IMPERATIVES FOR A SECOND BIRTH
As we approach the coming period
of transition, we have got to clear the deck to reveal the truth,
expose misconceptions, and lay the ground for conscience clearing,
and remedial action, to see that justice is done. In this sense, I
herein discuss the issue of Human Rights in Transition. Closely
linked to Human Rights, is the notion of Justice when dealing with
issues of: identity, religion and politics, sustainable democracy,
sustainable economic development, the armed forces, and
This section sees the Sudanese
second birth in the cradle of human rights, it discusses Human
rights, and justice concerning the above mentioned aspects, in the
coming period of Transition.
1: Human Rights in Transition
Chapter 2: Transition and Justice.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE TRANSITION IN SUDAN
Universal religions and secular
ideologies have dealt extensively with the issue of Human Rights.
During the first half of the 20th century, the West has
experienced the worst ever violations of Human Rights. Small wonder,
therefore, that at the end of the bloodiest experience in the whole
of human history, the issue of Human Rights loomed so large and bred
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 10 December 1948.
It declared the dignity and equality of human kind, and in 30
articles, spelt out their universal rights.
Then in 1966, the International
Community issued the International Agreement on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights as detailed in 31 articles. And the International
Agreement on Civil and Political Rights, which in 53 articles spelt
out the details.
many agreements on specific aspects have been issued, for example,
the universal declaration on abolition of discrimination against
women in November 1967, and so on. Those documents have since
provided the definition of universally recognized Human Rights and
the criteria for the civilized behavior of States and societies.
Modern states of the UN have extensively signed them, and as
extensively violated them.
The Sudan, after independence,
signed many of them and lodged reservations.
During the nine years of democratic governments, their violation was
the exception. During the thirty-two years of despotic governments,
their violation was the rule. However, the Sudan suffered a marathon
civil war, during which both sides to the conflict violated Human
An objective survey of Human
violations in the Sudan would support the following four
abuse of Human Rights during the despotic regimes exceeds by far,
such violations during democracy.
violations of Human Rights in the three despotic regimes indicate a
rising graph: from bad, to worse, to worst.
of Human Rights involved all Sudanese citizens, but its incidence on
Southern regions and other marginalized regions was worse.
civil war introduced its own dimension of Human Rights violations,
in which all parties to the armed conflict were involved.
VIOLATIONS IN SUDAN
Following is a list of Human
Rights violations in chronological order. It is not an exhaustive
list, but includes events which had a durable effect on national
1. The bloody
events of August 1955.
2. The mass
death of the prisoners of Kosti prison cell.
3. The coup d’etat
of November 1958.
arrests and torture.
5. The armed
attack on civilians during the MULID celebration in 1961.
persecution of Southern civilians in JUBA and WAW, in 1965.
dissolution of the Communist Party and the expulsion of its members
9. Holding the
uncontested elections in the South, 1965.
illegal dissolution of the constituent assembly, 1968.
11. The murder
of SAYED WILLIAM DENG, 1968.
12. The coup d’etat
of May 1969.
13. The ABA
and WADNUBAWI massacres, and the murder of IMAM AL HADI AL MAHDI and
his followers in AL KURMUK, 1970.
arbitrary arrests, confiscation of property.
trials and tampering with the judiciary, during the second
of own constitutional Human Rights provisions, particularly 1972
17. Events of
1975 coup attempt and after.
19. The events
and repression which followed.
20. Murder of
SAYED MAHMOUD MOHAMMAD TAHA, 1985.
Amputations, floggings, in demagogic application of Islamic
down of civilian planes: August 1986, May 1987.
23. AL DIAIN
revival of inter-tribal slavery, 1988.
25. The June
1989 coup d’etat.
extra-judicial execution of 28 officers 1990.
arbitrary arrests, persecution of women.
of the rules of war by parties to the conflict.
treatment of the displaced peoples.
30. The use of
food aid and its denial as a weapon in civil war.
Kidnappings, abductions, forced labor.
Persecution of civilians in war affected areas.
Sponsorship of terrorism.
trials and tampering with the judiciary.
Allegations of revival of slavery during NIF regime.
41. The cruel
treatment of Prisoners of war.
subversion of education for military purposes.
43. The use of
food as a weapon.
There is a
perception, advocated by many, that the story of human rights
violations is a one sided track of Northern oppression and Southern
victimization. I have already outlined the misdeeds of the different
regimes, which governed the Sudan since independence. Northern
political forces, which dominated these governments, bear
responsibility for them.
put the matter in objective perspective, I offer the following
Much of Northern policies towards the south were negatively
influenced by the southern policy initiated by the British colonial
Much Southern perception of the
situation sees and condemns the Northern reactions without
sufficiently recognizing British culpability.
Apart from the issue of Northern bad faith, Southern political
ineptness is responsible for failure to represent Southern interests
strongly enough especially under democratic conditions. The
challenge in Democracy is to be able to organize to serve political
ideas and/or interests. Southern society has produced effective
military organizations, not so political organizations which are the
bread and butter of a democracy. The first Southern party after
independence, the Liberal Party was a fragile organization, which
had little political clout and allowed its members to be manipulated
by other parties. SANU, which had in SAYED WILLIAM DENG an able
Statesman, was undermined by the armed military wing, ANYANYA, and
after the death of SAYED WILLIAM, no effective leadership or
organization succeeded him. The Southern Front, which was composed
of a group of competent intellectuals, had not been able to evolve a
pattern of leadership and organization. Association with the Nimeiri
regime arrested its political evolution. This frustrated and
disappointed all those who did political business with it! The
numerous parties, which were formed after the 1985 uprising, were
locally based quasi-tribal grouping that served as electoral
agencies. Even then, they were prone to fragmentation on a personal
and tribal basis.
The SPLM/A is an effective
organization, but clearly the political identity is absorbed in the
military. Its ability to develop a cohesive effective political
organization without a military backbone is a future challenge.
Unless Southern political opinion forms effective political
organization, or joins Northern parties on equitable terms, Southern
interests will not be guaranteed under democratic conditions.
As a corollary of failure to form effective organizations of
political assertion, and more success with military organization,
Southern political expression tends to resort hastily to violent
means. Violence may be justified in certain circumstances, but to be
the norm, it is self-defeating, because it may lead to effective
countervailing reaction, and because it becomes a means of settling
internal disputes and so fragmentation. The hasty and massive resort
to violence in August 1955 did a disservice to Southern interests
and stamped South / North relations with a negative character. The
same may be said about the shooting down of the two civilian planes
immediately after top level negotiations between the Prime Minister
of Sudan and the SPLM/A chairman in July 1986. Negotiations, which
did not make a breakthrough, but kept the door open for further
development of the peace process. The failure to recognize the
political and constitutional change, which took place on 6th
April 1985, was a political blunder.
