Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 18 July 2008

Sudan rebel leader on limelight while President in panic


By Steve Paterno

July 17, 2008 — Whether it is by genius design, sheer luck, or a combination of both, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, the rebel leader of Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) could not have a better time in history to resurge his almost diminished leadership into national and international prominence. On the very day, and same hour of July 14th, 2008, when the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—Luis Moreno-Ocampo—was formally requesting arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir, the president of Khartoum regime for having committed genocide, crimes against humanity, and murders—Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur was busy enjoying the company of US government officials in Washington, D.C., pleading the case of Darfur.

Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur misfortune or fortune, is deeply traceable to his root of Darfur in Western Sudan. A Darfuri native, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, was born in 1968, at a tiny village of Zalingay. Growing up, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur did not know any world beyond the confines of his village. However, one day as a youngster in 1983, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, developed a complication of lung problems and had to travel to the capitol Khartoum for treatment. It was the first time the youngster is thrown into different contrasting worlds within one country of Sudan: the impoverished poverty-stricken Darfur on one hand and on the other the ever glamorous capital Khartoum . For Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, this would be the turning point in life, a political awakening, and beginning of the process of political consciousness. The future revolutionary leader concern was not anymore the sickness which in the first place brought him to Khartoum, but rather the state of the country, especially its disparities and marginalization.

It was from there that Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur begun to inquire on what was behind the disparities and marginalization in Sudan. To his luck, the Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and its leader, John Garang were already in existence, providing him with the much needed inspirations. Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur will end growing up, admiring Garang and his movement, SPLM/A, where he eventually became Garang’s protégé. On the very trip that Garang crashed and died, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, was supposed to be picked up from Kenya and rendezvoused at the New Site in South Sudan for an important conference with Garang for which he says he cannot at the moment divulge the nature of that important conference, but will do so one day for historical purpose. To this day, he cherishes SPLM/A, considering it “natural and strategic ally” in a fight against marginalization and for sharing the same vision of a secular Sudan .

As a law student at the University of Khartoum in 1992, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, found individuals with similar ideas and resolved, therefore, founded a political movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) with the immediate aim of “stopping the endless killings” (by the dictatorial regime of Khartoum which has three years earlier took power in a coup) and work peacefully against this regime to “bring about a democratic, secular government that guarantees equal rights for all citizens.” However, by 2001, with persistent violent persecutions by the regime in Khartoum , the SLM was left with no choice, but to create a military wing—the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) to resist the violence. SLA coordinated resistance against Khartoum targets in remote regions of Darfur quickly became successful. As a result, the regime in Khartoum unleashed its scorched-earth policy in Darfur. Thus far, over half a million Darfuris are reported killed, millions are uprooted from their homes to displace and refugee camps, and villages are burnt to the ground. According to the U.N., the situation in Darfur creates the “world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.” The ongoing killings in Darfur , according to US government, amount to "genocide." The International Criminal Court (ICC) even went as far as charging officials from Khartoum government including its President Omer al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity, murders among other crimes.

Several efforts are made to stop the violence and bring peace to Darfur. Nonetheless, all these efforts failed. Among several efforts to bring peace to Darfur was, the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) concluded in May 2006. According to the International Crisis Group, a conflict prevention organization, the DPA failed because it is “too limited in scope and signatories” and that those who signed the agreement, in particular, the regime in Khartoum and a Darfur rebel faction of Minnie Minawi “have been responsible for attacks on civilians, humanitarians, the AU mission (AMIS) and some of the violence in the internally displaced person (IDP) camps.”

On refusing to sign the DPA for obvious weaknesses of the agreement, Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, found himself the scapegoat and subject of isolation for the failure of the agreement, especially by those who drafted the agreement. The idea was that Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur would just be bypassed. Some of his lieutenants defected from his movement with the hope that he was going to be isolated forever. However, that turned out to be wrong. In his part, he went to Europe, taking the plight of Dafur into international communities. News media report of him being expelled from Europe turned out to be equally wrong. Instead, he becomes even more popular, now touring around the USA, pleading for the suffering of Darfur. His popularity among the regular people in Darfur displaced camps remains ever unshaken. The governments, such as the US , see in him, an alternative leader for Sudan, which not surprisingly holding talks with him in the very day and hour that President Bashir arrest warrant was processed.

Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur dismissed the notion that he is a puppet of any foreign government about to be installed in Sudan. Even though he is appreciative of the support of all the foreign governments that he is enjoying currently. That if anything he is the only leader who is consistently uncompromising in his objectives and principles, especially his call for security to Darfur and political objectives of creating a secular Sudan. That he has even earned a nickname of Mr. ‘No’ by the Westerners who involve in Darfur conflicts, because of his uncompromising stand.

He credits the success of his SLM/A to many factors among which, a well grounded political consciousness couple with a well structured network, which connect all together political leadership, military commanders, civil societies, student associations, professional organizations, and community associations. Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur expects that most of his lieutenants who left him will soon rejoin him. His wide appeal on his tour to the US is that all the Sudanese should unite, especially the political forces in creating a secular democratic Sudan. That he will continue to fight to create “equal citizenship rights” in Sudan even for those who don’t believe or know those rights until they believe and fully enjoy them.

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  • 18 July 2008 06:48, by Gabe

    Yes, it is not too late Al-Nur to change those hearts, sudan belong to us and those who came to sudan became sudanese too but not the other way round. sudan is not a colony of arabs. so what do you say? not even an inch to the arabian.
    it does not matter how long, it took us that long already anyway so why not solves the problem forever and not a short term solution.


    repondre message

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