sudanese people are concerned, this is akin to a jump from a frying pan into a fiery fire. Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi has played a catalytic role for the survival and continuation in power of the genocidal NCP regime. 

His incessant scaremongering orchestrated the myth that departure of the NCP regime would result in chaos, Somalisation/Balkanisation, of the remaining Sudan.

The NCP has squandered over forty peace agreements it signed with various Parties in the Sudanese crises. 

The ruling regime of the National Islamic Front (NIF) and its offshoots are renowned for their deliberate failings to honour contracts and peace agreements entered into and signed with other parties. Al-Mahdi’s positions have proved politically costly to his party and his constituents over the years. 

The blurred political positions of Sadiq al-Mahdi and his unlimited support of the policies of the NCP have led him to lose credibility and hurt the unity of the Sudanese opposition and weakened their resistance across eras. Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi’s indecisiveness cost the people of Sudan the time that was lost in vain, making them look weak and unprincipled.

A journalist wrote, “Sadiq al-Mahdi ravaged Sudan”. He did not only ravage Sudan but also gave an extra lifespan for the owners of his grace in the NCP. The reporter, said in his concluding remarks, “therefore, without defamation or reap, that Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi is the largest vandal for the Sudan’s fundamental politics. When people’s baffling increased and more flabbergasted by the unprecedented volatile political positions taken by Mr.

al-Sadiq al-Mahdi especially his absolute support for the NCP, an elderly wise man told them to read the political history of al-Mahdi to know more about the facts of his personality. He indicated that would uncover as to why al-Sadiq behaves as such besides getting answers to the questions along with learning lessons and admonitions for future dealings with him. The prudent man said that the science of recorded history stands out as a judgement of the past and lesson for the future. To explain this, he pointed out the following:

• The first position Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi assumed after graduating is the Prime Minister after the electoral Constituency of Jabalain vacated for him and deposing the then Prime Minister Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mahjoub. Al-Mahdi sat in Mahgoub’s place without any previous experience. He started working to perpetuate the party presidency and the leadership of the affairs of supporters in his grip, without taking into account the separation of politics from the affairs of Ansar religious / sect; and without regard to any partisan or institutional hierarchy even with his uncle Imam al-Hadi Abdulrahman al-Mahdi. Thus, he spectacularly failed in his prime mission of taking care of the state and in establishing of a foundation of inclusive democracy and justice in the country. 

• Mr. al-Mahdi did not provide any services for the development of areas of influence of the Umma Party in Darfur, Kordofan and, Blue Nile. He kept the citizens there in ignorance without education in their transgression to serve many economic projects of the al- Mahdi dynasty and exploited them in the form of forced/bonded Labour in agricultural projects.

• In the Nuba Mountains area, al-Mahdi kept the taxation laws , which are called Digueniah (Head Tax), notorious policy of forced Labour imposed since the era of colonialism and has been applied even after independence for a long period and did not work or even trying to remove it, despite the content of the exploitation and humiliation and contempt for the people of the region.

• Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi buried democracy alive in the Umma Party and then devoted his efforts to move his style to the other political parties and nascent organizations so as not to develop democracy.

• Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi is the first to establish tribal militias in Sudan under the so-called forces Murahelin. He armed and funded the militias and then handed them over to the NCP who codified and legitimized and transformed them into the notorious militias of Popular Defence Forces (PDF), the Border Guards (BG). These unruly militias are now enforced by include Janjaweed forces, mercenaries, extremist groups and remnants of Al-Qaeda.

• Sadiq al-Mahdi is the first to seek the help of foreigners to create the so-called Arab belt; under the pretext of spreading Islam and the Arabic language in Sudan, especially in contact zones between the north and the south and in the south Sudan itself, and this was the seed of discord in Darfur between the so-called ‘blue/black’- so-called Zurga and Arabs.

• Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi is the first to cooperate with overseas participants to lead a failed coup attempt famously known as the “Mercenary Invasion “I n July 1976, with money and support from dictator al –Gaddafi. In spite, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi is the first to denounce the Operation Long Arm (OLA) carried out by the Darfuri rebel group, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by the late Dr. Khalil Ibrahim Mohammed, on Omdurman, to overthrow the criminal military junta regime of al-Bashir on 10 May 2008.

• After his leadership of the National Front, and after a failed attempt to invade Khartoum, Sadiq al-Mahdi dived into the arms of the military government of May for a ‘national reconciliation’, and signed a lone agreement with Jaafar Nimeiri in the city of Port Sudan away from his companions in the opposition.

