Salva Kiir South Sudanese president asked the contested border district of Abyei groups not to explode the time bomb set by Omar Bashir the genocidal slave master of the South.
Over 40 died in Abyie earlier this month, trying to defuse the time bomb and to decide whether it stays with their master north or joins the free south.
Kiiris is deploying his best trying to calm Abyie in one said and satisfy his once enemy Bashir. Let us hear it from his words: “But I would ask the people of Abyie not to take any unilateral decision to join the south and to give me a chance to find a peaceful settlement with my brother President Omar al-Bashir».
It has been highly explosive between the rival southern-backed Danka Ngok people and northern-supported Misseriya Arab cattle and slave herders. This is where the time bomb is not yet diffused between north and south.
The independence vote of the south was the 2005 centerpiece of peace deal between the Arabic Muslim North and southern Christian Animist /African rebels that ended a 22 year civil war.
Southern Sudan Referendum Commission website showed on Monday 25 January more than 98.8 percent voted to break away in the January 9-15 referendum and become the world’s newest nation.
Kiir is trying to keep peaceful tone by praising Bashir’s “noble stand to respect the outcome of the referendum and to support the emerging new state in the case of secession.”
Preparations must now focus on the period ahead, Kiir said, speaking at the opening session of the south’s parliament, at which he urged lawmakers to “pass and adopt the transitional constitution which will become the foundation of the new order.”
“While we are waiting for the final outcome of the polls, the referendum task force is now left with two key tasks,” Kiir said.
“We have to work out a transition constitution, and preparing the government of southern Sudan for the period after the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, at past midnight, July 8, 2011.”
The challenges ahead will be tough, Kiir said. “There is no easy walk to freedom,” Kiir added, citing former South African president Nelson Mandela as an “inspiration for liberation.”
As well as Abyie, Kiir said negotiations were continuing on the future sharing of Sudan’s oil wealth — which lies mainly in the south but with pipelines only running north — as well as issues such as debt, and citizenship, and the demarcation of the north-south border.
“The newest nation in the world is being born — for every newly born baby, there are always challenges associated with birth,” said the southern parliament’s speaker, James Wani Igga.
“We must have the right constitution to address the challenges, which is a long list.”
Excitement is rising in the south at the prospect of independence. “We assure all of you, the promised land is only some meters away, no longer kilometers,” said Igga.
But Kiir urged patience with the referendum’s final results not expected until mid-February.
“In your excitement, you should not cause misery to yourselves and others,” he added, saying the rights of northerners in the south must be respected.
He called for “no celebratory gunfire” on the day of announcement. “The last bullet of the long struggle has been released in the casting of the ballot, and we now have to wait patiently to see whether the bullet has hit the target or not,” Kiir said.
Thus 99 percent of Southern Sudanese voted in favor of secession according to the first officially published by the vote’s organizing commission
These results were the latest indication of a landslide vote for southern independence from slavery in last week’s referendum, promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war. The final official figures are expected in February if the fire of Abyie did not burn the rest.
The website for the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission showed a 98.6 percent vote for secession, with more than 80 percent of the votes from the south counted, and 100 percent counted in other areas.
As promised Omar Beshir, the master of Sudan’s complication exploded expressly on the day of the election his time bomb Abyie the oil rich northern part of Southern Sudan. At least 23 people have been killed in ongoing clashes around the disputed region, an oil-rich area that the British transferred to Sudan in 1905. The 2005 peace agreement called for people in Abyie to vote this week on whether to remain part of the north or return to the south, but that vote has been delayed. In the coming 6 months many bombs of Beshir must be a lot of Deming to be done by the international community before the South to be truly Independence- oil wealth share, boarder demarcations, Abyie , LRA infiltrations, Omar Beshir’s arming minority tribesmen in the south …
Clashes have happened for four days between members of the Ngok Dinka ethnic group, which tend to have more in common with the south, and the Misseriya, a nomadic Arabic tribe that comes in and out of the Abyie region and whose sympathies would most likely tilt toward the northern government.
The death toll was at least 23. Thirteen were Misseriya, according to hospital officials in nearby Muglad. Ten were reported dead in Abyie, said John Ajang, secretary general of the Abyie government.
“Clashes have now entered their fourth day between the Abyie government forces and armed militias,” Ajang said. “We do not believe that these are mere Misseriya tribesman; we believe that these are Sudanese government-supported militias.”
