August 8, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in South Kordofan and two factions from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in Darfur sealed an alliance with the publicized goal of overthrowing the government of President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and establishing a secular state in the country.
- New recruits for the SPLA attend a training session in a secret camp in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan in July 2011. (AFP)
The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) however distanced itself from the accord over the issue of the secular state and insisted instead that the focus should be the creation of a citizenship rights state.
Gamar Dalman, the media adviser to the SPLM leader in South Kordofan, told Sudan Tribune in a phone interview on Monday that the tripartite agreement was signed today in Kaoda, South Kordofan, by Ramadan Hassan Nimir from the SPLM-Kordofan, Abul Gassim Al-Haj representing the SLM-Abdel Wahid Al-Nur and Al-Rayah Mahmood on behalf of the SLM-Minni Minnawi.
He said the agreement "provides for the use of political and military means to topple down the regime of the [ruling] National Congress Party (NCP)" and movement towards a secular state in the whole of Sudan.
Dalman also emphasized that the alliance pact is open to all the other political forces in the country.
The SPLM-North reached a framework agreement with the Sudanese government brokered by the head of an African Union Panel Thabo Mbeki to negotiate a political partnership between the two parties and to discuss security arrangements.
But the Sudanese president came back a week later and rejected it. He also ordered the army to hunt down Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu, leader of the Southern Kordofan SPLM and bring him to justice.
The SPLM-North Sudan said after a leadership meeting on July 21st that included Chairman Malik Aggar and Secretary General Yasir Arman besides Vice-Chairman Al-Hilu that it would only resume talks with Khartoum if the latter accepts a mediated process.
The summit also declared that the SPLM will determine its political strategy including the principle of regime change within a month’s time.
Dalman said the rapprochement between the SPLM-North and Darfur rebel groups was initiated by the Secretary General Yasir Arman adding that he along with Aggar are now "rebels" against Khartoum. He also underlined that all the political forces were approached to join the alliance.
He pointed out that the issue of the secular state is the only guarantee for Southern Kordofan’s people who reject any other option in this respect.
He however said if Khartoum accepts to resume an internationally brokered process, they will bring the demands of their Darfurian allies and put it on the negotiating table with the NCP’s government.
JEM REBUFFS THE ALLIANCE OVER SECULAR STATE CLAUSE
A delegation of JEM rebels headed by its deputy chairman Ahmed Adam Bakheit was part of the talks held in South Kordofan. The rebel group, which took part in the fighting against the government troops alongside SPLM South Kordofan last month, refused to join the alliance over the principle of the secular state.
JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal, told Sudan Tribune the secular state is not the most important issue at the present stage and the efforts should be directed at toppling the regime. He said their delegation emphasized that the future Sudanese state should be built on the basis of full and equal citizenship, as well as the separation of the religion and the state.
"However imposing the secularism is similar to the theocratic state and such decision should be decided by the whole Sudanese people," Gibreel said. He disclosed that JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim discussed this point in his telephone conversation with the SPLM Secretary General Yasir Arman on Sunday.
Bilal said that JEM’s position on the place of religion "is quite clear". He also underlined another divergence on the role of the political forces that refuse to carry arms against the regime. He said his group wanted a place be clearly designed for these forces to ensure their participation in the interim period.
But Ahmed Tugud JEM’s top negotiator stated to Sudan Tribune that their delegation is still discussing with other parties ways to resolve contentious issues related to the drafting of the document. He also criticized some rebel officials for leaking the contents of the agreement before it is finalized.
JEM is part in the Doha political process to end the Darfur conflict but refused to sign a peace deal with Khartoum asking to open direct negotiations on the seven chapters of a framework peace document, a matter that Khartoum refuses.
Ibrahim Gambari the Joint Special Representative and the interim mediator informed the rebel group in a meeting held in Doha last Saturday that Khartoum still refuses to open the whole document for talks and says it can discuss only JEM political participation and the security arrangements.
The JEM delegation is preparing to leave the venue of the peace process saying it will return if a new development occurs, showing its commitment to the Doha process to end the eight year conflict.
The two SLM groups of Al-Nur and Minnawi are not part of the Doha process. Al-Nur adopted recently a holistic approach saying Darfur crisis can only be solved through a regime change in Khartoum. While the government rejects to include in the Doha process Minnawi who signed the 2066 peace agreement in Abuja.
Dalman said that a statement by the signatories is in the works and will be put out on Tuesday with the text of the alliance pact.
In Khartoum the Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website, a media outlet close to the Sudanese intelligence service, accused the South Sudan government of sponsoring the meeting and claimed that the SLPA’s chief of staff, James Hoth, personally supports the military aspect of the integration of Darfur and Southern Kordofan rebel combatants.
Reacting to the deal, the NCP political officer, Qutbi al-Mahdi said the alliance wants to weaken the Doha accord signed with the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) on July 14th. He further said it proves the continued support from the SPLM to Darfur rebels.