• Mr. al-Sadiq al-Mahdi promised to remove the infamous September laws to promote national unity, but he did not do that. Even worse, he entered into a coalition government with the National Islamic Front (NIF), led by the Godfather of Muslim Brotherhood, Dr. Hassan Abdullah al-Turabi and kept the laws to continue and maintained those notorious laws to continue until today for the humiliation of the Sudanese women.

• During his rule of Sudan as a Prime Minister, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi missed the chance and opportunity to join the peace agreement signed between Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Dr. John Garang Mabior. With his indecisiveness and bias against the peace camp, al-Mahdi chose to stand with the extremists and against the wishes of the people of peace, and the majority of the people of Sudan.

• Sadiq al-Mahdi was thought to have handed over power to al-Bashir, the leader of the 30th June 1989 Coup d’état, despite his knowledge of the coup plot and possibly zero hour, but he did not do anything, neither before nor after the coup against his own elected government.

• After the departure of the opposition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the intensification of its activity came to them al- Sadiq al-Mahdi in the opaque process that was fabricated and dubbed “Tahtadoon - Guided ", and soon embarked on a block and brake activities of the opposition by claims of restructuring. Everybody knows what restructuring, and between the blink of an eye that surprised the people, al-Sadiq returned to Khartoum to fall in the arms of the NCP and sign the Djibouti Conventions or the so called” Home call” in 1999, which he described as “he went to hunt a rabbit , instead hunted an elephant”! 

• And at the time, no one believed him; nevertheless, he received billions of pounds and succeeded to hire his two sons, and the signature of the “National compromise convention” in 2008 in Omdurman and thus al-Sadiq al-Mahdi succeeded to thwart the work of the opposition aptly.

• Then the opposition returned home and reunited with Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi in the name of “national reconciliation” and agreed to work together to change the regime of the National Salvation Revolution by all possible ways and means, and they began the actual work, overt and covert. To the surprise of everyone, Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi continued his meetings with al-Bashir. 

• Not only that, but Mr. al- Sadiq al-Mahdi began issuing initiatives one after the other included: Home Call, the National Compromise (Consensus) Agreement, Cairo Agreement , the True Dawn , Freedom Ticket, the New System , Broadband Sudan, .......... , and modulating the desire of the masses from "The people want to overthrow the regime" to his motto of "The people want a new system" - and before one of his initiatives achieved or arriving at a feasible result, Mr. Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi would jump up to new ones!

• The position of Sadiq al-Mahdi during 23rd September 2013 glorious uprising conducted spontaneously by a passionate youth who were anxiously concerned of their families, whose livelihoods became narrowed and hardship of life hit them hard as a result of the actions and financial decisions of recent increase in fuel prices; instead of standing with them in his leadership capacity and helping in the organization of the demonstrations, al- Sadiq al-Mahdi’s position was less than what is expected. 

He was described as shameful and droopy and leaving the protestors pray for al- Bashir regime’s weapons at the hands of his militia and mercenaries of his ilk. Furthermore, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, unashamedly, still argues that there is no alternative to the NCP regime. Moreover, his fear that the country was slipping into a wave of violence and chaos and waiting to the worse to follow if the Sudan Revolutionary Front participated in the popular uprising! All of that was considered the fabric of his imagination and illusions.

• Above all, Mr. al- Sadiq al-Mahdi is fueling racism in Sudan through his negative attitude about the people of the Western Sudan, Darfur and Kordofan, and the marginalised people in general and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan – north, the SRF in particular. Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi went into a frenzy of racist accusations against the SRF describing it as anti-Islam, Anti-Arabs, anti-River Nile Sudan and intent on collaboration with foreign powers.

• Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi has forgotten that he laid the foundations for seeking help of the foreigners. Nevertheless, he continues to the public through fictional unjustified nonsensical rubbish to Intimidate people to believe that the Sudanese Revolutionary Front extremist with racist intentions against Islam and against the Arabs and Muslims and that the armed opposition cooperates with foreign countries. In that, he seems to have forgotten it was he who laid the foundations of help from foreigners!

• The question, which imposes itself, is whether Omar al-Bashir is still counting on al-Sadiq al-Mahdi to resolve the complex issues of Sudan after reflecting on what have been listed in the history of his failures and along with his dishonored political positions as a n Imam for the Ansar Sufi sect.

• Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi tries to find justifications for criminals to evade accountability by suggesting the South African model that adopted reconciliation and forgiveness after the confessions of perpetrators and victims; so-called truth commissions and reconciliation CONVENTION FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICA (CODESA). CODESA, which al-Sadiq al-Mahdi seems to be infatuated with will not be accepted in Sudan where genocide has been among the crimes perpetuated.

• Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi - without modesty - suggests the Apartheid model, which applied in the (racial discrimination) state of South Africa in Sudan as a service to the NCP to achieve the chance of impunity and escape accountability and punishment for the criminal perpetrators: Omar al-Bashir, Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussein, Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Ali Abd Rahman Kosheib and their ilk. 

They have committed the most heinous crimes the world witnessed in the right of the people of Sudan in Darfur who were the supporters of the Umma Party during general elections, and a large number of them belong to the Sudanese Ansar religious sect.

• The Model that dealt with the legacy of Nazi Germany and was based on the trial and the mop and the exclusion of members of the Nazi party that model remains fit to apply to the criminals of the NCP in Sudan.

• The contemptuous attitude of Sadiq al-Mahdi towards the citizens in the marginalised regions of Sudan and represented by the SRF in coalition with the National Consensus Forces (NCF) and all the Sudanese people will go ahead with the Revolution to overthrow the NCP regime and dismantle its militias and security institutions. 

This will be followed by immediate cessation of war, agreement on the Transition Period, formation of a Transitional Government for a specific period, Population Census, Constitutional Conference to reach a Permanent Constitution for Sudan, free and fair Nationwide General Elections under international supervision and hand over Power to a Democratically elected Government. 

The money wasted in wars will be used instead for public services and the reconstruction of the war-ravaged infrastructure and development. The application of Transitional Justice for the trial of the perpetrators of the heinous crimes follows. Efforts will be exerted to return the public money looted by corrupt elements of the NCP regime to be employed for the welfare of the deprived people. 

The world would be a safe place to live in in the absence of the racist minority NCP regime led by the genocidal fugitive from the international justice, Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir who has been rejected and avoided by the citizens of the free world as if he were a mangy!

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

Open letter to President Obama on the bombing Darfur

An open letter to President Obama on the bombing of North Sharafa, East Jebel Marra (Darfur)

From Eric Reeves, 30 November 2013

To President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama:

The moral failure of your administration to respond to the continuing mass atrocities perpetrated by the current regime in Khartoum (Sudan) grows daily, and has done so for the past five years. Your refusal to condemn, in the strongest terms, the continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party tyranny stands in stark contrast to your urgent words as a Senator, as a presidential candidate, and as an elected President. As a senator in 2004, you called the atrocities in Darfur “genocide.” You said so again as a presidential candidate in 2007 and chided the Bush administration for its accommodation of Khartoum. Invoking Rwanda and Bosnia as justification for humanitarian intervention in Darfur, you said, “The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes.” You declared further,

“When you see a genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us, a stain on our souls. .?.?. We can’t say ‘never again’ and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.” (Video recording available at:; all emphases have been added) And as President you again characterized Darfur as the site of “genocide.”

But despite such strong language, your administration has come to substitute words of appeasement, feigned ignorance of atrocity crimes, and a grotesque moral equivalence between Khartoum and its adversaries, one that would put in balance the regime’s genocidal destruction and the actions by the various rebel groups that have emerged to resist Khartoum’s tyranny. Your first special envoy to Sudan arrived declaring his strategy for confronting the regime’s génocidaires in words that have become synonymous with diplomatic absurdity:

“We’ve got to think about giving out cookies,” said [Scott] Gration, who was appointed in March. “Kids, countries—they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.” (Washington Post [el-Fasher, Darfur], September 29, 2009).

In March 2009 the Khartoum regime expelled from Darfur thirteen of the world’s finest humanitarian organizations, then providing roughly half the total international humanitarian capacity for millions of people. Your surrogate

diplomatic representative—then-Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry—declared in the wake of Khartoum’s ruthless expulsions:

“We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent [humanitarian] capacity,” said [Senator John] Kerry. (Reuters [el-Fasher], April 17, 2009).

This was a cruel lie, as Kerry and everyone within the humanitarian community working in Darfur well knew. Indeed, this was such transparent mendacity that even now it carries the stench of supreme expediency.

