April 12, 2015 (SSNA) — This is the seventh installment of a digest containing what I believe to be the most important stories reported by Radio Dabanga in the previous week. Radio Dabanga has been by far our most important and reliable source of information about what is occurring in Darfur, and provides a great deal more than the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the largely worthless quarterly reports of the UN Secretary-General.
This digest looks back a few days further to pick up important stories not included in the last installment of this digest; still, the oldest story here is dated April 2, 2015. On the eve of Sudan’s electoral travesty, referred to absurdly by the National Congress Party regime as “elections,” a considerable amount of news has been reported by both Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune; and while the number of primary stories included here, from both sources, is the usual ten, there are a considerable number of related stories that are important in their own right and have been included in subsidiary positions under various rubrics. This is still perforce highly selective.
There is a separate, concluding section on this week’s elections; perhaps the most important story comes today from Radio Dabanga:
Sudanese civil society call for nation-wide intifada, April 12, 2015 | Khartoum
The Civil Society Initiative stressed that the road chosen by the Sudan Appeal signatories, after the Sudanese government declined to accept the AU invitation to discuss the process of a broad national dialogue in the Ethiopian capital on 29 March, is a mass intifada. It called “on all sectors in the rural and urban areas” to support the Sudan Appeal and the uprising. “Only a nation-wide uprising can release Sudan from the grip of the corrupt ruling National Congress Party, restore peace, rights and freedoms, and rebuild the country based on democracy and equal citizenship,” the statement reads.
These words raise the prospect of extreme violence, as the regime has again given orders for its security forces to use live ammunition in controlling any demonstrations during the election period (“Any demonstration to be fired at with live ammunition”—President and Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir, as reported in minutes for September 10, 2014 meeting of senior military security officials). Hundreds were killed by security forces during the September 2013 demonstrations; Amnesty International has established that these forces were given “shoot to kill” orders from the beginning of the demonstrations.
All dispatches have been edited to some degree for length; any editorial comments on my part appear italicized in [brackets] and in blue; all emphases within the cited texts have been added. The reporting on the election appears at the end of this digest.
Eric Reeves, 12 April 2015
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL—and below
SUDAN AND UNAMID:
• Sudan Tribune |Bashir says Darfur does not need peacekeepers
April 8, 2015 | El Fasher
The Sudanese president Omer Hassab al-Bashir said that Darfur region does not need the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID), adding that local traditions and customs are enough to resolve conflicts in the region. [Al-Bashir is speaking her from the capital of North Darfur, scene of the worst violence the region has experienced since the early years of the genocide. That al-Bashir’s comments here are, on their face, ludicrous mendacity shows a wider contempt for the people of Darfur, of Sudan, and the international community as a whole.]
Following media reports late last year about mass rape in Tabit, a village 45km southwest of North Darfur capital El-Fasher, Sudanese authorities loudly criticised UNAMID for echoing the news. They were also angered after remarks by UN officials who called for further investigation, pointing to the heavy presence of military and police during the first probe. Since then, Sudan refused to authorise a second investigation and called publicly to speed up the finalisation of an exit strategy for the joint mission from Darfur.
[The mass rape of more than 200 girls and women at Tabit (North Darfur) by regular army forces has been authoritatively established in a lengthy report by Human Rights Watch; Khartoum’s denying the UN the opportunity for further investigation only works to make clear how dismayed the regime is at the uncovering of some of its atrocity crimes in North Darfur. This is the real reason for the increasingly energetic calls that the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) be withdrawn. If the force is withdrawn, it will precipitate a complete breakdown in humanitarian operations.]
Addressing an electoral rally in El-Fasher on Wednesday, Bashir expressed regret over the killing of dozens during recent clashes between Berti and Zayadia tribes in North Darfur state… He said the conflict between the two tribes was not due to normal differences but a result of a conspiracy that aimed at destabilising the region and sabotaging elections.
The Sudanese president warned Darfur people against allowing Satan to fuel discord among them through tribalism and regionalism, saying there is no difference between Arab and African tribes. [No one is more responsible for exacerbating ethnic tensions and violence than al-Bashir and his National Congress Party regime. His infamous Janjaweed militia commander Musa Hilal conveyed the views of the regime all too well in an August 2004 memorandum: “Change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes.” The effort to “change the demography” of Darfur is nowhere more energetically pursued than in North Darfur, the location of al-Bashir’s campaign speech.]
“Do you need anyone to reconcile among you? Do you need UNAMID? Do you need the AU, UN or IGAD?” he said. [Al-Bashir would have this heard as a rhetorical question; for most Darfuris it is anything but.]