There is a tendency among many Sudanese intellectuals to lump the
governments which governed the Sudan together making little
distinction between legitimately constituted governments, and the
police States created by coups d’etat. Amongst Southern
intellectuals and politicians, this failure to distinguish between
the two categories of government, portrays the North as one culpable
entity united in oppressing the South. No doubt there are common
Northern misconceptions about the South, but substantial Southern
political opinion branded together two types of Northern dominated
governments in an unjustified way. In this context, a well respected
Southern intellectual- Politician SAYED ABEL ALIER called his book
on the Southern problem “A String of Broken Promises “. The
The promise by the
political leaders to consider federal status for the South (in 1955)
when the country’s constitution is drafted went unfulfilled because
the constitution making process was aborted by the 17th November
recommendation of the Twelve- man Committee and the All-party
Conference (1967) were rendered fruitless by the 1969 coup d’etat.
In both cases, the Northern party
to the agreements and the politicians concerned were immobilized by
the new military government. The 1972 peace agreement was reached
with Nimeiri. It was essentially reached with an illegally
constituted government, and with a “leader" who systemically broke
all deals with Northerners and Southerners alike.
More to the point:
initiatives and tendencies to resolve the civil war by political
agreement were associated with democratic governments, namely, the
Round Table Conference 1965, the Twelve Man Committee 1966, The All
Party Peace Conference 1967, The KOKADAM Declaration 1986, The
Sudanese initiative 1988, The Palace Transition Program 1989, and
the scheduled constitutional conference for 18 September 1989. Even
the June 1995 ASMARA Resolutions were reached between the SPLM/A and
the coalition of political forces, which constituted the government
in the third democracy.
initiatives were associated with the despotic governments, namely,
1963, 1975, 1983, 1991. The Addis agreement of 1972 was reached
during the second despotic regime, however, it was based on the
homework of the previous democratic government, and the regime which
signed it, proved that it was not consistent with its character by
soon breaking it, and preparing the country for a far worse civil
war 1983 than the one it ended in 1972.
POLICY TOWARDS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
I call for a policy, which is both
effective and legitimate in terms of human rights criteria.
FIRST OF ALL:
That policy should aim at exposing the facts so that the truth is
established in an officially sanctioned way so that the findings
form an authoritative version of events over above partisan
That policy must in a viable way represent the will of the people.
as we shall see, each country will
be affected by its own specific conditions which influence how it
deals with the issue, particularly between conditions which
necessitate measures of clemency, and conditions which demand
prosecution and punishment. In the first case, that of clemency, the
policy should be consistent with the limits imposed on the State by
international law. In the second case, that of prosecution and
punishment, international standards related to truth, treatment of
offenders, and penalties, international standards should be
Establishing the truth has a
therapeutic effect because in the words of Roger Errera, member of
the French consiel d’etat “memory is the ultimate form of justice
“. It is also a deterrent because “telling the truth about
the past undermines the mental foundation of human rights abuses”.
An important aspect of any
effective policy is to establish a qualified mechanism, for example,
a TRUTH and impeachment commission, which should find the
facts and decide upon their impeachability.
The violations should be
investigated under six categories:
Political and constitutional
Crimes against humanity.
Crimes against individuals.
Legislation should regulate the
composition of the truth and impeachment commission, its terms of
reference, the time frame, and its procedures.
Apart from that issue,
constitutional and political violations should be dealt with by a
special court to try the offenders of the May 1969, and June 1989
The truth about the November 1958
coup d’etat will be uncovered by the truth and impeachment
commission, but there should be no prosecution for three reasons: -
The November Junta negotiated the
terms of democratic transformation with the representatives of the
people. Those terms involved amnesty for the coup making.
the November Junta was the least abusive of human rights among the
all the November offenders are now dead – accountable to the
The special court to try the May
1969, and June 1989, offenders should be established by law which
would empower it to prosecute and punish them.
The May offenders have managed to
escape the punishment that they deserve, because they were tried by
an ordinary court of law and because the June 1989 coup decided to
offer them amnesty.
Our own experience in the Sudan
shows that prosecution of coup makers especially for violating the
constitution cannot be decided on abstract principles of justice.
The balance of power and the mode of transfer of power influence
General ABBOUD still had official
army support when he decided to respond to the call for democracy.
When his military commanders offered the representatives of the
people to hand over power and allow democratic transformation to
take place in exchange for amnesty and temporary nominal power for
ABBOUD, the representatives of the people unanimously accepted the
deal. Not so with Nimeiri. Responding to the popular uprising of
April 1985, and the specific call for the armed forces to support
the call for democracy, the whole military establishment decided to
expel Nimeiri and terminate his regime without any conditions.
Consequently, the offenders of the
May 1969 Junta were put on trial. Whatever plans we may envisage for
the June 1989 Junta what actually happens to them cannot be decided
before hand on moral and legal grounds only.
S. HUNTINGTON made a study of
democratic transformation in scores of countries. Some
transformation into genuine democracy developed in terms of the
regime’s own decision to democratize. In the case of BRAZIL, for
example, the decision to democratize was the regime’s own decision
without pressure. In many other cases, democratization is the result
of an agreement between the regime and the opposition. In a few
cases. Democracy comes as a result of the overthrow of the despotic
regime. He offered the following guide lines for the would be
If transformation or transplacement
occurred: Do not attempt
to prosecute authoritarian officials for human rights abuses. The
political costs of such an effort will outweigh any moral gains.
If the regime is overthrown:
Prosecute the leaders of
the authoritarian regime promptly (within a year of your coming to
power) while making clear that you will not prosecute middle and
lower ranking officials.
a means to achieve full and dispassionate public accounting of how
and why the crimes were committed.
that on this issue, each alternative presents grave problems, and
that the least unsatisfactory course may well be: do not
prosecute, do not punish, do not forgive, and above all do not
However, there can be no specific
policy to be decided in anticipation: In Latin America, for example,
almost all-democratic transformations, except in Argentine, have
been accompanied by a law of amnesty. In Africa provisions for
amnesty have also accompanied most of democratic transformations.
The two exceptions being Sudan after the overthrow of Nimeiri in
1985, and Ethiopia after the overthrow of Mengistu in 1991.
There are two conclusions, which
If the despotic regime is
overthrown, there is the widest scope for prosecutions and
punishments. No political limits exist to the quest for justice and
If democratization comes as a
result of transplacement, i.e. negotiated agreement, some form of
clemency is inevitable. “The issue here is how to settle a past
account without upsetting the present transition “. (KADAR ASMAL,
Chairman of ANC commission, South Africa).
Whatever the mode of
transformation, an authentic version of the TRUTH about the past
must be established.
Certain crimes against individuals,
and compensation for certain violations should not fall within the
terms of amnesty.
However, to day, there is an
emerging international aspect to transitional justice.
One hundred and twenty States have
voted in July 1998 to set up a permanent International Criminal
Court to deal with human rights violations in four categories of
abuse, they are: crimes of aggressive war-making, war crimes, crimes
against Humanity and crimes against Human Rights.
Such a mechanism, when it
materializes will open new horizons and subject human rights
offenders to prosecution and punishment whatever the internal
arrangements of their position may be! Also, the international human
rights constituency has grown enormously with at least 800
internationally active agencies at work. They investigate and
publish information about human rights abuses everywhere. Some of
them are sure to seek to prosecute offenders if a mechanism is
In December 1998, the UMMA Party
appointed a committee to study the entire alternative National and
International possibilities. Action should begin even before
TRANSITION AND JUSTICE
International charters, and
agreements on Human Rights have a very wide range indeed. The NDA’s
ASMARA Resolutions of June 1995 have made a decisive contribution to
policies and institutions, which should embody a rebirth of the
Sudan, and realize the aspiration of all its peoples. Without
repeating those resolutions, I shall comment on the most Important
aspects of Sudanese renewal, under the following eight headings:
1) Sudanese identity, the
2) Religion and politics.
