Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 31 May 2011

The Secession of South Sudan and Its Impact on Darfur: Time for a New Direction


By Ahmed Hussain Adam*

May 30, 2011— Darfur Conflict is more than 8 years old today. The UN described it as the world worst humanitarian crisis; the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as the US State Department classified it as genocide. The ICC indicted the Head of the regime, ALBashir for masterminding with absolute control a criminal plan to destroy the people of Darfur. Yet, the international community failed to impose the norm of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in favour of the civilian populations in Darfur.

The human and economic costs of this conflict are horrific beyond the belief. The international and regional political responses to the Darfur conflict started in 2004, nonetheless, they failed to put an end to the conflict. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the international community and all concerned actors to reassess their approaches and strategies to formulate a holistic and bold approach to end the human suffering and restore peace and security in Darfur. It is time for a new beginning in Sudan. This is the only way forward, to guarantee a united, democratic and stable Sudan or rather Sudan minus the South.

Darfur is a key factor for the stability of Sudan and the region as a whole. ONCE it is less than a million square miles, Darfur becomes a majority in terms of number of the population (more than 45 percent of Sudan’s population) and land-size in the Sudan; with major implications. Thus, Darfur crisis has to be resolved within the context of the broader agenda of structural and democratic change in Sudan. The experience of more than 8 years of the negotiations manifested that, a peaceful and negotiated solution can’t be realised under the current regime. Nevertheless, Darfur can’t be resolved militarily.

In the spirit of a new beginning, it is imperative that, the people of Darfur including, the armed movements, to take a genuine pause and assess their cause, and answer some fundamentals questions; For instance, after more than 8years of war and suffering, what is the ultimate goal of the struggle of the people of Darfur, and how it can be realised, within the current shifting national, regional and international dynamics? As for the people of Sudan, in particular the elite in the Centre, can they afford to accept more fragmentation of Sudan after the South? Are they ready to live under chaos and total war? Indeed, the northern elite bear a historical responsibility to act and work for a democratic change in order to secure the unity of the remaining Sudan on new basis. It is also essential that, the international community should reverse its strategies and approaches in Sudan. Such new approach is vital to address the challenges of the post independence of the South, which will have direct consequences in Darfur and other remaining parts of Sudan. Independence of the South should close the page of war and hate, and open a new era of strategic relationship and co-operation, for the best interest of the peoples of the two countries.

The purpose of this article which consists of two parts first is to examine the political and constitutional impacts of the independence of the South Sudan, on Darfur. Second, presents the prospects of democratic change in Sudan. This is the first part, which will generally address the impacts and implications of the independence of South on Darfur.

In matter of weeks, the South Sudan will be declared as an independent sovereign state. This is will constitute a historical and landmark event by all standards. The declaration of the new nation in South will be on the 9th of July 2011. Such declaration will be in accordance with the time-lines of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which signed between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SPLM/A), in Nairobi January 2005.
The CPA is theoretically designed to accommodate the South Sudan in a new political system of governance, whereby the Southerners are guaranteed to exercise their full citizenship rights without any form of discrimination. The CPA provided the People of the South with two options: either to remain within a united Sudan, provided that the unity would be attractive for the Southerners, or to separate and establish their own independent state. Regrettably, the NCP failed to make the unity attractive and convince the Southerners to vote for the unity option. Consequently, the people of South Sudan exercised their right of self-determination and voted overwhelmingly for separation. This new reality has tremendous legal, political and diplomatic impacts, not only in Sudan but also in Africa, as colonial legal boundaries now on play.

However, the historical precedent of the separation of the South has been setting an inspiring and attractive example for the marginalised regions of Sudan including Darfur. The root causes of the conflicts in Sudan are similar; there are a lot of common grounds and shared history between the South, Darfur and other marginalised regions of Sudan. The people of Darfur can now claim the right of self-determination as an option, to end their intractable conflict with the centre, if there is no hope to live in a country that is, equal, just and democratic.

Certainly, Darfur can’t continue that long with the existing status quo, it is matter of time before sizeable forces within Darfur may call for the right of self-determination. Such demand can be justified under many legitimate grounds including, the state of the continuation of the genocide (Kosovo precedent), and the legal, political and historical justifications. The fact that Darfur was an independent and sovereign Sultanate until 1916, until the British colonisation forcibly annexed Darfur to Sudan; such historical fact would make the claim of the self-determination for Darfur is incredibly sounding and strong case. In addition, Darfur case of self-determination is similar to that of Eritrea –“the colonial context of self-determination” or in other terms,” external self-determination”. No doubt, the current stalemate can’t be tolerated anymore; the marginalised peoples of Sudan are entitled to seek different options to end this political impasse, and realise their legitimate aspirations.