Bashir praised steadfastness of the residents of El-Fasher and their resistance to the rebellion for 12 years, vowing to uproot rebellion during a brief period of time. [The same vow was made over eleven years ago, with the same arrogance and contempt—and inaccuracy.]
He congratulated the residents of El-Fasher for the Al-Inghaz Al-Gharbi highway, pledging to complete renaissance and development in the region. [Members of al-Bashir’s regime are utterly shameless in offering promises they know they can’t keep.]
April 9, 2015 | El Fasher
Concluding his electoral campaign in the five states of Darfur, President Omar Al Bashir told supporters in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, on Wednesday that the Darfuris do not need to be protected by foreign peacekeepers. He stressed that Darfur has a long tradition in resolving disputes… “Do you need someone to tell you how to find reconciliation between yourselves? Do you need UNAMID? Do you need the African Union? Do you need the UN?” Al Bashir asked hundreds of supporters. [It is true that Darfur had traditionally been blessed with mechanisms for reconciliation, compensation, and adjudication of disputes between tribal groups; al-Bashir’s genocidal counter-insurgency campaign has destroyed these almost completely.]
“Despite the rebels’ claim that Darfur is marginalized, they continuously impede the government’s efforts to build schools and dig wells.” [This is pure fabrication, a shameless lie in an effort to deflect blame for what all recognize has been a decades-long marginalization of Darfur and other peripheral regions.] “[The rebels] are trading the cause of Darfur, following a foreign agenda.” He said that the rebels will soon be eliminated. “No post will be obtained with a gun anymore.” [This comes from a man who seized power by military coup in June 1989 and has never since participated in a meaningful election.]
The president’s visit to the North Darfur capital was preceded by tight security measures. The town’s Grand Market and the shops at the main roads were shut, a merchant informed Radio Dabanga. He said that men in civilian clothes ordered the shop and stall owners to attend the speech of Al Bashir. One of the sheikhs of the Zamzam camp for the displaced near El Fasher told Radio Dabanga that most of the camp residents boycotted the visit of Al Bashir, “except for a few people who joined the ruling National Congress Party in an attempt to meet some of their needs.” He compared the president’s visit to Darfur with “a murderer who visits the cemetery to dance on gravestones of his victims.”
• Sudan Tribune | Sudanese warplanes kill 14 civilians in Central Darfur
April 7, 2015 | Khartoum
Sudanese army warplanes killed 14 civilians during an airstrike carried out in Central Darfur state a week ago, said the UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. “The Joint AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is able to confirm the dropping of 10 bombs which led to the killing of 14 civilians and the wounding of 18 others in Rowata, Central Darfur, on 1 April,” Dujarric said at a press conference at the UN Headquarters on Tuesday. [We must be grateful for this extraordinarily rare confirmation from UNAMID of an airstrike that not only violated UN Security Council 1591 (March 2005), banning all military air flights in Darfur, but clearly—given the nature of the attack—is a war crime. In aggregate, the bombing attacks on civilians in Darfur—of which only a miniscule fraction have been investigated by UNAMID—are crimes against humanity (see www.SudanBombing.org ).
[The] government recently intensified the airstrikes in Darfur ahead of general elections, which will take within a week. The rebel groups vowed to disrupt the electoral process in solidarity with a campaign launched by the opposition forces calling to boycott the elections. Dujarric said the army continues its attacks, adding [that] bombs dropped in the area failed to kill peacekeepers who were present in the area on Monday. “Yesterday, a verification patrol was dispatched to Rowata; while it was in the village, the team witnessed another aerial bombardment, consisting of five bombs dropped close to where they were standing,” he said. The UN mission strongly condemns such aerial bombings, which cause widespread death, destruction and displacement of populations, he further said. [And “condemnation” is all the UN and African Union are prepared to offer the people of Darfur; there is absolutely no plan to compel a cessation of attacks that have been ongoing for twelve years. In turn, the sense of total impunity on Khartoum’s part is only more fully confirmed if nothing of consequence follows from aerial attacks that were actually witnessed while in progress by UNAMID observers.]
VIOLENCE IN NORTH DARFUR:
April 7, 2015 | Kutum Locality
A group of militiamen gang-raped a girl (15) of Kassab camp for the displaced in Kutum locality on Sunday. In two separate incidents, other Kassab camp displaced were beaten and robbed… [A] Kassab camp activist reported that militiamen riding on camels attacked four young women who were collecting firewood and straw five kilometres north of the camp. “They beat three of the women with their whips, and kept them silent at gunpoint, while they seized the fourth, and raped her alternately,” she said. “The victim was transferred, severely bleeding and in a bad mental state, to a health clinic in the vicinity.”