Ajang said witnesses described heavy weaponry inconsistent with the automatic weaponry seen carried by Misseriya tribesmen in the past.
“We believe this is an attempt by the Sudanese government to take Abyie while the governments of south Sudan forces are busy with the referendum,” Ajang said.
The 4th day conflict in Abyie is putting at stake the seven-day referendum is the separation of Africa’s largest state into two sovereign states. The divisions between the Muslim and Arab-dominated government in the north and the Christian and African tribal populations of the south have been festering since end of colonial rule in 1956. In 1983, those tensions erupted into a 20-year civil war that killed 2.5 million people. As North and South negotiated a peace treaty that would be signed in 2005, Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, began genocide against Muslims in Darfur, a western province of Sudan; he has since been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his crimes there.
The negotiated comprehensive peace agreement of 2005 and set Jan. 9, 2011, as the date of a Southern Sudan referendum to decide the fate of the two-state solution was supposed to include Abyie, but due to the complication created by the genocidal Omar Beshir it has been delayed and conflict just flared.
As this hopeful and historic day unfolded, and counter to most official expectations, the south resisted provocations in the early going–only to see the initial triumph tested by reports of violent clashes in Abyie.
It is a moment of unaccustomed celebration in a trash and rubble covered with red dust under a broad blue sky. But the spirit of the Southern Sudanese people is a mix of jubilation and determination, as they anticipate deliverance in the birth of the world’s newest nation. But Omar’s time bomb in Abyie the Misseriya and the LRA (Lord’s resistance Army of Uganda) already started taking victims. The later recently kidnapped two girls.
In Juba Crowds started to gather outside polling stations in at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. Barring massive fraud, there is little doubt the south will vote overwhelmingly for secession—the betting at local bars is on whether the vote in favor will be over or under 95 percent. Omar Beshir is working to hard with his gents that the threshold 60 percent of the 3.9 million registered South Sudanese voters participated in the referendum not to pass, so the South will stay under his genocidal shadow of slavery.
Street signs and billboards imprinted with the words “Vote Wisely.” It is difficult to find any Southerner who wants to remain part of the existing Sudanese state under Sharia law. But those living under the shadow Beshir as middle man working for him reject the referendum. This is surprising, considering the 55 years of struggle and 2.5 million lives that have been lost fighting for independence.
Over estimated 40,000 refugees known locally as “Returnees” have flooded the south over the past three months to participate in the referendum and build a new life in their new nation was an additional shock to Omar Bashir.
Three months ago, Bashir made the world to believe that the voting would have to be pushed back or delayed indefinitely. International attention had shifted away from Sudan in the aftermath of the peace accords, and “Save Darfur” started to sound like a dusty bumper sticker from 2005. With decreased attention came increased tension between the north and the south. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Sudan was “a ticking time bomb,” while then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair declared that “a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in Southern Sudan.”But renewed focus on Sudan from the Obama administration, including the appointment of Senator John Kerry as a special negotiator, helped turn the tide.
October 2009, China surprised observers by announcing that it would support the outcome of the voting, making it more difficult for the north to suppress the south without displeasing its largest investor.
On this first day of referendum voting, there were, however, two conflicts exploding the time bomb of Bashir. They occurred in the provinces of Unity State and Abyie in the 48 hours before people went to the polls in order to scare them away. Specifics are slow to travel in Sudan, and even local government officials seemed short on detailed information, but unconfirmed reports from the regions indicate that four people were murdered in Unity State and as many as 30 in Abyie.
Reports of the violence have thus far failed to dampen the hopeful tone of Sunday’s voting. But serious hurdles await the fledgling state. A new government will need to be formed, and official independence will not be granted until July 9. This gives the north at least six months to disrupt the transition and derail the secession after the international camera crews depart. And it’s anybody’s guess whether Monday’s clashes portend the coming greater bomb by Omar Bashir.
While President Bashir has earned a reputation as an untrustworthy negotiator, he has said repeatedly that he will accept the results of the referendum. Nonetheless, a contentious issue remains in the fate of the still-contested border state of Abyie. The tribal leaders made it clear that their people’s allegiance is with the south, though they are legally barred from participating in the referendum. Their frustration could result in a popular declaration of affiliation with the south at any time, which could in turn provoke an attack. Tribal proxy wars have proved a devastatingly effective tactic for the north in the past, with the town of Abyie entirely destroyed as recently as 2008.
“If the north thinks they could do something and get away with it without dramatic serious implications, they are making the biggest mistake of a lifetime,” Senator Kerry official observer of the Referendum.