3) Sustainable democracy.
4) Sustainable economic
5) The armed forces.
7) International relations.
It is a basic conflict over these
issues which led to polarization, violence, and violations in human
rights. Unless the cause is uprooted, the effect will soon follow.
Therefore an approach to Human
Rights in the TRANSITION in Sudan should transcend the static
concept of fact-finding, rectification, and redress for the past
abuses, and espouse the dynamic concept of sustainable Human Rights.
Modern Sudanese history was
dominated by two views relating to the cultural dimensions, namely:
1) That the
development of a modern society, modern state, and national unity is
only possible at the cost of transcending inherited cultures, i.e.,
a policy of cultural negation. .
2) That to achieve
National unity, and deter alien acculturation, and build our
authentic identity, the dominant culture should absorb all other
cultural identities i.e., a policy of cultural domination.
Modern history has proven that
attempts to uproot inherited cultures are failures, and indeed
counter productive, for example, Turkey and ALGERIA. The attempt to
impose a dominant culture on other cultures has been resisted,
caused polarization, and civil wars.
International consciousness about
cultural affairs has by-passed such concepts. The reports of the
South Commission1990, mentioned neglect of the cultural aspect as
one of the reasons why development plans have failed. The report of
the International Commission on Culture and Development 1996, cited
the creativity of Human cultural diversity, and advocated Human
cultural rights as the latest addition to the Human Rights
A Sudanese cultural charter is
being worked out to the satisfaction of all Sudan’s cultural
The following eight points are
suggested for the charter:
recognize Sudan’s cultural and religious pluralism, to establish a
cultural map for the Sudan, to guarantee the cultural rights of all
the Sudanese communities and to establish mutual recognition and
coexistence between the cultural communities.
plans, the media, and educational programs should recognize the
cultural diversity of the Sudan, encourage cultural development, and
accommodate the different cultures in a balanced way.
policy should be decentralized to make room for regional cultural
identities without compromising the principle of citizenship as the
basis for constitutional rights and duties, and without violating
rights and obligations to the center.
cultures are not and should not be conceived as static. Recognizing
the importance of cultural identity should not mean the rejection of
cultural contact and exchange.
universal principles and values should be assimilated by all
cultures, they are, democracy, social justice, the pursuit of
knowledge, scientific knowledge, and the values common to
encourage the enlightened expressions of Islam and Christianity, to
avoid all compulsion in religious matters, to encourage dialogue
between the faiths, and to make room for African spiritual values
which give great concern for relations between MAN and NATURE,
between the rational and the instinctive, and between contemporary
and past generations. The regulation of friendly contact between the
faiths, and proselytization to take place in a climate of tolerance
and voluntary choice.
recognition of Arabic as the National language and lingua franca.
Recognition of regional languages in their respective regions.
Recognition of English as the first foreign language to facilitate
teaching, training, researches, and contact with the outside world.
To encourage inter
African cultural exchanges, Afro-Arab cultural cooperation, and
friendly dialogue between cultures and civilizations to produce a
universal cultural charter as a necessary beam in an enlightened
Religion has played a vital role in
Sudanese history. The archaeology of the ancient kingdoms of Sudan
in MEROE and NABATA shows the sense of their religious zeal.
Then the Christian kingdoms of
ALWA, and MACOURA ruled Sudan. Then the Islamic kingdoms of FUR,
FUNG, TAGALI, and MUSABBAAT.
Then comes MOHAMAD ALI’S conquest
of the Sudan in 1821.
One of the main reasons for the
NATIONAL Religious revolution in Sudan – The MAHDIA – is the
religious violations of the outgoing government – so called TURKYA.
Then in 1898 came the so-called
Anglo-Egyptian Conquest of the Sudan. At independence, Sudanese
identity reasserted it self in terms of the policies of the
Religious identity loomed large in
the programs of the mass political parties. That religious Islamic
association alienated non-Moslems who had their own Christian and
African religious beliefs.
Sudanese political opinion began to
appreciate the need for an agreement to accommodate religious
plurality. Just when a constitutional conference was envisaged in
September 1989 to settle the issue among others, the June 1989 coup
d’etat put the clock back.
The Sudanese are a deeply religious
people, and even when they start with an anti-religious position,
they soon move in the opposite direction, for example, the SPLM/A
expressed Marxist Leninist tendencies at the beginning. However, at
a later date, in 1992, Dr. John Garang took a positive attitude to
religion and called the New Sudan Church Council addressing the
general assembly of the NSCC: ”The spiritual wing of the movement.”
Statements such as the separation
of religion from State, and the separation of religion from politics
emerged in European history at a time when emergent democratic
society faced Church backed obstruction.
As European Statehood matured since
the peace of Westphalia in 1648, and since European and American
Democracy developed and matured in the 19th century, Western
democratic societies found a pragmatic balance between Religion and
State, Religion and Politics. Churches and Religious organizations
are very powerful in western societies. Almost all-European flags
have the Cross in their symbolism.
In Britain, the Queen is both head
of State and Church.
The House of Lords, which is part
of the British legislative and judicial process, has a large number
of Church's Lords. Many powerful western political parties include
the description “Christian “ in their name.
Even in the most glaringly secular
State, the U.S.A, the political clout of religious institutions is
considerable. The current domination of the American Houses of
Congress by the Republican party owes so much to the powerful
support of the Christian fundamentalist groups, pushed into action
by the Clinton administration’s too “Liberal “ policies especially
on abortion. Disgusted by the fall out from the MONICA GATE,
Christian fundamentalist leadership, which has in the first place
insisted on impeaching Clinton and expelling him from office, is now
moving in the opposite direction. Pat Robertson, the prominent
Christian fundamentalist leader has had enough, he declared that
America had other priorities than to deal in scandal. His opinion
may be an important factor in making the Senate settle for an
alternative to a full-blown trial.
The American President is required
to take an oath upon taking office.
Oath taking is required by the
constitution for many transactions. President GEORGE WASHINGTON
said:” Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life,
if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the
instruments of investigation in courts of justice “.
The most mundane of U.S. articles,
the dollar, bears the inscription:” In God we trust”. How can
religion be separated from State?
The State is people, territory, and
powers: executive, legislative and judiciary. The State has to
recognize the religious beliefs of the people. The State has to
legislate to regulate some aspects of a national religious
community. The courts have to adjudicate in such matters.
Constitutional legal and judiciary procedures involve extensive
oaths, which have a religious content, and so on.
How can politics be
separated from religion?
Genuine religious beliefs influence
the political opinions and principles of citizens. Those who can
separate them are those who really have no religious beliefs. It is
not a question of separation, but of discarding religious beliefs.
To speak about
secularism is also unacceptable, because in essence, secularism is a
philosophy which confines meaning in This Time and This Place, i. e,
worldly significance. It is a word with very rich connotations,
which invite and perpetuate controversy.