Other Kassab camp residents were intercepted by militiamen on the same day, when they were collecting firewood southwest of the camp. “They beat and whipped them, and robbed them of their money, mobile phones, three donkey carts, and the axes and ropes used for collecting the wood,” a camp elder said. In Kutum town, gunmen entered the premises of Kutum Hospital on Sunday evening. One of the guards told Radio Dabanga that “a group of gunmen took a double-cabin vehicle belong to the Ministry of Health at gunpoint, and headed northwards.” [These brazen, vicious assaults give some sense of the complete lawlessness and lack of security that dominates much of Darfur—and threatens all of it.]
April 7, 2015 | Tawila Locality
Three militiamen raped two young women in Tawila locality on Monday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a listener reported that the two women, aged 21 and 17, from Karkar village, 20 kilometres south of Tawila town, were collecting firewood in the area of Riheid See Sawa. “Three Janjaweed riding on camels and wearing military uniforms ambushed the women, and repeatedly raped them at gunpoint.” [The reason Khartoum was so sensitive about an investigation of the mass rapes at Tabit is the success the regime has had in making of rape, used systematically as a weapon of war, something that is rarely reported by UNAMID or adequately noted by the UN Secretary General; local authorities—even those who are willing—cannot halt the ongoing epidemic of sexual violence. Here again years of impunity for these brutal crimes ensures that they will continue. No international actor of consequence has spoken out on a consistent basis for what are, in aggregate, crimes against humanity.]
April 3, 2015 | Mellit / Fanga / Kass
Two men were shot dead at the hands of pro-government militiamen in Malawi area, close to Mellit, North Darfur, on Thursday. The killing took place against the backdrop of the raids in Mellit locality earlier this week, in which militiamen reportedly killed and injured at least 48 people. [These murderous attacks will continue until the international community finds the will to bring real pressure on the regime to stop; such pressure is nowhere in sight or even mooted by those nations with the ability to ensure that there are painful consequences for such continuing barbarism.] Thursday also witnessed an aerial bombardment in East Jebel Marra, resulting in the death of a child.
In Kass, a man was shot dead by militiamen. A relative of one of the dead reported to Radio Dabanga that the militiamen, driving five vehicles mounted with Dushka guns, were on their way to Kabkabiya after participating in the raids on several villages in Mellit last weekend and from Monday to Wednesday. [The militiamen—likely Rapid Response Forces (RSF)—also operate with a sense of total impunity, knowing that they are doing what the regime wishes them to.]
A child died by an explosion when the Sudanese Air Force bombed an area near Fanga, in East Jebel Marra, on Thursday. A number of livestock were killed, too, and large tracts of farmland were burned down. A witness told Radio Dabanga that an Antonov aircraft flew over Burgo area, north of Fanga, for a long time, before it dropped seventeen bombs. The 8-year-old Saleh Goma Saleh was killed inside her house. Twelve cows and donkeys did not survive the bombardment either. “The latest attack sparked panic amongst the residents in the area, who have fled into the woods and mountains. [The displacement caused by relentless aerial bombardment, in areas to which humanitarians and UNAMID have little or no access, has produced a significant undercounting of those recently displaced in the region.]
April 8, 2015 | Ailliet Locality
Ten people were reportedly killed and eight others wounded in an ambush on a passenger lorry in the area of Abu Sufyan in Ailliet locality on Tuesday. A relative of one of the victims reported to Radio Dabanga that the passengers were returning from the market of Abu Sufyan to Ed Daein, capital of East Darfur. “At about 8pm, a group of gunmen riding on motorcycles and camels opened fire at the lorry. Nine passengers, among them three children and a woman, were killed instantly. Nine others sustained various bullet wounds
April 8, 2015 | El Kuma Locality
Two people were killed in an attack by paramilitary Border Guards on Tofai village, El Kuma locality, on Monday. “Haroun Daoud and Abdallah Idris Hamid, nicknamed Jigeira, were shot dead in the attack,” a villager told Radio Dabanga from Tofai. “They took Nureldin Abakar Ibrahim and Ishag Bashir Mohamed with them to an unknown destination,” [he] added, explaining that the Border Guards, supported by militia troops of the Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira), had raided the village, located 7 kilometres west of El Kuma, before. “In the former raid, they stole our mills engines, and plundered all the shops.”
April 7, 2015 | KABKABIYA LOCALITY
Militant Abbala tribesmen [abbala—“camel herder—indicates an Arab tribal group] have demanded payment for the protection of farmlands south of Kabkabiya. A farmer told Radio Dabanga from Numu village that one of the omdas in the area began to collect grain from the villages of Numu, Halaga, Kandag, and Dimri last Monday. “Each village is supposed to pay 60 (100kg) sacks of sorghum to the Abbala militia commander in the area, in exchange for the protection of our crops until the harvest,” he reported, calling the move “unfair and unjust.” [Such extortion schemes are increasing rapidly throughout Darfur.]