Southern Sudan Anti Slavery Referendum faces resistance by AU dictators by Prof. Muse Tegegne The 2005 Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreementt (CPA) ignited the long awaited vision to self-determination in the Greater Horn of Africa subgegated and colonially divided people of Africa. CPA is hope and victory against slavery and religious extremism in Africa. The southerners have been victims of an abolished slavery in 21 first century. They merit to determine their future in their own hands. They are not fighting for self determination only but also for the eradication of slavery from the last bastion of the institution in Sudan.
“Sudan is the only place where chattel slavery is not just surviving but experiencing a great revival. This renascence of the slave trade began in the mid-1980s and resulted directly from an upsurge of Islamism in Sudan at that time, and especially from the Islamist emphasis on the renewal of jihad. After gaining the upper-hand inKhartoum by about 1983, the Islamists’ immediate goal was to transform the multi-ethnic, multi-religious population of Sudan into an Arab-dominated Muslim state, and to do so through jihad. Under Turabi‘s powerful influence, the ruler of the time, Ja‘far an-Numayri, declared himself to be (sounding like a caliph of old), the “rightly guided” leader of an Islamic state.”
As Kampala hosts the African Union (AU) summit the question remains: Is Africa neutral with regard to the unity of the Sudan? AU chairman Jean Ping put it clearly during Africa Day last May, with due respect to the outcome of the coming referendum, that AU favours ‘making unity attractive,’ and cautioned against possible southern Sudan independence in 2011.
CPA weakened many dictators who are submitted to the international justice led by the International Criminal Court (ICC) through some international pressures by organiztions line Genocide Watch giving hope to regions of post colonial countries of scrambled continent a hope of self-determination though referendum.
International pressures took place in some channels after the ICCIndictment and the issuing of the arrest warrants against Omar al Bashir, the leader of the dictatorial regime in Sudan and some gangs in the Darfur Rebels who committed war crimes in the western region of Darfur. Soon Ethiopian and another dictators will follow having regions fighting and claiming self determination. Somaliland would be the next candidate for international recognition to put a silver lining to find a lasting solution of Somalia.
The AU believed that the southern secession would set a dangerous precedent for Africa. This position was expressed by many African leaders, particularly by Idris Deby of Chad and Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea after assuring his own independence in 1991. The Group of African Ambassadors at the United Nations held a meeting last month at the AU mission in New York, in the presence of the panel’s chairman, Thabo Mbeki, and called upon the Sudanese people to benefit from the historic experiments and dedicate efforts to bolstering unity through a strong support from Africa.
The Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement consists of the Machakos Protocol, the Power Sharing, the Wealth Sharing, the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict, the Resolution of the Conflict in the two States of Southern Kurdufan and Blue Nile, the Security Arrangements, the Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements Implementation Modalities and Appendices, and the Implementation Modalities and Global Implementation Matrix and Appendices.
CPA will voile for the first time the historical position which is is not in any way circumstantial but and in retrospect, a rather a systematic and principled position that streamlines and concords with that of the founding fathers of OAU, for whom the inviolability of states boundaries remained an article of faith. This was manifestly reflected in their firm rejection of almost all secessions bids in Africa in Nigeria, Congo, Somalia or elsewhere.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) and Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, First Vice President of the Republic of Sudan.
Slave girl and boys
Many African leaders on behalf of the Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD) witnessed it with other representatives of the regional authority. The other witnesses from the area included representative of the League of Arab States and the Chairman of the African Union and the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Au leaders had accepted in 1964 though mindful of the artificial frontiers drawn by imperialist powers, meant to divide the peoples of Africa, our founding fathers were keen to deny the colonialists a chance to reap any fruit for their divide and conquer policy; by denying secessionists legitimacy.
However, if secession is to prevail, and the post-referendum negotiations have started, let us concur on appropriate benchmarks and measures that would guarantee a peaceful transition. At the same time, try to draw a roadmap for an understanding that would pave the way for a near future reunification.
Representatives from the international political powers included the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Special Envoy of the Netherlands, the Norwegian Minister of International Development, the British Secretary of State for International Development, the United States Secretary of State, the Representative of the European Union.
Paradoxically, Malik Agar, the deputy chairman of the SPLM and the governor of the Blue Nile State, was fiercely attacked and incriminated recently for being true to the CPA, calling for the unity of the Sudan. Indeed there is widely held concern that secession shall make the south more susceptible to yet more violence or even further secessions. Relations between and within communities and regions in the south remained strained by competition for natural resources such as water, grazing land as well as by cattle raiding, local power rivalries and disputes.
