Kamal Obeid’s statement is a build-up for post –referendum ethnic cleansing!

“Where are the civilized Islamic values claimed by the NCP given its Minister of Information’s latest Hate Speech”?

By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD

September 26, 2010 (SSNA) — Just one day after the much  publicized UN summit on the future of the Sudan, and all the beautiful speeches from the UN general secretary and the US President Baraka Obama stressing a timely and peaceful referenda in both south Sudan and Abyei, the world woke up to yet another, not only shocking, but a truly barbaric statement from the Sudan ‘s government of national unity [GoNU], official spokesman  – the Minister of Information (a northern Sudanese prominent Islamist and an NCP official), Kamal Obeid- when he in the most crude and ballistic theme chose to throw all his venom on the Sudanese citizens from the south, and how they would face the north’s wrath should the south vote to secede.

The timing of Kamal Obeid outrageous statement holds the key to the understanding of his hate massage which he made to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA), on the 25th September 2010.  This hate statement which represents the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) stand on the post-referendum relationship between the north and the south, no doubt confirms   the fears expressed by the US President Barack Obama when he said in that, “The fate of millions of people hangs in the balance. What happens in Sudan in the days ahead may decide whether a people who have endured too much war move towards peace or slip backwards into bloodshed”.

But before we examine the real fabric of the Sudanese northern elites who today boast of leading the nation in the path prescribed by God and based on the teaching of the Holy Quran, we will do much good to the followers of the faith by distancing any genuine religious claims to what the National Congress Party (NCP) a.k.a National Islamic front (NIF) stands for. In no way can Kamal Obeid’s recent remarks be down played as it totally undermines the ongoing post-referendum discussions being mediated by the African Union (AU) as well as all that which was agreed on in the New York summit.

“If they vote to secede, then they [southerners], will not enjoy citizenship rights, residence, jobs or benefits in the north. They will not be allowed to buy or sell in Khartoum markets.  And they will be denied treatment in north’s hospitals," Obeid said in statements carried by public radio. "We will not even give them any medical care in our health centers, not even a needle in the hospitals," he added.

This is a hate statement in every meaning of the word, of the magnum size, and heavily loaded. However it is the minister’s savage mentality that brings us all to question as to where does this leave the much claimed civilized Islamic values which his NCP is supposedly built on? it is only by  seeing  the ruling NCP through the behaviours of its prominent figures like Mujahid Obeid,  then can the world understand this monstrous regime that has preyed  on the helpless Sudanese citizens for decades and still continues to do so.

The first part the minister’s speech that denies the south Sudanese the citizenship of the new state of northern Sudan in the event of a secession vote by the south is understandable.  However the paranoia of denying southerners to neither buy nor sell in the northern markets, which sounds quite childish, yet their immediate and remote repercussions are one of a huge hatred campaign that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This if anything, is an ethnic cleansing in the build -up.

In the five decades of the north-south warfare, no one has heard of a hate speech the way Minister Obeid openly voiced it. By stating that southerners  wouldn’t be allowed treatment nor have access to needles in the hospitals takes us to image worse case scenarios where south Sudanese patients risk being abandoned by northern health care providers the moment   the referendum results are declared in favour of South’s secession. Are we going to witness patients being abandoned on the operating tables anytime soon following the January plebiscite? Is this the Islamic values that the NIF/NCP intends to export into the interior of East and central African in the event of their success in south Sudan? All those who read this article should take some moments out to analyse for themselves what has come out of the mouth of the Khartoum government’s Official spokesman.

It is more by design that default that the dominant NCP of President Omer Al Bashir who came back from the UN summit unsatisfied, is choosing to make no sense from what was said by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, when he said:

“Whatever the outcome, North and South must coexist peacefully. Sudanese, North and South, must negotiate agreements that reflect the reality of a shared history and shared resources — agreements on border management, citizenship, migration, security, debts and assets. These issues do not all need to be resolved ahead of the referenda, but it is crucial that a mutually beneficial framework for managing North-South relations is put in place quickly”.

Following this latest unfortunate development in the Sudanese politics  …….any unity that comes about by the way as propagated by the NIF/NCP Information minister, will no doubt represent a unity brought through intimidation and never a voluntary unity in any way as mentioned in the CPA. The Human Rights Watch however maintains that, the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and movement to polling stations for all eligible voters is essential prior to the southern self determination referendum. In northern Sudan and Southern Sudan, journalists and other members of civil society members have already expressed their concerns about their freedom to openly discuss outcomes of the referendum that the ruling party does not support. But now the entire southern Sudanese communities residing in the north are targets of state intimidation.

Given the sizable presence of southerners in the north and specially so in the capital Khartoum, any worrying and uncivilized statements concerning their welfare must call for attention at the highest levels including the UN as well as the US administration. The Sudan census of 2008 held the number of southerners residing in the north at 500,000 – a figure much believed to be an underestimate to serve the ill intended interest of the northern elites at the elections as well as the Power and Wealth sharing exercises. However the current figure as projected by the SPLM officials and never disputed by its counterpart the NCP put the figures of southerners in the north at 1,500,000.