April 6, 2015 | MELLIT
Humanitarian operations in North Darfur’s Mellit locality have been adversely affected by insecurity caused by violence between the Berti [one of the African tribal groups in the region] and Ziyadiya [one of the Arab tribal groups]… [Violence began] on 27 February, according to the latest report issued by the UN Humanitarian Office. Fighting was reported between 26 and 28 March in villages surrounding Mellit town. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported the displacement of an estimated 8,000 people (1,600 families) who have arrived in Saiyha town and surrounding area and an estimated 135 people (27 families) who have arrived at Abassi camp. Some aid agencies have limited their activities due to the security situation. The Sudanese Red Crescent suspended operations in the 11 health facilities they run in the area, and the World Food Programme (WFP) postponed its displaced profiling exercise. Some organisations withdrew their staff from the area. Humanitarian organisations are planning to undertake a rapid fact-finding mission to assess the situation on the ground. Aid agencies continue to provide assistance to people displaced following fighting between government forces and armed movements in North Darfur’s Tawila locality and some parts of the Jebel Marra area. The agencies have verified 31,800 newly displaced people, of whom the IOM has registered 29,500. [The actual number of displaced in this general region is certainly much greater than the 31,800 verified by IOM; lacking access to large areas, many are uncounted—and left without humanitarian relief.]
April 3, 2014 | Kutum / Mellit
Militias continued to pass through Kutum locality in North Darfur on Wednesday and Thursday, allegedly returning from attacks they committed in Mellit in the previous days. A source said that at least 48 people were killed and injured during these raids, northwest of El Fasher locality. [This extreme level of murderous violence is beyond the control of anything other than a robust international peace-making force; this was just as true in 2006 when Khartoum rejected the force proposed by the UN Department of Peacekeeping operations; it was true as well in July 2007 when UNAMID was officially authorized by the UN Security Council; and it was true as the incompetent and ill-equipped UNAMID officially took up its mandate on January 1, 2008.] Several witnesses told Radio Dabanga that pro-government militias that participated in the attacks in Mellit locality were on their way to the military bases in Kutum town. “About 60 vehicles loaded with food items, household furniture and other items drove by.” One of them said that 25 vehicles went to Damirat El Gubba, 22 drove to Kutum town with one of the leaders of the Central Reserve Forces, and 15 vehicles went to El Ghireir area. Another group of militia members on camels and horses passed on Thursday with more stolen livestock. “About 40 camels and ten herds of sheep,” according to a witness. [Looting on a large scale, a hallmark of the early years of the genocide, has resumed with a vengeance.]
VIOLENCE IN JEBEL MARRA:
April 5, 2015 | Deribat, eastern Jebel Marra
Aisha Idris and son Musa Ibrahim were killed when a mortar shell fell on her house in East Jebel Marra on Sunday afternoon. The two died outright when a salvo of mortars was fired on the area, allegedly from the military garrison in Deribat. Their home was completely destroyed in the ensuing fire. Other villagers have taken cover in the surrounding wadis out of fear for repeat attacks.
April 5, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
A man has been kidnapped, together with his vehicle, while collecting wood in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that on Thursday, Saddam Musa drove his Land Rover from Zamzam camp to the area of Tarni to collect firewood. He was intercepted by a group of militiamen. They forced the passengers to disembark, and then drove-off with Musa and his vehicle to an unknown destination.
Two killed by bomb explosion in Darfur’s Jebel Marra
April 10, 2015 | Fanga
One child and one 23-year-old died in a bomb explosion south of Fanga, East Jebel Marra, on Thursday. A relative of the victims told Radio Dabanga that Bishara Abdelrahman Adam (14 years) and Mariam Saleh Omar (23 years) were riding on donkeys on their way to a garden, 3 km south of Fanga. Their movement triggered an unexploded grenade to detonate. Both Bishara and Mariam died on the spot, along with their donkeys. The relative explained that parts of their bodies were scattered. They were collected and buried on the same day.
*Years of conflict have left Darfur and other parts of Sudan littered with potentially deadly explosives and munitions (UXO), such as missiles and grenades. Radio Dabanga appeals to listeners throughout Darfur (and elsewhere in our reception area) not to touch any “unexploded” grenades or other ammunition found in the field. Mark its position clearly to alert others, and report it immediately to a camp elder, UNAMID and/or the local police—RD.