What we are really
looking for is not a reduction of religion, but an elevation of
citizenship identity, and protecting it from the encroachment of any
extra-citizenship considerations. We seek to establish:
Citizenship as the
basis of constitutional rights and duties.
party, which seeks power to the exclusion of others on religious
grounds, should be permitted.
There shall be no
discrimination on grounds of religion, race, gender, or culture.
Citizens should be free to pursue
their religious beliefs so long as they do so democratically, and
seek no political or constitutional advantage for themselves as
believers, and recognize the principle that the Nation/State is for
all its citizens, without discrimination. What we shall seek to
establish and protect, are the rights of believers. However, there
are some sections of Sudanese political society, which feel it
necessary to devalue the rights of believers. In May 1998, in
Pennsylvania University, SAYED STEPHEN WANDU, made the following
“Some of the Northern
elites, which call themselves secularists, seek to enhance their
position under the umbrella of identity and cultural pluralism.
After they have failed to find a mass base for their ideology, they
turned their attention Southwards to look for a cover for their
ideology or to persuade Southern elites to accept their ideology to
fight for it on their behalf. Those Northern elites always express
their ideology in extremist terms. They seek to question and vilify
Islamic Arabic civilization, and look for an alternative to it, it
is a counter productive stratagem, because it leads to extremism in
the opposite direction”.
There is no basis in Sudan for
government to be based on dynastic authority.
All attempts to base legitimacy on
dictatorship have been inherently unstable, and have had
catastrophic results. There is no alternative to democracy as a
basis of government in the Sudan.
However, three times democratic
government in the Sudan were subverted. Apart from the general
reasons which tend to undermine democracy in conditions of
under-development, there are eight specific reasons which have to be
tackled to make democracy sustainable, they are:
continuous civil- war. Even in conditions of mature democratic
systems, several aspects of democracy are suspended during war
conditions. The civil war has influenced democratic governments
negatively, because, it extended military influence, it absorbed
human and material resources diverting them from development and
welfare, it increased security risks and required greater vigilance.
Civil war conditions, especially when it is an extended affair
involving whole regions, tax democratic governments to the utmost
limit, and obstruct their functioning.
is not simple vote power, which can decide an issue on the basis of
a 51% vote. There are two social forces which the one man one vote
majoritarian system fails to accommodate sufficiently, they are:
social forces which in the underdeveloped stage of the country
constitute a minority, feel that the one man one vote system, does
not give them a voice commensurate with their real social power.
That makes many sections of those modern social forces question the
legitimacy of the one man one vote system.
minorities which are sufficiently conscious of a separate identity,
and which feel that the majoritarian system somehow constrain them.
needs to be qualified by certain balancing measures to absorb these
frustrations without seriously undermining the one-man one-vote
basis of representative democracy.
mass political parties are influenced by religious and tribal
loyalties. However, they are less sectarian than political parties
in many Middle Eastern countries, and less tribal than many African
parties. A law for political party organization should help make
them more national and more democratic. The less national and less
democratic they are, the less is the legitimacy of their authority.
On the other hand, there are the doctrinaire political parties of
ISLAMICIST, Communist, Arabist, and Africanist disposition. They are
really committed to totalitarian ideologies, and as such constitute
a threat to democracy, because they have used the rights guaranteed
in democracy, to undermine it. Party political reform should aim to
rectify political parties and make them national and democratic.
There will always be differences between political parties because
of the differences in their principles and the social interests they
represent. Such differences are of the essence of democracy.
unions are basic constituents of civil society in a democracy. They
have a legitimate function. They have played quasi- political roles
in the struggle against foreign domination and dictatorship. That
type of national political role is justifiable. Doctrinaire parties
and ambitious individuals have attempted to use them politically to
effect a civil coup against democratically established governments.
This constitutes a threat to democracy and must be politically and
of the press is a corner stone of democracy. Under the first and
second democracy in the Sudan, the Sudanese press behaved in a
responsible way and constituted viable industry and media organs. In
the third democracy, the press was most irresponsible and played an
important role in undermining democracy. Policy and legislation
should firmly seek to establish a healthy free press. Any failure to
do so will subvert the democratic system.
Independence of the judiciary is crucial to democracy. The judiciary
should mind the functions of the other organs of state without
abdicating its legitimate power. Its judges should be politically
neutral to avoid making a sham of the independence of the judiciary.
A reform of the judiciary in the light of past experience is
essential to sustainable democracy.
two most important achievements of modern political development are
the peaceful succession of political power, and the subservience of
the armed forces to the elected civilian command. The Sudanese armed
forces have a tradition of political interventions during which they
were instrumental in sacrificing their own discipline and doing a
disservice to the country. Democracy can only be sustained when the
armed forces are through specific policy measures, and specific
legislation, subordinated to the command of the elected government
and constrained by appropriate means from any coup making
the drawbacks here stated have translated in making democratic
government (the executive) institutionally weak. There are other
reasons in the Sudanese political circumstances, which further
weakened government, if that was possible! Throughout the history of
democratic government in Sudan, no political party was able to win a
majority to enable it to form a government. Parties, therefore,
resorted to coalition making. Coalition government is by definition
weak. It is weakened further by the fact that the coalition partners
in the Sudan share the Cabinet and the Sovereignty or State Council.
The Primeministership goes to the larger party, the Presidency of
the state council goes to the other party. The parliamentary
constitution, which is the basis of the distribution of power
between the organs of the state, requires that all executive power
be in the hands of the cabinet. The council of state, like the
British Queen, reigns but does not govern. This concept is so alien
to indigenous culture, that there is no meaningful Arabic
translation for it. Even if it was not so alien, however, the
smaller party tends to use its position in the Council of State to
compensate for its smaller status in the cabinet.
A continuous weakness, nay, crisis
accompanied executive power in the Sudanese democratic government.
The Sudan, especially under the conditions of decentralization, even
federation, requires a strong executive. It was the federal pattern
of decentralization, which prompted the Founding Fathers of the
American Constitution to seek a strong presidency. Any return to the
institutions of democracy, undermine democracy as defined and
experienced in the Sudan will simply reproduce the crisis, undermine
democracy, and encourage would be coup makers to overthrow it. In
the conditions of the Sudan, a strong executive is an imperative for
Man does not live by
bread alone, but bread is necessary for his survival, without which
all the other worthy things come to naught. The challenge of
development in the contemporary world is the most serious challenge
which states and societies have to face. So far, for many countries,
the development challenge has not been faced with the determination
and mobilization it requires for lifting itself up from poverty and
misery. A dedicated commitment, in contemporary circumstances to
development is an imperative for human dignity as well as for
Economic development had been
measured in terms of growth in income per head. Sustainable
economic development should be measured, in addition to growth in
income per head of population, in terms of another four criteria,
(A) The impact of
the growth in incomes on the growth of social welfare, so that it is
reflected in better education, better health, longevity, and all the
accepted welfare criteria.
could be insensitive to environmental issues, squandering natural
resources, and endangering their future. Therefor, development
should safeguard the sustainable utilization of natural resources.
(C) Culture, the
sum total of values, beliefs, attitudes, customs, and patterns of
behavior in a given society is a vital pillar of socio-economic
development. Development strategies, which failed to address the
cultural dimension, have created a climate of apathy, alienation,
and strife. It prepared the ground for reactionary cultural protest.