In Darfur, for instance, the military campaign has increased its intensity and brutality, shows no mercy for the civilian populations including women and children. The aim of the government has been all along, is to impose security and military solution. Sadly, genocide, rape, mass displacement, abduction of aid workers and destruction continue to be the main feature of the humanitarian and security situations in Darfur.

Regrettably, the UNIMAD and other concerned international institutions failed to fill the vacuum and provide the needed security and protection for the civilian populations, according to its mandate under the UN Security Council Resolution (1769) which passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, on 31/July 2007. Ironically, the international community succeed in the test of the responsibility to protect in Libya, whilst failed to impose its will in Darfur.

The foremost challenge to the State of the North Sudan is the Crisis in Darfur. The Conflict in Darfur, at all its levels is getting worse and far from being resolved or peacefully ended. Indeed, any objective evaluation to the ongoing Doha Political Process on Darfur, doesn’t give any hope that, the Doha Peace Process will bring about a lasting, just, comprehensive and inclusive solution to this Conflict. This is due to multiple factors and reasons:

First, the regime is still unwavering its stubborn strategy of security solution. This is the only known tool by this autocratic regime. The regime has never departed from the state of denial and deception. Thus, it failed to deliver any strategic concession on the table to convince the people of Darfur that they can get some symbolic rewards for their suffering and injustices.

Second, the armed movements failed to provide a genuine break through either to establish a broad and an inclusive single movement or to create a strong and an effective broad coalition.

Third, the AU/UN Mediation suffered from the lack of coherence, consistency and effective international support. However, it is true that lately, the Americans, British, Canadians and Europeans made some effective and semi permanent presence in Doha, in particular, Ambassador Dane Smith, the US Senior Advisor on Darfur, he proved to be a good listener with an excellent understanding to the issues of Sudan.

Furthermore, the divisions and bitter rivalry between some international organisations as well as international dignitaries, who have been assigned to work on Sudan and Darfur issues has significantly undermined the efforts of the Mediation and prolonged the suffering of the People of Darfur.

Fourth, both the State of Qatar as a host Country and the AU/UN Mediation exerted a lot of continued efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement in Darfur. Nevertheless, such efforts were intentionally undermined and spoiled by the regime in Khartoum. It has been evident that, the host country and the mediation lack the leverage over the parties in particular, the Regime. These are the main flaws of the Doha political process that, will lead to an imminent failure of the Process, if there is no rapid intervention from the key international players to save it. Let us be clear, even the current attempts by the State of Qatar and the Mediation to create a momentum for the Doha Process wouldn’t have tangible results. It is obvious that, the regime is manipulating, vetoing and dictating to derail the whole process, and continue with its one-sided and internal measures.

Having stated that, the failure of Doha will drastically push the crisis in Darfur to a new phase of violence and chaos which may affect the reset of Sudan. In such circumstances, the dynamics will open the way for military options by the belligerent parties to survive.

The Conflict of Darfur can be defined as intractable conflict, however, the humanitarian and security situation reach stage of explosion. Therefore, one would highlight three options for Darfur to be resolved: a just, comprehensive and inclusive negotiated settlement, or a clear victory and regime change or a separation of Darfur from Sudan.

Based on the regime’s track records in dishonouring the agreements, it is not realistic that one would imagine a negotiated settlement in Darfur under the current regime. The wise words of the Late Dr John Garang, are still echoing “the regime is too deformed to be reformed”.

In addition, the position of the Regime on the nature of the State in the North after separation of the South, yet, provides another example about the difficulties in realising negotiated solutions for the crises of Sudan. Al-Bashir didn’t give any room for speculations about the nature of the future state in the North! The Head of the regime in Khartoum declared in many occasions that, after the separation of the South, the new state in the North would be an ethnically pure one, in terms of its racial, religious and cultural dimensions. According to Al-Bashir, the State in the North will be an Islamic and Arab state. Al Bashir’s fascism, extremism and ignorance made him oblivious of the diverse nature of the North, and that the North isn’t one entity, it is neither pure Islamic nor pure Arab. Therefore, such short-sighted and extremist views, will never lead the country to peace and tranquillity, rather, it will push it to a new phase of wars.