VIOLENCE, DESTRUCTION, AND EVENTS ELSEWHERE IN DARFUR
April 8, 2015 | El Radoom / Gereida, South Darfur
Three people burned to death in El Radoom locality in South Darfur on Tuesday. The massive fire destroyed 85 houses. In El Nasr district in Gereida, 30 houses went up in flames, as well as a mosque and a Koran school. “Two children and an adult died in the fire that broke out in the area of Wad Hujam,” a villager who escaped the inferno told Radio Dabanga. “85 houses burned to the ground.” In El Nasr district of Gereida town, a fire broke out in a house at 2.30 pm on Tuesday. “It spread quickly owing to the heavy wind. 30 houses went up in flames, as well as a mosque and the adjacent Nur El Hoda Koran School, that hosts 230 Koran students and teachers,” a resident of the neighbourhood reported. [As I have noted previously, Radio Dabanga is constantly reporting fires, many of a highly suspicious nature. Arson is always a difficult crime to prove, but there can be no doubting that fires often serve the regime’s purposes, particularly when they occur in camps for displaced persons, which Khartoum is eager to see dismantled in any event.]
April 9, 2015 | Deleig
A massive fire near Deleig [Toja village] in Central Darfur destroyed more than 60 houses, agricultural crops, and killed a large number of livestock on Tuesday. The people did not manage to contain the flames with water and sand, because of heavy winds. “Apart from the destruction of 62 homes, and several stores with agricultural crops, large numbers of sheep, goats, donkeys, and chicken burned to death.”
Sudan Tribune, 9 April 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur
Gunmen carjacked a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) vehicle in Nyala the capital of South Darfur state on Thursday, a UN official said. While he was collecting an employee residing in Hay Almattar neighborhood in Nyala, the driver of a UNDP minibus was intercepted by three armed men who ordered him at gun point to drive the vehicle outside the town and headed into unknown destination," the source told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity. The commissioner of the state governor affairs, Abdel Mutalab Ali Idriss confirmed the car-theft crime…. [South Darfur] is known for criminal activities and robbery committed by armed gangs.
April 8, 2015 | Ed Daein (formerly part of South Darfur]
The Sudanese Ministry of Interior dismissed 30 East Darfur policemen on Tuesday, who refused to be transferred to South Kordofan. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a listener explained that the policemen refused to join their colleagues in South Kordofan, on the ground that they have repeatedly performed their duty in the war-torn southern region, while others have not been sent to the battlefields at all. The source considered the dismissal as "targeting a specific group,” and explained that the 30 policemen are all from Abu Karinka, Adila, and Sharif. [Recruitment efforts, despite promises of unaffordable salary increases, are flagging badly, even as the Sudan Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces continue to struggle militarily in South Kordofan. It seems highly unlikely that the (second) “final campaign” to seize all of South Kordofan, including the Nuba Mountains, will succeed. And with the passage of time, the costs of war continue to accrue, morale deteriorates, and fewer and fewer are motivated by the call to “jihad.”]
MORE EVIDENCE OF ECONOMIC DEMISE
April 9, 2015 | Nyala
The total load of contaminated sugar recently distributed in South Darfur reportedly consists of 70,000 sacks of 50kg. A source revealed to Radio Dabanga that prominent South Darfuri members of the ruling National Congress Party, in agreement with market traders, transported the contaminated sugar to Nyala, and stored it in the Kenana Sugar Company stores in the city. The source reported that each of the 21 localities in the state has received 100 sacks, while the rest has been distributed at the markets. “The expired sugar is currently sold for the price of SDG240 ($40) per sack, which is SDG70 ($12) lower than the real market price.” He commented that “though the NCP leaders in South Darfur received millions of pounds for the election campaign, they are not satisfied, and want to earn more by selling carcinogenic commodities to the people.” [An object lesson in who joins the National Congress Party and why.]
April 9, 2015 | Nyala
300 teachers in South Darfur demand the immediate payment of their February and March salaries. The names of about 500 teachers disappeared from the payroll after the Ministry of Finance had computerised the salary administration, Mohamed Hassan Haroun, a secondary school teacher in Nyala explained to Radio Dabanga. “At the end of February, we were surprised to learn that the state could not pay our salaries, because our names were missing in the new system. The authorities managed to settle the salaries of 200 teachers. The others are still waiting for their entitlements for February and March,” he said.
On 31 March, the state’s medical personnel staged a sit-in at the state Ministry of Health in Nyala, demanding payment of their February and March salaries. An administrative staff member of the Ministry told Radio Dabanga that about 2,160 names of medics disappeared from the financial records. [Corruption runs deep in all branches of the regime, and skepticism about the “accidental” deletion of names is certainly warranted.]