(D) Failure to
espouse a regionally balanced development strategy fueled regional
grievances and ultimately caused violent conflict, even civil war.
This had an adverse effect upon development.
If and when growth in income per
head is accompanied by positive developments in these four aspects,
the resultant development is what I describe as sustainable
development. Before the onset of the Sudanese totalitarian regimes,
the Sudanese economy was viable in that it produced enough to feed
its population, to realize a social surplus to finance a moderate
degree of development. Production also supplied enough exports to
pay for the necessary imports, and even a balance of payments
surplus. The Sudanese national currency was $ 3.3 to the pound. The
economic policies of the Sudanese democratic regimes were rational
and pragmatic. They could be faulted on matters of omission, they
failed to restructure the economy and cater for sectional and
regional grievances. The economic policies of the Sudanese
totalitarian regimes, on the other hand, committed errors of
commission; they were trigger-happy seeing an effective military
solution to national conflicts. They had to develop enormous
security systems to suppress the civilian population- an internal
war front. Therefore, they expanded military and security
expenditure, to an Nth power to pay for it. That, plus a fall in
production levels in the economic performance of both totalitarian
regimes, resulted in continuous increasing internal and external
financial deficits. They are responsible for the monetary
indiscipline, which led to the huge cancerous expansion in
government indebtedness, and in the volume of money. The financial
and monetary indiscipline reflected itself in the worthlessness of
the National currency. The pound became 0.04 of a cent.
The May regime saddled the country
with the external debt - a monument to its financial folly and its
subservience to foreign manipulation. The two totalitarian systems
were responsible for a doctrinaire attitude to the economy, which
harmed it in both the leftist and rightist expressions.
For a number of decades, Communism
advocated a short cut towards economic development and social
justice. That conception influenced economic thought in much of the
With the collapse of Communism in much of Eastern Europe, the
planned economy fell into disrepute. The swing translated itself
into a pervasive belief in free market fundamentalism. Development
by the state has failed, so the answer is development without the
state. However, such a swing back in the opposite direction is
unwarranted. Development without the state would also fail. Yes, the
state can not fulfill the role of the free market. Nor can the free
market replace the state in its role as development promoter. To
make the free market possible, and to promote development, the state
must secure the following:
maintain the rule of law to ensure the legal basis of society,
protect rights of property, and guard the sanctity of contracts.
maintain sound macro-economic policies in the financial, monetary,
trade, and investment areas.
micro-economic policies conducive to economic activity.
development of physical infrastructure in transport, communications,
development of social infrastructure in health, education, and
Seek to redress
vulnerable sections of society.
Be mindful of
positive association of development with culture.
The free market as promoted and
complemented by this positive economic role for the state, is the
theoretical framework for sustainable development.
THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL OF THE
The Sudan is well endowed with
(A) A third of
the enormous land area of the Sudan is cultivable, it is supplied
with water from three sources: rivers, seasonal rains, and ground
country has extensive natural grazing areas and forests. The graze
land sustains a huge animal population: camels, cows, sheep, and
goats amount to 100 million heads.
wealth: gold, silver, bauxite, tin, copper, zinc, iron ore,
manganese, lead, and others. Plus constructional minerals: granite,
marble, gypsum, and others.
oil, hydroelectric power capacity, and solar energy potential.
industrial capacity is enormous. Already capital formation in
industry is worth more than eight billion dollars. (Current
production levels are far below capacity).
Sudanese expatriate capital is enormous. My estimate is $70 billion.
there are two other valuable assets for the Sudan:
human resources. The Sudan has a rich endowment of professionals,
technicians, artists, teachers and so on. At present, the majority
is expatriated. However, in many cases, the expatriation of many of
them is a temporary affair. Many of them could be repatriated in
appropriate circumstances. The Sudanese traditional sector is
another fund of human resources. It could play a decisive role in
development. In fact, these two sectors: the expatriate Sudanese,
and the traditional sector of the economy, have of late kept the
Sudanese economy afloat. Their relative distance from the impact of
the central government in Khartoum protected them from its
the enormous regional and
international good will for the Sudan, which is of great potential
value. During the third democracy, and in spite of cold war
conditions, and Sudan’s
genuinely non-aliened policy at the time, and the negative attitudes
of the leaders of the West towards the third democracy in the Sudan,
most of the O.E.C.D states, particularly the Netherlands, Japan,
Italy, Germany, Canada, Finland, Britain and others have contributed
generously to development aid in the Sudan -the exceptions amongst
the developed countries were USA and France.
The contribution of development aid
to Sudan by many Gulf states was even more generous. The total
amount of development aid was $3.5 billion.
MEASURES FOR PROMPT ACTION
As soon as conditions permit a
radical change of economic policy in the Sudan, the following
measures have to be effected:
establishment of financial discipline. From the expenditure side:
Termination of the excess military and security expenditures
necessitated by the totalitarian nature of the regime. The same goes
for the elaborate tiers of administration, which have inflated
expenditure without any sense. From the revenue side: reform of the
taxation system to make its flow consistent with acceptable levels,
to enhance its equity, to eliminate double taxation, and to
coordinate central and regional taxation.
establishment of monetary discipline. To restore the leadership role
of the central Bank, reform the banking system to banish partisan
manipulation. To apply measures aimed at siphoning the enormous
volume of money, along with other reforms to restore the value of
rehabilitation of existing, agricultural, industrial, and public
utility assets, and the provision of necessary inputs for
D. For several
objective reasons, we have to appeal for forgiving the external
rehabilitation of war affected areas especially productive capacity,
social infrastructure. And the resettlement of the displaced
ECONOMIC POLICIES TO BE
Some current economic policies have
a sound basis and should be continued and reformed. They are:
decontrol of prices and the elimination of subsidies to free the
market. The policy was applied without any attempt to mitigate the
plight of the most vulnerable social groups. This should be
is another policy towards a free market economy. However, public
economic enterprise, per se, is not uneconomic. Before the
catastrophic May regime, the public sector in the Sudanese economy
was profitable paying almost 50% of the government budget out of its
surpluses. It was the demagogic socialism of the regime, which
expanded and deformed the public sector, and plunged it into debt.
Some aspects of the economy would continue as public enterprises.
However, the bulk of agricultural, industrial, trade, and services
activity should be privatized. The privatization carried out by the
Act of 1992 is a misnomer. The assets involved were undervalued, and
they were sold under the counter without proper marketing measures.
The whole program should be reviewed.
creation of a Khartoum stock exchange is a step in the right
However, the policies and
practices of the regime have resulted in:
of macro-economic policies, insecurity of property rights, and a
flood of arbitrary measures. This undermined confidence in the
break in the country’s
external economic relations. Consequently, the Khartoum Stock
Exchange is no more than a shadow stock market.
RELEVANT ECONOMIC LESSONS
There is now a fund of rich
development experiences, which could be consulted with advantage.
agricultural policies which raised the level of agricultural
productivity enormously, for example, India and Egypt.
on income generating activities in rural areas through development
of traditional sector, promotion of cooperatives, and grass roots
community projects, for example, India and Bangladesh.
industrial policies, which have had a positive impact on industrial
production, for example, East Asian countries.
promotion of the export sector of the economy in terms of quality
control, marketing, and trade finance, for example, Egypt and Tunis.