Your second special envoy, Princeton Lyman, declared in late June 2011 that there wasn’t enough evidence to support reports of massive, ethnically-targeted killings of Nuba civilians in South Kordofan. But in fact, overwhelming evidence was pouring out of Kadugli (capital of the region) making all too clear the nature of atrocity crimes, which amounted to incipient genocide. Again, this scepticism bears the stench of unforgiveable expediency, the more so since a UN human rights report on the events of June 2011 in South Kordofan—based on evidence gathered by UN human rights investigators on the ground at the time—confirmed what all sources were declaring with increasing urgency throughout this terrible month. Lyman’s disingenuous scepticism worked to convince Khartoum that the U.S. was not particularly concerned about a reprise of the genocidal campaign by this same Khartoum regime against the people of the Nuba in the 1990s.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that in the unseemly rush to secure continuing cooperation from the Khartoum regime on counter-terrorism intelligence, you and your administration have repeatedly and wilfully ignored reports of the most conspicuous and brutal crimes committed by this regime, or at least decided not to speak publicly about them in any meaningful or consistent way. And here your almost total silence over the deliberate bombing of civilians—even as every such military action is a war crime, and in aggregate constitute crimes against humanity—is most shameful, and most persistent.

Since 1999 the have been more than 2,000 confirmed reports of deliberate aerial attacks on civilian and humanitarian targets in greater Sudan; the actual number of attacks is very likely many times this, and continues to grow rapidly. This is unprecedented in the history of aerial warfare: never before has a military power been able to bomb with impunity its own civilians relentlessly, systematically, and deliberately during a detailed and lengthy reporting period, now extending over 15 years. While most of the attacks have been by Antonovs, Khartoum has also deployed highly accurate military jet aircraft, long-range missiles, and helicopter gunships, which were used with particular destructiveness in the early years of the Darfur genocide. On any number of occasions, helicopter gunships have fired on civilians with heavy machine-guns and rockets from extremely close range.

I write on this occasion moved not by the singularity of a particular bombing attack that occurred yesterday, but rather by its horrific familiarity. Radio Dabanga, an extraordinarily important, indeed singular source of news from Darfur, reports today that on Friday, November 28, 2013:

Idean North Sharafa in East Jebel Marra [in the center of Darfur], an Antonov ["bomber," i.e. retrofitted cargo plane with no militarily useful accuracy] bombed three farmers, at about 5.30pm on Friday [November 29, 2013]. The two men and a woman were riding a horse cart from their farm to their homes in Sharafa village. The three farmers and their horses were killed immediately. The names of the three farmers are Hashim Abakar Mohamed, Mustafa Eisa, and Hanan Saleh Juma.

Such criminal bombings—directly violating a UN Security Council resolution as well as international law—are a virtually daily occurrence in East Jebel Marra, part of a massif in central Darfur serving as stronghold for one of the rebel groups in Darfur, now linked throughout Sudan in the form of the Sudan Revolutionary Front. But Khartoum is not attacking military forces: it is deliberately attacking civilians in an effort to compel surrender or displacement or starvation of the remaining rebel forces. There is no other conclusion to be reached, given the inherent inaccuracy of the Antonov “bombers,” which fly at very high altitudes and simply roll crude, shrapnel-loaded barrel bombs out the cargo bay without benefit of any sighting mechanism. Such attacks continue occur throughout Darfur.

Antonovs are transparently instruments of civilian terror and destruction—as they are in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, areas where bombing attacks are also continuously reported, and with particular authority from the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan. There a campaign of civilian annihilation continues unabated as agricultural production has been brought to a halt by the fear of continued bombardment. A similarly grim narrative is playing out in Blue Nile and the result is some 300,000 refugees fleeing to South Sudan and Ethiopia, leaving behind more than one million civilians at acute risk of disease and starvation according to UN estimates.

Where are the voices of condemnation? Here I mean not the occasional generic condemnations issued by your administration, typically qualified (and thus weakened) by inclusion of some other issue. What prevents your administration from condemning every attack on civilians by military aircraft, per se? The U.S. intelligence community certainly has the resources to confirm via satellite reconnaissance virtually every attack reported by Radio Dabanga or Nuba Reports, both of which are well known for their accuracy and ground-based reporting (many of their findings have been confirmed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Enough Project, journalists, and intrepid humanitarians).

Would it simply be too embarrassing to reveal just what we and the rest of the international community are tolerating? Would it be too shameful to make clear that, on the basis of geostrategic considerations, Syria is important while the people of the marginalized regions of Sudan are not?

