Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 5 October 2011

Popular consultations must go ahead


By Peter Oyoyo Kleto

October 3, 2011 — According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement sign in Nairobi on January 9, 2005 between the National Congress Party and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), Southern Kordofan together with Southern Blue Nile are supposed to have their popular consultations conducted to determine whether they want to be part of the old Sudan or opt out to be part of the newly independent South Sudan.

This dream has not yet been achieve as the National Congress Party is holding those states hostage by not only extending the plebiscite period but by also denying members of SPLM Northern Sector (SPLM-N) from participating in the political affairs of the two contested states. For example, His Excellency Hon. Ahmed Haroun, governor of Southern Kordofan is said to have cheated the election and therefore the result was not recognised by the SPLM-NS candidate, Hon. Abelaziz Alhilu. This confusion has cause serious political and military feuds in South Kordofan resulting in military confrontations between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People Liberation Army - Northern sector.

Southern Kordordan and Southern Blue Nile legally speaking are suppose to go for their referendum without delay to decide their fate through the right to the exercise of self-determination so as to complete the implementation of the hard-won comprehensive peace agreement. What some of us are seeing now is very dangerous than what we thought it would be; the intentional tactic by the National Congress Party to delay the implementation of the right of popular consultation as spelled out in the hard-won CPA is in itself a serious violation of the right of self-determination as stated in the agreement.

We all know that the right calls for the people of the two states to decide their fate on whether to remain part of "Old Sudan" or join the newly independent state of South Sudan through the right to the exercise of self-determination as agreed in letter. This manner of dragging the two states to be part of North Sudan by force as illustrated by the military activities of the Sudan Armed Forces in both of the two states.

The house of the former SPLM-N governor of Blue Nile, Malik Agar, house was attacked as he fled to an unknown area. Al Hilu’s location in South Kordofan is up-to now not known by anyone except by those close to him and himself. Some of us may ask these questions:

Has the CPA died already?

What is the intention of the National Congress Party for resorting to military means to intimidate, to take over the two states by force, and to harass members of the SPLM/A North sector?

The heinous crimes committed by the Sudan Armed Forces in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile cannot be forgotten by the international community together with those on the grounds, not forgetting Southern Sudanese masses the victims. The people of the two states have the right to decided whether or not they want to be part of the North or South and their decision will based on whether the interim period has brought favourable weather to them or not.

My analysis of NCP behaviors has informed me that the government in Khartoum has been politically defeated and have not convince the people of the two states through delivery of basic services and amendment of constitution to accommodate the demands of SPLM-N and other political parties. As a result, they think the only way for them to keep those two states to be part of North is through military means and this is exactly what they have done and are still currently doing.

The right of self-determination through popular consultation that they themselves are a signatory of is not anymore in their table. Abel Alier book “Too Many Agreements Dishonored” has taught us a lot of political games that the different successive regimes in Khartoum have been playing, this is indeed true as illustrated by the different regimes that have rule the Sudan. For this reason we are calling for the international community together with the government of South Sudan, IGAD, Africa Union and the insiders’ opposition parties or groups to intervene so as to at least save the lives of innocent civilians that are being slaughtered on daily basis by the Sudan Armed Forces under the instructions of the leaders of the National Congress Party. Unless these groups I have just mention above intervene, the Sudanese car will not drive in different direction.

In my view, the government in Khartoum will soon fall apart because different opposition groups from all corners of the Sudan and in the center itself have expressed their dissatisfaction with this government and are ready to do whatever is in their power to bring this government down. Recently, the different rebel groups located in western Darfur region have concluded agreement with SPLM/A North to work hand in hand for a common objective; which is to overthrow this oppressive and racist government of Al - Bashir by both military and political means. Even heavy weight political parties such as the Umma party and the Popular Congress Party headed by Hassan al Turabi have also expressed their anger at how the government is handling the country. Those parties have already found a common identity and a formula to solve the Sudanese equation with.

This formula is what defines the fundamental problem of Sudan which is identity and the definition of the Sudan as an Islamic Arab State and therefore allowing for the imposition of Islamic Sharia law and the subsuming of the religious sphere to the political sphere as one for governance of the country. Yes, it is true that we have Arabs in the Sudan and yes there are Muslims in the Sudan, “but this does not make North Sudan an Islamic Arab state or an Arab Islamic state”, because Sudan is multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-cultural and therefore could not be define by Arab image or Arabism.

North Sudan is bigger than just being an Arab or a Muslim. Northerners who are not part of such ideology should say no and clearly state to the Khartoum government that we are much bigger than what you think we are. Now the common objective is extreme marginalisation; politically, socially, militarily and economically. This is what the whole marginalised people in the North have in common because this is what affects their lives on a daily basis.

In conclusion, Sudan has a chance to accommodate those with different opinions, ideas but in order to do so, the Sudanese government should create an atmosphere that brings a feeling of belonging. Each Sudanese should feel at home and free to express his opinions without any form or harassment and/or intimidation. Khartoum should accept people for who they are and shallow their ideas as they state and should be willing to reach fair concessions if they are sincere in wanting true peace, prosperity, sustainable development and unity to flow in Sudan. Failure to do so will mean Sudan will never be the same again because Darfur will demand the right of self-determination and South Kordorfan and South Blue Nile will follow suit should they fail to unseat the government in Khartoum.

Sudan has to accept a constitutional amendment that defines the difference between state and religion and that sees the two as complementary to one another. Sudan should abandon this crazy idea that every citizen should be Arab and accept the diversity of Sudanese people. The diverse cultures that form the Sudan are what will make Sudan a strong, united, prosperous and a respectable country. Limiting people of North Sudan to Arab culture and Islam cannot take Sudanese people anywhere. The marginalised people of North Sudan please tell your Arab rulers in Khartoum that cultural, racial, ethnic and religious pluralism is much bigger than the country being just for Arabs or Muslims.

Peter Kleto is a member of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He can be reached at peterkleto8@hotmail.com

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