*** SUDAN’S NATIONAL ELECTIONS ***
April 12, 2015 | Khartoum
The Civil Society Initiative stressed that the road chosen by the Sudan Appeal signatories, after the Sudanese government declined to accept the AU invitation to discuss the process of a broad national dialogue in the Ethiopian capital on 29 March, is a mass intifada. It called “on all sectors in the rural and urban areas” to support the Sudan Appeal and the uprising. “Only a nation-wide uprising can release Sudan from the grip of the corrupt ruling National Congress Party, restore peace, rights and freedoms, and rebuild the country based on democracy and equal citizenship,” the statement reads. [Regime change will come to Sudan only when fear of the brutal security forces is overcome by anger at the tyranny, corruption, economic mismanagement, and denial of human rights that have marked the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party from the beginning of its rule in June 1989.]
April 9, 2015 | Ed Damazin (Blue Nile State)
The mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) and the Sudan Congress Party are calling on the Sudanese to “stand up and topple the Khartoum regime.” The displaced and refugees of Blue Nile state have announced their boycott of the election.
In a statement on Wednesday, the leader of the SLM-AW, Abdel Wahid El Nur, appealed to “all Sudanese, of all military, political, and civil sectors, to join the “Oust!” campaign and stage an uprising to prevent the re-election of criminal Omar Al Bashir. He called for mass civil disobedience actions throughout Sudan to “free our people from dictatorship, and build a nation based on equal citizenship, and individual and collective freedoms, bring the murderers and criminals to justice in national and international courts, and write a new history of our country, without discrimination and exclusion.”
In Sodari, North Kordofan, Ibrahim El Sheikh, the head of the Sudan Congress Party called for a general boycott of the election. At a symposium on Wednesday, he urged the Sudanese to stand up to prevent the re-election of “liar Al Bashir and his affiliates, who shamelessly robbed the country’s resources and used them for their personal gains.” Dr Bashir Adam Rahama, Foreign Relations Secretary of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), led by Dr Hassan El Turabi, described the general election, scheduled to take place between 13 and 15 April, as “a one-horse race by the ruling NCP.” He told Radio Dabanga that his party will not participate in the election, through nomination or voting, as the outcomes are “predetermined.”
The Blue Nile displaced and refugees announced in a statement on Wednesday that they will not cast their votes or recognise the electoral results. They wonder how they can participate in election organised by a government that severely hampers efforts of humanitarian organisations to provide aid, while continuing their attacks on the population “aerial bombardments, shelling, and internationally prohibited chemical weapons.” In their Declaration of the 2015 Election Boycott, the war-affected call for a broad national constitutional conference “to reach a comprehensive solution to the problem of Sudan, prosecute all offenders of justice, headed by President Al Bashir, and compensate the victims, in accordance with national and international standards.” The statement also demanded the release of political detainees in the detention centres of the security apparatus, popularly known as “ghost houses”, and the abolition of all laws restricting freedoms and which violate international conventions on human rights, including the National Intelligence and Security Service Act and the Public Order Bill.
[It has long been clear that only regime change can rescue Sudan from its continuing descent into economic chaos, increasing violence, and ever more savage political repression. This is now the mainstream opinion of most Sudanese parties, and all major opposition parties. Over a decade ago I argued as much, suggesting that the international community had an obligation to compel regime change, given the genocidal nature of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party cabal. Given the deeply misguided U.S. efforts to effect regime change in Iraq, the timing for such an argument was not auspicious. It nonetheless makes for interesting reading more than ten years later | The Washington Post, August 23, 2004.
April 8, 2015 | Kalma Camp / Cairo
The Coordination Office of the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association has called for a nation-wide boycott of the general election scheduled for 13-15 April. “We call on all the Sudanese not to cast their vote next week, and to stage mass demonstrations instead, in protest against the rigged election and the brutal regime in Khartoum,” Yagoub Mohamed Abdallah, head of the Coordination Office told Radio Dabanga. He stressed that the Darfur displaced and refugees are all convinced that unless the regime is overthrown, there will be no stability in Sudan. “Toppling the National Congress Party government is simply our duty. We have to stop the ongoing attacks, aerial bombardments, and rapes in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile.”
The head of the National Umma Party, El Sadig El Mahdi, also stressed the need for a popular uprising, which, he said, is “the only option left against the tyranny in Sudan.” In a statement on Tuesday, El Mahdi accused the Sudanese government of reneging from its prior consent to participate in the preparatory National Dialogue meeting with opposition forces in Addis Ababa on 29 March. He attributed the government’s changed position to the momentum it gained by joining the Saudi alliance against Houthi rebels in Yemen on 25 March. “By refusing to attend the pre-dialogue meeting in the Ethiopian capital, the regime has left us no other option than a broad mobilisation for the Leave! Campaign, and launch a third Sudanese intifada,” El Mahdi said. Sudan witnessed two popular uprisings after its independence on 1 January 1956. A professional unions’ strike, throughout Sudan, led to the dissolution of Gen. Ibrahim Abboud’s military rule in October 1964. More than a decade later, in March 1985, people took to the streets in protest against the policies of President Jaafar Nimeiri. His regime was ousted on 5 April.