With the current deadlock, the marginalised peoples of Sudan, including Darfur have no options, either to change the regime or impose the right of self-determination and follow the example of South. Status quo isn’t an option. However, the option of the separation entails tremendous challenges, it can’t be realised without unity and international support. In my view the solution to the crises of Sudan including Darfur requires a surgical solution of the dislodging democratically the current regime from power. This process would yield structural change in the system of governance.

In the concluding remarks, one would emphasise that, if the current status quo continues to prevail, it is very likely that, the scenario of change can take a violent and bloody shape. It is possible that, the armed movements from the marginalised regions of Sudan which have been suffering for decades, from persecution and historical injustices of the centre could advance militarily and change the regime in Khartoum by force.

Undoubtedly, if political deadlock continues without hope of swift and concrete resolutions or change, Sudan may cross the threshold of a new phase of chaos and fragmentation. It is likely that, Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile may follow the path of the South and secede. It is worth mentioning that, secession of Darfur will affect Kurdofan. Having stated that, it is up to the Sudanese peoples with the support of the international community to realise a meaningful, peaceful and democratic change in Sudan, to avoid the scenario of fragmentation and new phase violence in Sudan. It is important that, any change has to be genuine and structural.

The armed movements and the political parties require genuine democratic and organisational reforms. It is crucial that, the movements and the political parties should avail the youth and women the opportunities to lead and spearhead the change. This is the only way that, the movements and the political parties can be of relevance, and part of the forthcoming democratic change in Sudan.

The leaders of ruling NCP have to make their choices carefully, either to be part of the change or join the class of the ousted dictators.

In my view, only structural and democratic change which restructures and redistributes equally the power and wealth of the country for all its peoples including the marginalised majority, can maintain the country secure, united and stable.

The Author is a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in the City of New York, can be reached at: ahmedlaw68@hotmail.com or aa3109@columbia.edu

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  • 1 June 2011 03:31, by Aleu

    Ahmed Hussain Adam.

    Just to make some correction in your article. I think the whole population of Black African tribes in Sudan is about 61%. Arab population was about 38% and 1% for immigrants who came from different continents and different nations in around the world. Now during the time when Sudan nation gained independence in 1956, the whole population for Sudan nation was about 15 million, five million was the population of Southern Sudan that is the fact and the ten million were from North Sudan,Western Darfur, Eastern Sudan, Central Sudan which is Nubia Mt, Blue Nile region. In fact that, the Southern Sudan’s population have been decreasing due to civil war and more diseases affecting them but the real population for Southern Sudan is around 14 to 15 population. The 8.9 which people made suggestion early was not correct even the war affect Southern Sudan could not be still in that numbers since there were five million in 1956, anyway this is none of my business to tell you.

    According to your statement, you said, the Darfur has 45 or 43 % population. I am strony disagree because our population for Black people in Sudan including Southern Sudan is about 61% and if you take away 25% or 30% for Southern Sudan’s population how much the percent left for all those regions.? One of the big problems I have been observed on those educators people is exaggration and I am not one of those educated very well but I have to tell the truth to be aware on that.

    Another true thing, I can tell you now is that, Sudan is not going to be divided in to three countries that is the truly I can tell but mark my word. Africa A.U. will not going to accepted another 3 New Sudan nation. The International world body are not going to recognizing another number three in Sudan because they will tells you guys that, if you Darfurian don’t like North Sudan government then, why not going to Southern Sudan government and if you don’t like Southern Sudan government then, choose North Sudan government to stay with. The choices for the rest of others Sudanese are only two, neither to stayed with North Sudan government or to joins Southern Sudan government.

    There is no one that, against the Dafurian determination, look I have been offering in 2005, to make collection of donates from donors and I wrote some letters to our friends to informing them, the root caused of the Darfur problems and asking them to do more help on the Darfurian people. The reality is the actually and there is nothing should be hide from telling the truth. North Sudan domination will do every things they can to make sure you guys are backing to them however, your relationship with Arab in Sudan will never be same again. All Black African tribes would never trust Arab any more in Sudan but you guys may try to go with it but those who lost million lives during the civil war because of Arab root caused we will never like Arab forever.