It was believed that
economic development initially involves sacrifices in terms of
social services. Recent experiences, especially in South East Asia,
proved otherwise, that investment in social services means
investment in human capital and is most rewarding in development.
Education in Sudan to
day suffers from some basic deformities, namely:
Decrease in sum
total and quality of expenditure on education.
diverted towards higher education at the cost of general and
reflect the narrow ideological basis of the regime, which would
accentuate cultural alienation and conflict.
policy of the regime is completely insensitive to economic
There are now 30
universities in the Sudan, many of them just labels. Even the older
universities have been abused by the so-called
“ educational revolution”.
The principal of Khartoum university said that its budget before
was worth $12 million, and after it, its worth became $1 million!
The Sudanese Academicians’
Association organized a conference on higher education in Cairo in
1998. There are national conferences on general and technical
education scheduled. The analyses and recommendations of these
conferences should be put to a commission on education, to review
the whole educational plan and curricula, and issue a blue print for
educational reform abiding by the following directives:
is a comprehensive endeavor aiming at: the dissemination of
knowledge, of values, and of technology. It should educate people
and train them in all walks of life, for the whole duration of life.
should be geared to development and provide its requirements.
cultural charter of the Sudan should guide education.
d- Civics and
Human rights to be built into the educational curricula.
e- To decide
the optimum mix between government and private responsibility for
education, and abide by decentralization.
Health services in Sudan have
collapsed. The deterioration in preventive health care is even
worse. An updated national comprehensive strategy for primary health
care and the provision of health for all (should be taken). It
should aim to control and eliminate endemic and epidemic diseases
and malnutrition, achieve 100% immunization, reduce infant
mortality, and provide specialized medical facilities strategy under
the guide lines of the World Health Organization (W.H.O) and
the special requirements of the Sudan, for example, the expansion of
rural health networks in order to ensure equitable distribution of
health resources, and a program to repatriate the considerable
health personnel should be covered by the National Health
A National commission on health
should be set up to execute the recommendations of the national
Sudan to day suffers from soil
degradation, encroaching desertification. There is no meaningful
land use policy and no comprehensive natural resource framework to
govern the planning, monitoring, and control the ecosystems. The
deterioration in administration and the conditions imposed by the
circumstances of the civil war have resulted in almost total neglect
of the natural environment. A national environment conference should
be held to lay down a national environmental action plan guided by
the recommendation of the UN conference on environment and
development, agenda 21, 1992, and Sudan’s special environmental
problems. A national commission on environment and natural resources
should be formed to formulate a blue print for the environment.
The three national commissions,
on education, health, and the environment,
should be fed by the appropriate national conferences, lay down the
respective blue prints, and be established under the country’s top
CIVIL SERVICE AND LABOR REFORM
The reforms here envisaged will get
nowhere without radical reform of the Civil Service. The present
Khartoum regime has politically manipulated the Civil Service. A
radical reform program for the civil service should be initiated,
the partisan aspects eliminated, and the implications of the
decentralization built into the system.
Labor legislation and trade union
organization have been politically tampered with by the Khartoum
regime. The most important disservice to the civil service and labor
is the effect of inflation on wages and salaries. There is a need
for a new wages policy, new labor laws, and a new system for trade
union organization. Without such radical measures, it is not
possible to realize social peace, and in democratic conditions, the
stability required for economic development will be absent!
Closely associated with civil
service and labor reform is the issue of corruption. Corruption is
the other side of the coin of dictatorship. Dictatorship means power
without accountability. “Power corrupts, and absolute power
Development requires protection
from theft, protection from violence, protection from arbitrary
measures, and a neutral fair judicial system. There is a positive
link between absence of corruption and development. Transparency
enhanced International consciousness about this factor. Sudan was
relatively corruption-free. That state should be restored.
There are several important
infra-structural schemes, roads, especially the Southern and Western
highways, dams, especially raising ROSEIRIS, SETIT, and HAMADAB,
schemes to increase the discharge of the Nile and so on. A
comprehensive plan mapping and deciding the priorities of the
infra-structural schemes should be established.
I have outlined a call for
sustainable development. The legitimate political authority, which
is committed to sustainable development, should phase out its
implementation policies in three phases:
A short run
Phase one, short run:
The first year of that policy would
be a year of intensive care and involve life saving measures.
Phase two, medium run:
The next three years will concentrate on rehabilitation,
resettlement, eliminating the effects of war, dispensing with the
relics of the totalitarian regime, and fine tuning the development
Phase three, long run:
The third phase will aim at
achieving the goals of sustainable development.
HOW TO FINANCE SUSTAINABLE
The present economic predicament
has put the survival of the Sudanese State at stake. Sustainable
economic development is now imperative to save the Sudan from
collapse. It is also necessary to guarantee peace and stability in
At present, the country is so
impoverished; it will be unable to pull itself from its own
The potential sources of finance
for the sustainable development program are:
International finance agencies.
flows through Stock exchange.
In 1987, when the effects of war
endangered the survival of many Sudanese nationals, I addressed the
UNISEF to hold an extra-ordinary conference in Khartoum to convene
all the NGO’S concerned, and the UN agencies. The director of the
UNISEF responded positively and held a conference in Khartoum. I
addressed them with the size of the problem and suggested what we
could do in terms of our own contribution, and the facilities we
would make. The conference studied the situation and responded very
The recommendations of the
conference, which were subsequently accepted by the SPLA without
qualification formed the SUDAN LIFELINE.
In 1988, after the extra-ordinary
rains and floods devastated the country, my government mobilized its
central and regional departments to make a thorough study of the
damage in the capital and the rest of the country.
We then addressed the World Bank to
help. The World Bank responded positively. Under its auspices we
held a conference in Khartoum and presented it with a rehabilitation
The conference responded with
nearly half a billion dollars fund, 10% of which to be contributed
by the government of Sudan.
That is how the Sudan, at the time,
turned the devastation to advantage and executed a highly successful
The humanitarian war calamity of
1987, and the devastation of 1988 due to natural causes, are small
scale compared to the present devastation of the economy of the
When the Sudan is liberated from
those who caused that devastation, an extraordinary conference under
the auspices of the World Bank should be convened to be attended by
representatives of all the above listed potential sources of finance
to consider our program for sustainable development and ear mark
their expected contributions.
In the past, the legitimacy of
government was based on dynastic, charismatic, or ideological
In these circumstances the armed
forces were subservient to the legitimate authority. When the said
states suffered decline, and the basis of legitimacy was eroded,
authority fell into the hands of the military.
Modern Sudan was created by the
It organized the Sudan Defense
Force to defend the country. After independence the S.D.F became the
armed forces for the independent Sudan.
Several factors have conspired to
erode constitutional legitimacy in the newly independent states.
This tempted adventurous civilian elements to use the armed forces
as a short cut to power, or the armed forces grabed power for
themselves. This type of coup making became pervasive in the third
world, especially in Latin America where over a thousand coups took
place since the second world war. In time, the countries of Latin
America realized that military government is harmful because: -
It erodes military cohesion and
Preoccupation with political
matters deprives the military from the needed continuous training
and up dating.