April 6, 2015 | Khartoum
Opposition ‘Sudan [Call]’ forces have added their voices to the swelling call to boycott the election scheduled of 13 April. In a statement issued to mark the 30th anniversary of 6 April 1985 popular uprising which ended the rule of general Jaafar Numeiri, the coalition of the political and armed opposition forces said the government obstructed the African Union brokered pre-dialogue meeting and aborted the German initiative to facilitate a negotiated settlement. The statement continued that by said by doing so the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) insists to move forward in the path of war and rejects a negotiated solution, leaving the choice of a peaceful uprising for the opposition forces. “Thus the Sudan Call forces appeal on the masses of our people to escalate the resistance against the fraudulent elections and overlook its, results and to continue the resistance campaigns until the overthrow of the regime…”
The Sudan Call forces said they agreed to develop their activities and intensify efforts to reunite the opposition forces. The statement, signed by NUP chairman El Sadig El Mahdi, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) chief Malik Agar, National Consensus Forces (NCF) representative Mohamed Mukhtar El Khateeb and civil society groups delegate, Babiker Ahmed El Hassan.
April 11, 2015 | Geneva
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) expects demonstrations against the backdrop of the upcoming election to end up in clashes, and has set up an emergency plan for the polls next week, and their possible aftermath. An Emergency Plan of Action, released on the eve of the “election silence” on 11 and 12 April, contains worst-case scenarios and the description of activities for preparing first aid posts and volunteers in a number of “high-risk states.” “Given the history of the country and existing political tensions in many areas there is a high risk of violence around the elections, as the government continues to ignore opposition calls to postpone the vote and form a transitional government,” the emergency plan for the ‘Dref’ operation of the IFRC reads.
The SRCS has prepared three scenarios in case of disaster. It expects that the most likely to occur are protests that end up in riots or clashes. In this scenario, the IFRC thinks most casualties will happen in the high-risk states. “It is estimated that 50,000 persons will be affected. SRCS will provide First Aid assistance, evacuation, rescue, [and] PSS as it has volunteers all over the States of risk.” If the situation turns worse, the IFRC moves to scenario 2, “loss of lives,” and 3, with the possibility of population movement or displacement.
No support from EU, Sudan Troika
A rally by students in Khartoum who reject the election was dispersed with tear gas, rubber bullets, and beatings by the security apparatus on Thursday. Anti-election protests in the capital of Sudan and the Northern State on Wednesday and Thursday resulted in the detentions of many demonstrators. The European Union has stated that it will not support the Sudanese general election, scheduled to start coming Monday. According to the members of the Sudan Troika (Norway, the UK, the US), an environment conducive to a participatory and credible election in Sudan does not exist.
My own commentary on Sudan’s elections—
“Sudan: Where Elections Matter for the Wrong Reasons”
Sudan Tribune, April 10, 2015
by Eric Reeves
Sudan holds national elections in the coming days, including for the office of President. The result is a foregone conclusion, indeed to speak of the voting process that will occur as an “election” is deeply misleading. The present National Congress Party (NCP) regime has gone to great lengths to predetermine the results, particularly the re-election of President Omar al-Bashir. It was al-Bashir who nominally led the military coup of June 1989 that brought the National Islamic Front to power, although geopolitical tact produced the re-designation as the NCP. But the actors are the same, the men who wield real power are largely the same, although more of the top leaders come from the military and intelligence community. If there is a difference between this electoral farce and that of 2010, it is that many more preparations have been taken to ensure victory, and that this victory have a specious sheen of legitimacy.
But leaked minutes from a meeting on August 31, 2014 make clear the extent of the political machinations that are the real story behind these elections. Ibrahim Ghandour, recently invited by the Obama State Department to Washington for negotiations, offered some impressively specific comments on his multifarious achievements. They include bribes, voter manipulation, fraud, and the threat of violence.
But there are other reasons that the impending elections will be meaningless and can do nothing to reflect the will of the Sudanese people. There are three areas of the country where there is simply too much violence to conduct elections: Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile. Indeed, ballots destined for South Kordofan were recently seized by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N), a measure of their determination to show the world they will not sit idly by while tyranny perpetuates itself.
And they are not alone: in December 2014, a coalition of opposition groups and forces, including the SPLM/A-N signed the “Sudan Call,” a political declaration that urged voters to boycott the election, describing it as "façade intended to falsify the national will and legitimise the regime.”