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    • 1 June 2011 10:46, by Cibaipiath Junub Sudan

      You have made points to Mr. Ahmed Hussien. The Black Africans who still loyal to arabs will one time made their ways to form an Independent State in the North. Sudan shall continue to disintegrate gradually because the islamic ideology from the current regimes. It good opportunity for the Black Africans in the North to unite and fight for their rights. Those black Africans like Darfurians, Nubian and Blue Nile are typically black Africans although they are islamised they are still black and shall suffer from racism. Let them be united. Some of them within Darfur shall accept the offer of the position of appointing Vice President from Darfur and this will blackmail the darfurians from right direction to wrong direction. Let us see.

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      • 2 June 2011 10:18, by Akot Akot

        Mr. Aleu, I can partly disagree with you meaning Mr. Ahmed is right because, separation of the South from greater Sudan has opened windows of claims and it is a right embodied in the UN charter that if injustice is deemed to have supersede all other forms of natural laws governing the existence of humanity, then self determination becomes inevitable in this case.

        In this regard, a continental body like AU is just a nominal entity which has failed to achieve the core principle of protecting rights of humanity on the continent. It is an association meant to protect rulers in the name of sovereignty where citizens become subject to torture. refer to case in the Sudan, Darfur and South, let alone economic and political boils in North Africa.

        Here Prof Ahmed is purely right. There are always three prominent factors for self determination to be granted when injustice has surfaced greatly, Defined geographical entity, which exist in the three states of Darfur, Economic leverage which doesn’t make that particular region to becomes a liability to UN body and finally, a consolidated political body which advocates on behalf of that very region.

        Now Darfur has the above two minus later political body. Darfur factions are so confusing to organize and say one thing. If they can now join their files and ranks, then self determination becomes a definite agenda negotiable on roundtable. It took the South until Dr. Riek and Dr. Lam plus other micro political clubs came together, this gave birth to what we know very well.

        If the armed forces in the Darfur could have guts to learn from the South, Sudan would disintegrate in ugly shape. Prof Ahmed is correct in his opinions, and in terms of figures, well Sudan has never had well designed census to know exactly.

        Akot Akot Dengdit

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    • 5 June 2011 09:44, by mohammed ali

      If you divide Sudan over colour line if there are 61% black, then how much are the white? The messeria for example identify themselves as Arabs, but they are black and they are Africans,likewise the Rizegat, Hamar, Habania,or even if you go to the North Shaygia, Jallean , Danagla or if you go to the east all of them are black and Africans.

      This classification is flawed , simply whe you compare colours , you should compare colour to colour: Black to White .All Sudanese are BLACk and they are proud that they are BLACK.

      You have always overestimitated the number of the people of south Sudan.Even during the last census , which in the south was conducted by Southerners only, you have rejected the result cpmpletely.Now this is history, let us see how much the real number of the new state, you will be stonished to see that it is less than what appeared in the census!

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      • 8 June 2011 16:44, by Khat

        I agree with Mohamed Ali there. There are no Arabs in Sudan. The northerners have been claiming Arab identity and have been brutalizing others on this pretentious identity. Look at how Darfurians were used to pillage Southern Sudan in the name of Arabs and Islam. It came back to them in a heartbeat in 2003. The north has failed to recognize that Islam is a religion NOT a RACE or COLOR of your skin. I have met some northerners and every time I want to talk to them about race they feel ashamed to admit that they are blacks. I had a northern friend who could not accept he was black in a class discussion. He claimed to be an Arab. Those who were in the class where puzzled by this because he was a typical black. I had to explain his identity disease in the context of Sudanese deformed northern society
        I saw some prisoners of war in 1992 when I was 13. It happened that Dr. John was in town and he came to talk to us at an outskirt of Kapoeta where we were in our bush school. We asked Dr. John this question; "Chairman, We thought we were fighting with Arabs but these people look like us?” As polite as usual, Dr. John said, “Boys, we are fighting with those who call themselves Arabs but they are not real Arabs. You are kids and may not understand this but when you grow up, you will know who these people are.” He laughed and he said, “We Shall Win.” Eight years later, I reflected on this and found out that our leader was right.
        Now, let northerners decipher the results of their false identity and let them wrestle with it. Let Darfurians revisit the routes they took to destroy the South and warn their northern brothers of the pending disintegration of the Sudan. Don’t take me wrong, the people of Southern Sudan have forgiven the people of Darfur and they should talk freely with Southerners now with no fear.

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