Military culture cannot be
reconciled with the flexibility required for political and
The experience of the military in
politics, in the third world ushered into three patterns: -
A political system under some type
of continuous military supervision, for example, Turkey.
The subordination of the military
to the elected civilian authority (in the pattern of the Western
experience) as in VENZUEELA and ARGENTINA.
To dispense with the military
institution altogether, for example, COSTA RICHA.
THE ARMED FORCES OF SUDAN
The British who organized the S.D.F
never intended it to be a National organization. The bulk of rank
and file of armed forces were drawn from the Western Sudan,
especially non-ANSAR tribes.
The officer class was drawn from
Northern tribes, especially KHATMYYA tribes. The regional commands
were recruited locally reflecting the regional ethnic composition.
Nevertheless, the armed forces of
Sudan aspired to be described as a National institution. However,
whatever creditability there was in that aspiration, was wiped out
by two factors:
Its involvement in a long drawn civil war, which polarized Sudanese
society and reflected that polarization on the armed forces.
The attempts of the May regime to polarize the armed forces in its
favor. Then followed the more systematic politicization of the NIF
On the other hand, all the
opposing political forces in the Sudan have formed military
organizations to stand up to oppression. Therefore, it is fair to
The armed forces of Sudan never
became fully national armed forces.
Although the majority of officers
were not coup minded, the officer class became infested with coup
making operations which rendered them vulnerable to political
The NIF regime further eroded the
National character of the armed forces.
Therefore, the composition of the
armed forces could reflect the multi-cultural reality of Sudanese
society, or alternatively, become a vehicle of compulsory
acculturation. Also it could support the democratic character of
government, or alternatively, become the number one threat to it.
The following principles are
necessary to ensure a balanced composition of the armed forces of
Sudan to ensure balanced cultural relations, and to protect
democracy from military predators:
establish and maintain highly trained armed forces, under a cohesive
and able command, but relying for expansion of its base on the
compulsory national military service to ensure the availability of a
supply of soldiers when necessary for the country’s defense.
of military expenditure to give priority to development.
discipline the armed forces to give allegiance to the democratic
system and to take their orders from the elected representatives of
isolation of the armed forces from the process of political
economic utilization of armed forces and organization of productive
and commercial activities for their benefit.
regulation of the functions of all the armed forces, especially, the
realization of cultural balance within the armed forces as a true
mirror of the Sudanese society.
dedication of the armed forces for the function of defense distant
from any policing activities.
the duties of internal security to the police and public
and external intelligence to be carried out by specialized
organizations that gather information without executive powers.
establishment of checks and balances to guard against military coups
These principles are part and
parcel of the package for sustainable human rights.
The huge geographical size of the
Sudan and its cultural diversity, make constitutional and
administrative decentralization imperative.
The ASMARA resolutions 1995 have
established a division of powers between the South and the center.
There is a need for a general system of decentralization for the
However, Sudan’s experience with
decentralization whatever the intentions on paper, has been
The main reason for that is the
fact that most revenue through customs goes to the central
government. Also, the existing productive capacity is not evenly
distributed. Consequently, the regional units have insufficient
revenue to finance the administration of their functions. Unless the
issue of regional finance, and regional economic activity is
resolved, the regional powers whatever they are called, regional,
federal; they will be theoretical powers.
The national constitutional
conference should decide the final number of regional units, the
constitutional name given to describe them, and the means to secure
their financial viability.
Sudan since independence joined the
UN and its specialized agencies, and several regional groupings.
There should be no problem for
Sudan’s national communities in most of that membership, should they
decide to continue with unity.
However, the following
organizations and tendencies are problematic: -
Arab league, and the conference of Islamic states are very loose
organizations that accommodate states which are more heterogeneous
than the Sudan. The Northern Sudanese mostly take membership in
these two organizations for granted. The Southern Sudanese mostly
question that membership. Therefore, their consent to continued
membership cannot be taken for granted. The question is do both
parties make the issue of make or break, or is some form of mutually
agreed accommodation possible? This matter should be tackled by the
national constitutional conference.
problem is that of AFRICANITY and NEGRITUDE. In the culture of
peace conference on the Sudan in BARCELONA in the mid-Nineties, the
following statistics were presented for the Sudan:
Whatever are the accurate figures
it is not disputable: That Moslems constitute the majority of the
Sudanese, and that Arabic is either the mother tongue or the lingua
Franca of the other groups. Whatever the actual position, it is
necessary to recognize the fact of plurality, that there will be no
compulsory acculturation, and that cultural identity will not give
any citizen any constitutional or legal advantage.
Northern Sudanese have developed their African consciousness only
Poets and writers elaborated it in
I am of Africa, its great
Charged by the energy of the
equatorial sun I am baked like a sacrificial offering in the flames
of a fire worshipper. I am as black as a bar of ebony.
SALAH AHMED IBRAHIM.
However, there are two expressions
of African consciousness. One is continental and dynamic. Africanity
espoused by most African leaders is pan – continental.
However, there is an ethnically
defined content for African consciousness: NEGRITUDE.
Which concept prevails in the Sudan
and in Africa at large would resonate on the issues of unity or
separation, and on the strength or weakness of Afro- Arab relations.
It is not a simple
matter because AFRICANISM, ARABISM, ISLAM, CHRISTIANITY, and
Western civilization- both Anglophone and FRANCOPHONE are inexorably
mixed. They form the “TRIPLE HERITAGE” in the words of professor ALI
MAZRUI. The statistical position provides further evidence of the
70% of the Arabs are Africans.
33% of sub- Saharan Africans are
The Arabic language is a component
of many pan-regional African languages, for example, SWAHILI, HAUSA,
SOMALI, and so on. It has kinship relations with AMHARIC and
TIGRINIA. The Moslem worldview is closer to the Christian worldview
than either to Africa born worldviews.
These facts argue for mutual
tolerance and accommodation not for surgical separation. The Sudan
could provide the example for that or, alternatively, the rationale
for surgical separation.
there are outside influences, which could encourage separation. The
Barcelona conference of 1995 contemplated a common Mediterranean
future. It included the Northern Sudan and excluded the South from
its vision. President Muiseveni in his 1998 address to NLM
Conference presented a vision of a BANTUNILOTIC identity, which
extended from the Southern Sudan to South Africa. These visions
could be encouraged by clash of civilization concepts and, in turn,
encourage separatist tendencies in the Sudan.
Sudan, in case of a successful new
attempt at unity could be the link, which should form a nexus
between the Mediterranean common future and the sub-Saharan entity.
The opposite is also true. There is much more at stake in
developments in Sudan than what concerns it alone.
Self-determination is an integral
part of universal Human rights. To uphold international stability,
entitlement to it had to be limited to nations or viable cultural
entities, which may form viable political entities.
For a long time after the second
world war, national borders have frozen according to the
arrangements, which were made after the war. The cold war ensured
the continuation of those arrangements in most parts of the world.
The right of self-determination
justified the struggle of the African peoples to gain independent
statehood. The O. A. U. charter 1963 explicitly legitimized the
borders of the African successor states as handed down from colonial
Although some movements resented
this, the doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Nation-State sanctified
the status quo. Those who didn’t
comply took up arms and resisted.
