May 17, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — A Darfur rebel leader said regime change in Khartoum is a radical option but remains the only viable solution to take Sudan out of an endemic political instability and repeated violations of human rights.
- Video footage showing SLM-AW leader Abdel-Wahid al-Nur, dressed in military uniform speaks to his troops in an undisclosed location this month (ST)
Abdel Wahid al-Nur, founder of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) who left France in December 2010, spoke to Sudan Tribune from the "liberated areas" inside the country where he said his groups is preparing to confront the regime militarily.
"When I left France, I was fully convinced that the problem of Sudan cannot be resolved through negotiations but I have to go on the ground to work with the Liberation Army to change this regime and to establish a secular, democratic, liberal and federal state," he said.
Al-Nur said that the struggle for change in Sudan has achieved tangible progress in the areas of secularism and citizenship of the state despite the failure to bring down Bashir’s regime.
"Speaking about the secular state was a taboo even in many opposition forces but now we are witnessing the collapse of the religious ideology as many political forces embrace this concept openly."
"This is a good step in the right way," he further stressed.
The SLM–AW is a member of Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which includes the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a SLM faction led by Minni Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The four groups say they aim to topple the regime of the National Congress Party in Khartoum which is accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of committing genocide and war crimes in Darfur.
The rebels also call for comprehensive peace process and refuse talks on their respective regional issues. Al-Nur said, his group always rejected partial discussions on Darfur and demanded to tackle the western Sudan issue within a national framework.
However, the international community has rejected the SRF’s military option and has called the SPLM-N to take part in separate talks with Khartoum to settle their disputes on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005. A resolution from the UN Security Council on 2 May asked the SPLM-N and Khartoum to immediately resume negotiations and for the government to allow humanitarian access to rebel-held areas.
The African Union and the United Nations have called on Darfur’s rebel groups to reach a peace deal with Khartoum on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). This framework text has only endorsed by the former rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), which signed the deal in July 2011 and his since joined the government.
The rebellions in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile are seen as a destabilising factor for a fragile peace that led to the independence of South Sudan. Khartoum and Juba accuse each other of supporting rebels.
The rebel leader has refused to negotiate with Khartoum since the Abuja peace talks in 2006, when only Minni Minawi signed the Darfur Peace Agreement becoming a Presidential adviser, only to subsequently leave the government in December 2010. Al-Nur said the international community should cease seeking to impose choices that do not fit with the hopes of Sudanese for freedom and democracy.
"We cannot waiste our time and efforts to conclude a partial peace agreement the regime will never honour. Instead, I call upon the international community to support us to establish a democratic and secular state in Sudan."
The rebel leader last year hailed the international support to the Arab spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and called for a similar support to the few protests in the Sudanese street.
Different reports underline the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur where around 1.9 million displaced civilians are still in the camps since they were forced there in 2003/2004. Residents of the camps complain of the lack of food, water and heath care.
In July 2009 Sudan expelled 13 main international groups and some important local organisations working in Darfur, after the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for senior Sudanese official, including the president. Also, since the signing of the DDPD the government urged international organisations to focus on recovery, development projects together with the repatriation of IDPs.
Al-Nur accused the World Food Programme of implementing a discriminatory policy saying they did not deliver food to some camps since seven months. He also said some others receive one quarter of the ration they used to get in the past.
The rebel leader regretted that the humanitarian crisis is now downplayed by the international community. He stressed the security conditions in Darfur do not allow farmers to grow food.
The leaders of SLM-AW, SLM-MM and JEM, in statements to Radio Dabanga Wednesday called urgently for international humanitarian assistance to help IDPs in Darfur’s camps.
"Without an urgent response to the disastrous situation the world will be an accomplice with Khartoum in a second genocide," Al-Nur cautioned .
The Sudanese government said recently rebel groups moved from South Sudan to inside Darfur to prepare new attacks in order to hinder the implementation of the Doha peace text.
The rebels are also accused of being a proxy for South Sudan in their conflict with Sudan.
"We are only the agents of the Sudanese people," he said when asked about this accusation.
Al-Nur further said they used to hear such accusation from Khartoum in the past. In 2002 and 2003 they described us as "bandits and Communists," he commented.
The Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir chaired on Tuesday a meeting of the Follow-Up committee for the DDPD implementation. The meeting discussed the security situation and the recent return of rebel groups besides the ongoing efforts to enforce the peace deal.