By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
July 21, 2010 (SSNA) — There is every reason to say that the bumpy implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the former southern rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) could be enough reason to make the Darfuri rebels lose any faith in reaching a binding peaceful settlement with Khartoum any sooner. This supposition remains strongly supported by what might have come as a total surprise to many when the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir again reject the initiative announced by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) to mediate between the government and the two major rebel groups in Darfur.
Bashir’s press secretary Imad Seedahmed has already released a statement to the press confirming that the president won’t accept the mediation as the SPLM is part of the government.
The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has in the past reacted fiercely to any attempts by the SPLM to get involved in the Darfur conflict resolution efforts.
If anything at all this proves the scepticism the NCP has towards the Sudan’s First vice President and Chairman of Southern former rebels of the SPLM’s involvement to mediate between the Khartoum government and the two larger Darfuri rebel groups of the Justice and Equality Movement JEM and Abdel Wahid al Nur’s Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM/A) in a bid to convince them to join the ongoing peace talks in Doha.
However though the two Darfuri groups seemed to have welcomed SPLM’s move, the question that immediately comes in mind is how much Kiir and his colleagues could do and are practically able to offer in order to break the deadlock in the Doha talks. One need only see the way the Darfuri peace talks were set to precede beginning from Abuja, Nigeria and up to date in Doha, Qatar, and you can agree with me that it was intentionally meant to leave out the whole of south Sudan from playing any role in this crisis which in no time has made it to become the world’s best selling story.
It is thus not clear as to how realistic the UNAMID chief Djibiril Basole was taking into consideration his long experience in working with Sudan’s NCP dominated central government when he expressed his intensions to have the SPLM on board in the settlement of the Darfuri conflict to i.e. possibly convince the JEM and the SLM/A factions to reconsider their current positions and join the Doha talks.
The international media on its side has made millions of dollars from this humanitarian catastrophe. It has together with other stakeholders also benefited from the inherent weakness of the rivalling Darfuri groups who see no importance in having a unified negotiating team which in turn led to mushrooms of ineffective forums. This very negative position has also no doubt provided the NCP with their lifetime opportunity to play one group against the other, than seek any genuine peaceful settlement.
While Abdulwahid El Nur’s SLM/A strongly insists on first having a guaranteed peace and stability on the ground, and among other things the return of the IDPs to their ancestral land and homes together with compensations of their properties before they (SLM/A) join any peace talks, this was not JEM’s approach when it started the now stranded talks with the government of Khartoum; JEM however was of the opinion that it be the only group to negotiate with Khartoum.
Nonetheless there are new developments in the negotiation process, with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), an Umbrella formed of the other smaller Darfuri rebel groups already taking some strides in the realisation of some kind a frame-work for a settlement. Yet it is to be believed that none of what is currently taking place between these groups and the ruling NCP will ever make it to a full solution without the blessings of the two bigger factions – JEM and SLM/A.
It very clear that the NCP still looks forward to a military solution to the Darfur crisis and will no time soon take any serious steps towards a political settlement and this is why Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is repeatedly violating the cease fire agreements eventually forcing the different rebel groups including the JEM to have little faith in any talks.
As i write there is currently a massive military confrontation in Darfur, with an unusually report from the government army acknowledging a huge loss of 75 dead soldiers in its own ranks even though priding itself for having killed more than 300 rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement over the past weeks. One thing is for sure, and that is, the government is back on the offensive following the International Criminal Court’s announcement of the genocide charges against the Sudanese President.
As it stands now JEM which is the most heavily armed of the Darfur rebel factions; is bluntly refusing to return to the peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha thus bringing to a halt a framework accord signed between them and the NCP earlier this year. It is this group which took the battle right into the heart of the Sudanese capital two years ago and are now still capable of fighting the government troops inside and outside Darfur.