Perhaps you will say that the “hybrid” UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has the responsibility for reporting and condemning aerial attacks on civilians. But this would only add to the disingenuousness of your administration in speaking about Sudan. For as you are surely aware, UNAMID is a complete failure as a mission, particularly in fulfilling it primary mandate of civilian and humanitarian protection: for some 2 million people have been newly displaced since the mission took up its mandate in January 2008—overwhelmingly as a consequence of continuing violence, directed particularly against civilians. You touted your support for a UNAMID-like mission in 2007, revealing either ignorance or an expedient desire to appear to be responding to the crisis by handing it off to an ill-prepared African Union Peace and Security Council, which had no dedicated military equipment or soldiers of its own.

Unsurprisingly, the poorly equipped and poorly led UNAMID mission is routinely denied access to scenes of atrocity crimes by the Khartoum regime’s security forces, as are humanitarian organizations, which struggle to work within an increasingly limited range of operations. Because of uncontrolled insecurity, the highly trained expatriate component of what was once the world’s largest humanitarian operation is down to 3 percent. Your administration issues only infrequent boiler-plate condemnations in response to serious violations of a range of UN Security Council Resolutions. Despite its elaborate website and nominal reporting duties, UNAMID confirms virtually no bombing attacks, no matter how egregiously in violation of international law. Additionally and symptomatically, UNAMID has for years said virtually nothing about the epidemic of sexual violence directed against girls and women in Darfur, despite the fact that there have been tens of thousands have been victims during the conflict, now about to enter its twelfth year. Your administration has been useless in highlighting these terrible crimes, which continue to be committed with total impunity.

UNAMID’s only virtue would appear to be that it gives the semblance of an international presence approved by the UN—at immense cost—and provides an excuse for not responding in the way you as candidate spoke about so passionately. UNAMID’s impotence, and its failure to deter aerial bombardment of civilians, is illustrated by another report of November 28, 2013 from Radio Dabanga:

Ten people were killed in aerial bombardments near Shengil Tobaya and Sharafa in East Jebel Marra. One attack took place a few kilometers from the UNAMID compound in Shengil Tobaya, while a group of 15 people was on their way to Shengil Tobaya after a visit to the market of Tabit.

A Sudanese Air Force aircraft appeared around 4pm on Friday, hitting the Toyota Hi-Lux that was transporting the 15 people, at Tangara, 3km west of the UNAMID compound in Shengil Tobaya. Seven of them died at the spot and eight were critically wounded. Several of them could not be moved due to their critical injuries. The relatives of the victims asked UNAMID to act quickly and transfer the severely wounded people to a hospital and recover the dead bodies. Yesterday evening it was unclear whether UNAMID had helped out. The victims are Abakir Yagoub Mohamed, Ali Ahmed Abdalla, Mohamed Ali Ahmed, Osman Adam Mohamed and Zahra Ibrahim. (emphasis added; the UNAMID compound at Shengil Tobaya is a significant one).

Will you and your administration continue to hide behind the diplomatic fig-leaf of UNAMID’s putative ability to halt what has become a grim “genocide by attrition”? In fact, the genocide proceeds apace in large measure because your administration has decided, as part of its larger Sudan policy, to “de-couple” Darfur from the largest bilateral issue between Khartoum and Washington: cooperation on counter-terrorism. That a senior official of your administration would use the term “de-couple” in speaking about Darfur and any aspect of U.S. Sudan policy amounts to declaring that despite the genocidal realities you excoriated as candidate and as president—when it was politically useful to do so—you and your administration are willing to set aside, bracket, and finally ignore this scene of unending human suffering and destruction.

Indeed, it is difficult not to see a direct connection between your silence about the ongoing and widespread aerial bombardment of civilians in Darfur and your decision to “de-couple” the region from what looms as the defining feature of your Sudan policy: an obsessive desire to retain access to the counter-terrorism intelligence provided by the regime that gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden from 1992 – 1996, the years in which al-Qaeda came to fruition. Let us recall also that this same regime continued to assist al-Qaeda long after bin Laden’s departure for Afghanistan, providing funds, diplomatic cover, and banking conduits.

Your administration’s calculations about the value of counter-terrorism intelligence provided by Khartoum have occasioned a good deal of scepticism among Sudan experts outside of government; in any event, these calculations are certainly made with full knowledge of what the regime continues to inflict on the people of Sudan. You and your administration also know that demonstrations beginning in late September of this year were met by the most brutal repression imaginable, with security forces given “shoot to kill” orders that resulted in some 300 deaths (many killed by bullet wounds to the chest, back and head) and some 2,000 arrests (many remain under arrest without charge).