Radio Dabanga, our only reliable source on the situation on the ground in Darfur, reported (April 7, 2015):
The Coordination Office of the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association has called for a nation-wide boycott of the general election scheduled for 13 – 15 April. “We call on all the Sudanese not to cast their vote next week, and to stage mass demonstrations instead, in protest against the rigged election and the brutal regime in Khartoum.”
Boycotts are being staged, some quietly, in many locations around the country, and the NCP regime is doing its own part in attenuating the voter list and candidates. Sudan Tribune, which does the best job of reporting broadly on news from greater Sudan, filed a dispatch on April 7, 2015 noting that “Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party has dismissed all its members running as independents in next Monday’s general elections.”
It’s still not clear who, besides the Arab League, will monitor the election. A consortium of East African countries known as IGAD says it intends to, but IGAD is short on capacity and finds itself overwhelmed with involvement in efforts to halt the civil war in South Sudan. Any presence during the elections would be skeletal at best. For its part, the Arab League will ratify the elections; but this means little, given the organization’s history of antipathy toward fair elections and its mindless solidarity with Khartoum. Perhaps the African Union will follow through on an earlier commitment, but it is highly doubtful they could mount a significant monitoring presence in a country as large as Sudan in the time remaining.
Why should we care?
Why should be care that the world is witnessing another electoral travesty, a thoroughly grotesque version of the democratic process? The main reason is that the regime’s “victory” may give certain Western countries a reason for warmer relations with Khartoum, responding to the sheen of legitimacy that even profoundly fraudulent elections will produce. The U.S. in particular may be tempted to turn a blind eye to the illegitimacy of these elections, for the Obama administration still wants closer cooperation with Khartoum on counter-terrorism and wants access to its massive, wildly expensive new embassy in Khartoum, designed to be the “listening post” for North Africa. Right now, the regime is saying no, and the leaked minutes reveal deep hostility to the U.S.
But a recent visit by Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, may have had all these issues front and center in talks. Feldstein’s comments on departure suggested that he and the U.S. credit, at least partially, the farce Khartoum has called the “National Dialogue,” a supposedly broad-based effort to provide greater political openness and the basis for a reformed, more democratic Sudan. But the “National Dialogue” is distinguished mainly by how few have joined; an overwhelming number of opposition groups, of all sorts, believe this is just more trickery by the regime, designed to give only the appearance of greater political legitimacy. Still, Feldstein mentioned the phrase twice in his brief departing remarks, and one can all too easily imagine this administration turning a blind eye to Sudan’s ghastly realities in order to further counter-terrorism cooperation.
While he was still a senator, Russ Feingold made a particularly well-informed assessment of what the U.S. was getting from this putative “cooperation.” Since he sat on the Intelligence Committee and also chaired the Africa subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he was uniquely positioned to assess the trade-offs with Khartoum that began under the Bush administration, and have continued under the Obama administration. In this trade-off, Khartoum provides counter-terrorism “intelligence” and in exchange the U.S. will adopt a more conciliatory attitude toward Khartoum, despite its ongoing policies of genocidal counter-insurgency. Feingold made clear his own skepticism about Khartoum’s behavior in cooperating on counter-terrorism:
I take serious issue with the way the report [on international terrorism by the U.S. State Department] overstates the level of cooperation in our counterterrorism relationship with Sudan, a nation which the U.S. classifies as a state sponsor of terrorism. A more accurate assessment is important not only for effectively countering terrorism in the region, but as part of a review of our overall policy toward Sudan, including U.S. pressure to address the ongoing crisis in Darfur and maintain the fragile peace between the North and the South. (Statement by Senator Russell Feingold, May 1, 2009)
Everything has borne out Feingold’s assessment of six years ago, and yet the U.S. continues to woo the regime. And armed with the “legitimacy” conferred by these elections, this regime will certainly continue to conduct campaigns of ethnically-targeted destruction in the Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan regions of Sudan. 13-year-old girls will continue to be raped; bombs wills continue to fall on purely civilian targets; villages of non-Arab/African populations will be destroyed because they are perceived as supporting the rebels Khartoum can’t defeat militarily; and desperately needed humanitarian relief will continue to be denied to well over one million people at acute risk.
Let us hope that the Obama administration understands these elections for what they are. They certainly should not confer the “legitimacy” that the regime has so often spoken of in its secret meetings as the ultimate goal of their electoral charade. But “should” is a word the Obama administration has had a difficult time understanding in its dealings with Sudan. And the sense of an imperative, tragically, is much more likely to come from the Obama administration intelligence community than from those who care about the lives and livelihoods of the Sudanese people.
Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for the past sixteen years. He is author of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012 (September 2012).