Unfortunately the Western media which in many cases continues to mislead, has it that the war in Darfur is led by ethnic minority rebels who rose up against the Arab-dominated government in 2003. This might be true in the case of one large rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction of Abdulwahid al Nur who is also boycotting the current Doha talks. But as for JEM and its leader Khalil Ibrahim, who was himself a National Islamic Front Mujahid from a tender age, the story should be told in better details lest Al Mujahid Khalil Ibrahim be allowed to walk away while his hands are equally blood stained like his one-time Compañeiro President Omer al Bashir or their common Grande Maitre, Sheik Hassan al Turabi. Yes for the sake of records and fairness, nobody can deny that Khalil Ibrahim was one day a jihadist who participated in scorch earth genocidal campaign in south Sudan on the side of Khartoum before finally falling off with the Arab riverans.
Under ideal circumstances a highly positioned political figure like Salva Kiir Mayardit would truly be positioned to deliver a contribution that would no doubt make a difference in the realization of peace in every inch of the Sudan. However although the SPLM gurus occupy themselves preaching Sudan’s Unity on a new basis; the insinuation of Islam in the country’s politics has meant that any national role the SPLM attempts to get involved in will continue to be marred by northern prejudice. But whether the champions of the United New Sudan Vision remain dedicated to their fabulous dreams and maintain their focus on achieving it awaits the response of Hon. Salva Kiir Mayardit and his party mates on how they take on Omer al Bashir and the NCP in as far as the Darfuri dossier is concerned.
From my own point of view, I quite agree with those who by all counts consider Salva Kiir as a reluctant politician, easily bored by political games of hide and seek and I don’t think that any of the parties involved in this crisis are likely to be impressed by any of his personal roles. Nevertheless his involvement at this stage may possibly benefit the other stakeholders by offering them with the necessary break they need in order to re-group and re-organise themselves.
I also trust that it wouldn’t escape Abdulwahid al Nur’s mind to realise that, Salva Kiir who may be meeting with his delegation sooner or later is not and was never in a position to pressure or convince neither the Darfuri revolutionaries themselves nor the Fascists in Khartoum into adopting any intermediary position. Sadly enough such a position never even exists.
Until south Sudan is through with the referendum, I strongly believe that the SPLM party according to the CPA remains in limbo on national issues, given the fact that it is stuck in this impotent partnership with the devilish NCP of al Bashir. It is only when South Sudan finally becomes an independent country, which is very likely; south Sudan’s regional role will continue to be overridden by Khartoum. Independence of south Sudan is thus extremely vital if our politicians are to have a say to boast the morale of the many marginalised people in the other parts of the world including the neighbouring northern Sudan.
It is now common knowledge that president Bashir who has a fresh genocide charge hanging over his head is only surviving in office because the Americans want to have him there. He has cooperated well with the US intelligence in the war against terrorism, they said. As weak and confused as he is now, the US intelligence would rather have him (Bashir) than go for another fresh terrorist, the likes of Nafie Ali Nafie or Ali Ahmed Karti. However my mere gut feeling is that this man (president Omer al Bashir) in his capacity as the Command in Chief, apparently deserves to be brought to book for his role in the scorch earth policies in Darfur and beyond.
I completely agree with comrade Abdulwahid al Nur when he clearly pointed out that this very NCP/NIF regime is also guilty of decades’ of genocides in Southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile regions, leaving too little sympathy for it in these regions. It is here that we take the crucial argument a step further as to whether it would be realistic for us to expect of the SPLM leader Salva Kiir to succeed in convincing President Omer al Bashir to cooperate with the ICC, a thing that will of course be much applauded by all the Darfuri factions. Or could he succeed to convince Abdelwahid to join the Doha and sign onto a document which will only turn him into another ‘Mini Minawi’? Or is it that First Vice President Kiir will succeed in making Khalil Ibrahim become less of an Islamic fanatic and proceed to accept inclusiveness with the other Darfuri groups and establish a unified negotiating position?
Whatever our expectations of Salva Kiir on the Darfur issue are, we must never forget that he is only being signalled into the game when those who thought that they had the only keys to the settlement of this rather complex crisis have practically failed. Bringing peace to Darfur can only make sense when the Darfuri factions unify their negotiating team. The Darfuri rebels as they stand now, I can bet that none of them genuinely ever want anything to do with a South Sudan which is already on its way to secession.