In response to the worries of intimidation, and possible retaliation in the form of ethnic cleansing against the southerners should the region opt for secession, the government of south Sudan (GoSS) through its ministry for Humanitarian Affairs was quoted to have presented an ambitious program to repatriate all the southern IDPs back to the south prior to the January 2011 referendum. While the reactions from the prominent NGOs on the ground had been against the plan arguing that a huge influx of IDPs at this time will stretch out  the available scarce resources, the current position taken by the NCP to mobilize the northern public opinion for a possible ethnic cleansing against the southerners warrants an immediate re-visit of the repatriation plan, lest we repeat another Rwanda again.

As expected in such circumstances there have been a wide range of opinions from south Sudanese citizens worldwide in response to the new position adopted by President Omer al Bashir’s NCP. And most if not all of the responses have shown a great deal of political maturity as opposed to the official silence demonstrated by the so-called Sudanese political parties which seems to signal an endorsement or a naked approval of what should have received a maximum condemnation from all civilized people. However most southerners per their comments in the media, consider it not enough to condemn the minister in question, or even ask for an apology from his party, a thing which the south reserve the right to ask for, but they look for broader reaction from the African Union, the IGGAD, the Arab League, the EU and the UN to come out openly in expressing their disapproval of rightly is a ‘Junubphobia’ in the making. [Hatred against the south Sudan’s Right to Self-Determination].

The NIF/NCP Information minister’s statement was indeed irresponsible, un-couth and unethical, however a genuine one….typical of a bigoted mentality. Nobody should be fooled into thinking that what happened is a one man’s act. The truth be said, and what the minister voiced has already been in circulation for a while and it represents the general mood of the NCP members. Should south Sudanese citizens continue reside in the north after the South’s secession, they are much likely to witness the unprecedented wave of a massive ethnic cleansing campaign. People need to act quickly and before it’s too late. For those have no ability to repatriate   to the south, the GoSS leadership should take the necessity measures for an immediately to relocation as they are likely to become potential targets of hate crime should they continue to live where they are practically at the mercy of those Northern religious psychopaths.

Equally important, the GoSS must continue to uphold by the rule of Law, respect to Human Rights and religious values that constitute what the south stands for. It is our role as south Sudan to assure the Northerners living in the south that they will continue to be treated in accordance to the conducts of law and international treaties. They will have the choice to opt for South Sudanese citizenship like other few human beings who fulfil the basic requirements in accordance to the law.

So far the only open reaction from the SPLM came from the deputy speaker of Sudan’s national assembly Atem Garang, who is also a leading figure at the SPLM, when he was reported in Aljazeera.net website to have said that the remarks by Obeid are “selfish”, and ignores the fact that there are six million Northerners sheepherding twenty-five heads of livestock over 1,400 km across the North-South borders. But does the Khartoum based regime ever has any concern for those Arab Baggara nomads to whom Hon. Atem Garang is referring?  These nomadic tribes who mostly reside in southern Darfur and southern Kordufan will be left to mend up things for themselves. But the NCP’s primary intension at this stages it to scare southerners from voting for independence. And given the wide spread belief that the south is defiantly going to overwhelmingly opt for secession, Kamal Obeid’s threat of ethnic cleansing become more of a possibility that the international community must be ready to tackle through pre-empted actions.

The bottom line to minister Kamal Obeid’s uncultivated and arrogant statement clearly reflects the delusional mind-set of the religious zealots and a specially calculated move to express the regime discontent with the out-come of the UN sponsored meeting on the Sudan. it also highlights the NCP craving for a return to the north –south war in a bid to rid itself of the responsibility for its unbalanced policies that are responsible for the current state of relationship between the two parts of the country which is now at its lowest just a few days ahead of the referendum, in which the country will likely witness its first split into two independent states – and this could be the beginning of yet other splits to come in event of continued NCP rule in Khartoum.

The US administration needs to respond promptly and proportionately to what Khartoum has announced and ready to adopt as its political cornerstone and framework for post-referendum north-south relationship. The UN and the Human Rights Watch must never again underestimate what is a clear signal of an ethnic cleansing in the build-up. They must act and fast. Omer al Bashir and his rogue cabinet are desperate for survival given the many failures to get back into business with the international community. It is bit by bit losing its  grips on the many hotspots in almost every corner of the Sudanese state and many peripheral areas are rapidly moving away from the central rule. It all looks worrying to them……..specially having to put up with a Presidents who has a noose around his neck.

Last but not least the citizens of the north must understand that peace which ended the two decades of war was a Sudanese choice to settle issues peacefully after realising that wars were  mere tools of destruction that did much to complicate matters that otherwise would have been tackled by sober minds. Minister Kamal Obeid’s statements are outrageous and warrant condemnation from the north as well, if at all they are looking forwards to a peaceful co-existence and good neighbourhood with the South. On the other hand should the UN and the US administration allow the Khartoum regime to get away with such hate statements, then whatever they agreed to achieve in the New York summit on Sudan would have been blown up by this NIF/NCP gang of ‘desperadoes’. And unless the NCP openly refutes and distances itself from this irresponsible minister, his latest statements are not only enough to deal the last blow to the already gasping unity, but it in all its depths  represents the final nail in the coffin of any peace between the two sides.

The author of this article: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MB BCh DRH MD residing in the United Kingdom. He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]

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