Ordinary Sudanese are outraged at the economic shambles the regime has created, and are demanding that these hopelessly corrupt and cruelly self-enriching men be removed from power. And yet your administration seems to be bent on throwing a political and economic lifeline to the regime. Your former special envoy declared in December 2011, after Khartoum’s military seizure of the contested Abyei region (in violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement) and subsequent military assaults on South Kordofan and Blue Nile:

“Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Princeton Lyman’s response to a question by the respected Arabic news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat concerning Sudan and the “Arab Spring,” December 3, 2011)

It is the height of disingenuousness and expediency for your envoy to have suggested that the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party is in any way prepared to “carry out reform via constitutional democratic measure.” The regime’s response to the September/October demonstrations and political protests from all quarters provides evidence that could hardly be more compelling.

And yet at the very moment in which gross mismanagement of the Sudanese economy over the past 24 years, obscenely profligate military spending, gratuitous war-making on the marginalized peoples of the periphery, and massive sequestration of national wealth by the political elite has brought about economic conditions that make democratic change a real possibility, your administration seems intent on diminishing those economic pressures that the U.S.—to its virtually singular credit—has brought to bear since 1997, both through Congressional and Presidential action. Instead of tightening the very sanctions that increasingly threaten the survival of a regime that has exhausted its oil wealth in less than a decade and has no access to international credit or Forex reserves, we read that business between the U.S. and the regime is beginning to boom.

The Sudan Tribune reports (October 10, 2013) that Foreign Minister Ali Karti, after his meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “pointed out that several U.S. companies which applied for licenses to operate in Sudan were granted, which he said is an indicator that investments and commercial relations could overcome political difficulties.” And this would seem to be borne out by a series of reports from the Sudan Tribune and others:

White Nile Sugar Company announced on Sunday (November 3, 2013) that it has signed an agreement with the US-based General Electric (GE) by which it will receive parts and services for its billion-dollar sugar plant. (Sudan Tribune, November 4, 2013)

In a revealingly frank statement, Sudan’s foreign ministry undersecretary, Rahmatallah Mohamed Osman, declared in August 2013 that “U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan contain some loopholes which could be exploited to boost the economy.” Why haven’t those “loopholes,” if they exist, been resolutely closed?

Typically of dubious reliability, Khartoum’s state-controlled media recently made a specific claim that should be unambiguously confirmed or disconfirmed:

The managing director of [Sudan’s] Kenana Sugar Company (KSC) has disclosed KCS is currently dealing with 18 US companies licensed by Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the area of production, irrigation, and harvesters despite the US economic sanctions imposed on Sudan for 16 years…

Lately, an American company has submitted a request to OFAC to import ethanol from Sudan. Moreover, [the] U.S. has excluded gum Arabic from sanctions for its bad need of this commodity in nutritional and drug industry. US imports $40 million worth of Gum Arabic annually either directly or indirectly from Sudan. U.S. may want lift the sanctions gradually for face saving. (November 9, 2013)

Certainly the account is accurate in pointing out the exemption in U.S. sanctions made for gum arabic, an exemption secured over a decade ago through duplicitous legislative means by Robert Menendez, formerly Congressional representative from the district in New Jersey where virtually all U.S. gum arabic processing occurs. Menendez is now, of course, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The economic sanctions put in place by previous administrations and the Congress seem to have become irrelevant by means of “technical adjustments” to the restrictions supposedly enforced by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The question, President Obama, is why your administration has allowed this to occur? Is Khartoum right in suggesting that “the U.S. may want [to] lift the sanctions gradually for face-saving”? Or is the stealth lifting of sanctions part of a larger quid pro quo with the Khartoum regime? Is it of a piece with the preposterous claim by special envoy Lyman that this regime might preside over the democratic transformation of Sudan?

But however enmeshed in the complexities of U.S. diplomatic and political machinations vis-à-vis Khartoum, the countless bombing attacks against civilians such as occurred yesterday near North Sharafa in East Jebel Marra provide a certain stark moral clarity. Again, one of the regime’s Antonovs……bombed three farmers, at about 5.30pm on Friday [November 29, 2013). The two men and a woman were riding a horse cart from their farm to their homes in Sharafa village. The three farmers and their horses were killed immediately. The names of the three farmers are Hashim Abakar Mohamed, Mustafa Eisa, and Hanan Saleh Juma.

Your own refusal to condemn—regularly, forcefully, and consequentially—such deliberate attacks on defenceless civilians brings shame on our nation and makes it ever more difficult to believe that our foreign policy is guided by anything other than a ruthless Realpolitik.


Eric Reeves- Smith College - Northampton, MA 01060 .