Developments after the end of the
cold war 1991 opened the road to reconsideration. Czechoslovakia,
and Ethiopia, broke into two successor states through a process of
self-determination. Quebec exercised self-determination, and decided
to remain part of Canada.
At the independence of Sudan 1956,
and after, the majority of Southern opinion favored Federation.
Far from any such development, the
1958 coup d’etat
deprived the peoples of the Sudan, including the Southerners, of the
civil and political rights which the democratic constitution
guaranteed, the civil war started in 1963 and continued for a
decade, and in 1972 the South settled for regional self-government.
The May regime of NIMEIRI did not entertain a genuine devolution of
power. Resistance to it was started by ANYANYA-II, which aimed at
separation, and later the resistance stage was dominated by the
SPLM/A. It crushed the ANYANYA-II and substituted its national
Before 1989, there was no mention
of self-determination. The SPLM/A had agreed with the democratic
government on a peace process culminating in a National
Constitutional Conference, to be held on 18th September
Self-determination and separation
was not on the agenda.
The NIF regime in Khartoum espoused
a very narrow ideological program. By 1993, all Southern Sudanese
opinion called for self-determination. Inside the Sudan, the Union
of Sudanese African Parties (USAP) made that clear to us: their UMMA
allies. Then the Washington Declaration lined SPLM/A, its breakaway
parties, USAP in exile, and several Southern-leading personalities,
behind a call for self-determination for the South- November 1993.
Towards the end of 1993, the UMMA
PARTY publicly endorsed self-determination for the South. The
repulsive policies of the NIF Regime made the call for
self-determination an inevitable response. In June 1995, all the NDA
member organizations endorsed self-determination. In 1996, the NIF
regime accepted it as part of its terms for peace. So, apparently
all Sudanese political forces have endorsed self-determination.
is home to much cultural plurality. However, the North/South
cultural divide is especially deep, multi-faceted and conspicuous.
JUBA conference of 1947 could be faulted on many aspects. It
resolved that the South as well as the North should develop as an
integral united political entity. Southern political opinion in the
conference was unprepared and underrepresented. As Southern
political opinion developed much later, it may reasonably dispute
the authenticity of the resolutions of the 1947 JUBA conference.
terms which Southern political opinion exacted for their status in a
united Sudan after independence, i. e, federation, were left in
suspense due to the abortion of the constitution making process by
the 1958 coup d’etat.
long drawn civil war, the sacrifices, the bloodshed, and the
calamitous wounds of war have created bitterness and polarization.
Above all, some parts of the Sudan, particularly in the South are de
facto separated from the central authority in Khartoum. In many
ways, separation has already taken place. The real issue in Sudan to
day is whether to legalize it or to seek to undo it through the
process of self-determination?
There are two Scenarios for
self-determination. They are:
Self-determination under the policies and practices of the present
regime, i. e, a Sudan governed by a quasi- theocratic constitution,
administered by a partisan ISLAMICIST party which has monopolized
control of the civil and armed forces, control of the economy, and
which is in axis relations with the ISLAMICIST international
net-work, would inevitably confirm separation.
The relationship of the Southern
independent state with the Sudanese NIF dominated state will not be
better than the present relations between the NIF dominated Sudan
and its neighbors. It will be far worse. The NIF dominated Khartoum
regime has already encouraged personal, tribal, ethnic, and
religious differences within the South to a great extent. Therefore,
self-determination now is a recipe for disaster. It will lead to
consolidation of separation, hostility, and continuation of war or
wars by other labels. Some short sighted Northerners, even cherish
this prospect as directing Southern hostility against each other and
away from the North!
Self-determination under the terms envisaged by the NDA ASMARA
resolutions 1995. This requires the formation of transition national
government in which all the NDA parties including the SPLM/A will be
represented. The transition government will carry out a radical
reform program, which addresses, and hopefully resolves, all the
past grievances in a systematic way.
This scenario will give vote for
unity its best chances, and if the vote goes for separation, then it
gives good neighborly relations between the two successor states the
THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE
The constitutional conference
envisaged by the ASMARA SCENARIO will consider and resolve the
specific choices to be offered in the self-determination referendum.
It will specify the mechanism to ensure that that the referendum is
free and fair. It will also specify the basic elements of the
democratic citizen rights basis on which the future constitution
will be based.
Although certain aspects of the
future constitution must be resolved and agreed before the
referendum because they influence the choices to be made by the
voters, the final constitution can only be drafted after the
referendum results are known.
So far, self -determination is
discussed in terms of the Southern Sudan as defined by colonial
boundaries 1956. There are some territories, which fall North of the
North/South boundary, and sections of their population have joined
the SPLM/A and identified with its aims. These territories are the
Nuba Mountains in Southern KORDUFAN, the ABYEI area in South Western
KORDUFAN, and INGASANA hills in Southern Blue Nile. The sections of
the population in these areas, which joined the SPLM/A, expect to be
entitled to self-determination. This expectation should be
considered in the light of the following facts:
territories concerned: the Nuba Mountains, the INGASANA mountains,
and ABYEI are not viable for statehood. Therefore,
self-determination for them can only mean joining with the North or
the South, or deciding upon the degree of decentralization they
the Nuba Mountains, the ethnic Nuba is not the majority. The Arab
tribes, and the Arabicized tribes, who cohabit with them the Nuba
Mountains, constitute the majority. So unless an ethnic cleansing
policy drives the Arabs and the Arabicized tribes (BARNU, BARGU,
FALATA, SLIHAB, and DAGU) even if all the ethnic NUBA vote for
joining the South, the resulting situation will be a Northern ISLAND
syndrome. The ethnics NUBA themselves are divided about were to
INGASANA are clearly a minority in Southern Blue Nile, being
outnumbered by the FUNG and the BARNþU and the FALATA. The total
number of the ethnic INGASANA is somewhere between 100,000 to
ABYEI enclave is inhabited, predominantly, by ethnic DINKA, but the
enclave itself as a territory is claimed by the MISERIA cow owning
Arab tribe. The claims and counter claims can not be settled by any
objective criteria acceptable to both sides, they cannot be settled
by force. The only viable position is to negotiate a settlement.
are Arab tribe settlements and seasonal interests South of boundary.
They may claim the right to self- determination to decide where to
join? The Arab settlements and interests have been recognized by all
administrations, and there are traditionally recognized tribal
boundaries, which differ from the administrative boundaries.
ASMARA resolutions –which I participated in and endorsed- have
addressed some of these problems in a general way. A specific
comprehensive policy should be considered and agreed in the National
However, the following
principles from a Human Rights perspective, must be respected:
voice of the inhabitants of these territories North and South of the
North/ South boundary has got to be democratically heard.
is no question of ethnic cleansing, the demographic situation in the
country has got to be accepted as it is. Even the resettlement of
the displaced people has got to be voluntary.
happens to the North / South relationship, the previously closed
districts, and the marginalized areas warrant special treatment to
achieve stability in terms of sustainable Human Rights.
political forces entitled to sit in the Constitutional Conference,
are those forces which have been elected to the 1986 Constituent
Assembly, plus those political forces thrown up by military
States, Egypt, Sudan’s other neighbors, plus the IGAD partners,
should have observer status to the conference.