When late John Garang, the SPLM founder came out with a call for the liberation of the marginalised Sudanese people under what he called the “New Sudan Vision”, did they the Darfuris heed him? Of course not, and all that they saw in him was another southern infidel. Salva Kiir is still another infidel, and the best he could advise is that military victories never solve political issues and a break through with the north is not impossible as long as the Darfuris are willing to put their differences aside and negotiate as a unit.
I for one, I never intend to underestimate the First Vice President’s Public Relationship exercises, but the truth be said that neither the Darfuris nor the riveran Arabs who continue to direct the machinery of Sudan’s politics from Khartoum have any genuine faith for any southern leader and not least to Salva Kiir Mayardit who only visited the war ravaged region on no more than one occasion since he took up the top SPLM office.
“With your eyes on the elephant, yet you choose to spear the shadow”, this is the unfortunate state of affairs in today’s involvement of the international community in the Sudan, while claiming to be working to bring peace back to the country.
It stands to be taken seriously that the JEM has declared their official position not to any longer trust in the mediation role of the Qataris. However in a futile attempt to falsely impress the world opinion, the Sudanese government has immediately come out urging the international community to put pressure on the Darfur armed movements to join these staggering ‘Doha Peace’ negotiations.
Kamal Hassan Ali, a Sudanese state minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying: “We want the international community to practice pressure on the armed movements which reject to negotiate. They must be persuaded that the peaceful settlement is the only way out of the Darfur crisis".
He said while addressing the international conference on Sudan’s issues that took place last weekend in Khartoum.
"We want the international community to stress on Doha as the only forum that will lead to realization of peace and stability in Darfur and to set a timetable for the negotiations," he added.
From Kamal Hassan Ali’s statement it can be seen that the whole lot is about antagonism. For had the government’s negotiation team made it practical to retain the trust of the JEM faction who started the negotiations, then there wouldn’t have developed the current situation. Secondly the government’s obsession with the military solution which shows up on the ground in contrast to their diplomatic literature, fully makes it impossible for the Abdelwahid al Nur’s SLM/A to join in.
The 10,000 Darfuri victims to which the Al Bashir government have confessed to have killed and not the 300,000 according to international community’s figures are still worrying figures in this genocide campaign. If those figures were wild buffalos or some kind of untamed donkeys or any of those many animal species which now enjoy the endangered species status, the Western world would have by now swarmed the entire region of Darfur and practically taken over the salvation role in the name of animal rights.
The Zaghawa, the Masaliet and the Fur are already endangered species in their own rights. Their women, their children and the elderly have all undergone what the UN has openly declared following the charters ratification by the five permanent members on 24th October 1945, ‘never again’ should such things be allowed to happen. Yet it was genocide and it was allowed to happen in Rwanda, South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, the southern Blue Nile region and now in Darfur.
The 3 million lives lost to the war in south Sudan, would have also legally raised the status of its inhabitants to that of the endangered species if only they were not human beings and of black African descent. Even our famous Nile crocodiles appear to draw more attention than we the black African populations that inhabit the shores of this legendary river.
But whatever the CPA have and have not done, yet the continuous antagonism that continue to dominate the relation between the two, north-south peace partners relationship clearly leaves the people of the south with nothing to attract them towards maintain any form of unity with the northern Arabs. This very negative feeling of living in unity with the northern Arabs is gradually finding its way into the minds of the millions of Darfuri men and women who continue to languish in the IPD or refugee’s camps. Whether intentionally or not but as time goes, the Khartoum government is gradually pushing the Darfuris towards secession the way they did it with the south.
Before I leave, I don’t intend to impress people that I have it all, but I strongly maintain that the Darfuris are not all blind to see what is good for them. Having said this, the international community remains accountable for every drop of human blood that is shed by the marginalised communities in the Sudan in their struggle for a dignified life. We hope that the ICC that have today come out openly to condemn the Sudanese President, Omer al Bashir for his role in the genocide first in south Sudan, then the Nuba Mountains, the Ingasana, the Beja …etc, and finally Darfuri, retains the guts to challenge President Obama and the other world democracies on their soft approach on this unfolding human disaster.
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. A southern Sudanese citizen that can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com