Southern Independence is not what the Khartoum government is definitely aspires for. The government, while dauntlessly launching a massive campaign for unity of the Sudan, affirms now and again that the decision of the southern Sudanese people will be respected regardless of the outcome of the 2011 referendum. Simply applying cost-benefit analysis in the current circumstances indicates that unity remains at its worst scenario a lesser evil. Sudanese unity is not beyond repair; let us agree on new viable institutional formula that may keep unity intact for the sake of Sudan and Africa at large.
Omar al-Bashir, fresh off press crackdown in Sudan, defies ICC in visit to Chad
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir today flew to Chad on his first visit to a full member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since his arrest warrant was issued. He left amid a severe crackdown on press freedoms at home.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (r.) shakes hands with First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit as he prepares to leave for Chad, in Khartoum July 21. Chad said on Wednesday it would not arrest al-Bashir who arrived in the country for his first visit to a full member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since his arrest warrant was issued. Mohamed Nureldin Abdallh/Reuters
Buoyed by a win in the disputed Sudan election in April, President Omar Al Bashir continues to thumb his nose to critics at home and abroad, jailing journalists and challenging an arrest warrant for war crimes and genocide.
Mr. Bashir today flew to neighboring Chad on his first visit to a state member of the International Criminal Court since he was indicted in March 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC ruled July 12 that Bashir is now also wanted on genocide charges. The ICC has requested that any member, including Chad, arrest Bashir upon arrival in the country.
His controversial visit comes a week after his government handed prison sentences to three Sudanese journalists for writing articles that suggested Bashir lacks popular support and that a Sudanese factory is making weapons for Iran and Hamas.
The prison terms, which range from two to five years, are the latest development in a crackdown on local media that began after Sudan’s national elections.
The crackdown is a stark turnaround from Bashir’s decision in September 2009 to lift the government’s pre-publication censorship of newspapers. The decree was a small concession to Western pressure to create free and fair conditions for Sudan’s first democratic election in 24 years.
But Bashir’s victory in the April polls, after most major opposition parties boycotted the vote, gave his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) almost total control over the institutions of the state, and the new government rapidly moved to shut down several newspapers.
On July 6, the government resumed pre-publication censorship across the board, limiting freedom of expression beyond what it was before the pre-election period.
The three recently jailed journalists all worked for Rai al-Shaab, a newspaper of the opposition People’s Congress Party (PCP). Two weeks after Bashir’s election, the government’s ubiquitous internal security agents arrived at the newspaper’s office in Khartoum, arrested four journalists, and shut down the paper. The next day they arrested PCP leader Hassan al Turabi, who was imprisoned for 45 days before being released without charge.
Mr. Turabi says he was surprised by the government’s actions. “I thought they would want to appear democratic for a while – at least to put on a show for the West,” he says.
A few days later, pre-publication censorship resumed on three other papers. As the squeeze on opposition voices tightened, it became clear that the ruling regime had no concern about keeping up appearances.
“Immediately since they came back to power, they believe they cannot be touched,” says Salih Mahmoud Osman, a human rights lawyer and member of the Sudanese Communist Party. Mr. Osman believes that the international community’s acceptance of the election results, despite the admission that they were flawed, has emboldened the regime.
Operating under adversity
Other newspapers have been given a choice to either remove sensitive content or cease publication.
The computer room of the Sudanese Communist Party’s Al Midan newspaper is a veritable hive of activity for a paper out of circulation for more than a month. On June 6, security agents demanded the right to censor Al Midan’s work before they sent it to the printing press. Al Midan’s editor refused, citing the freedom of expression guarantees in Sudan’s internationally sponsored Interim Constitution.
But with security agents stationed at the printing press, he could not get his paper published. Since then, Al Midan journalists have continued to come up with a paper three times a week. Each time, they send it to the printing press, and each time it gets sent back. But they are finding other ways to get their message out.
Using a dusty old printer, the Al Midan staff produce 15 black-and-white copies, which they staple together and distribute to civil society groups in the area. And they are also managing to publish on the web. While the government sometimes blocks their website, journalist Mohamed Al Fadih says that the government’s web censorship is “not very sophisticated.” There is a bigger constraint looming, however. With no actual paper to sell, there is no money for staff salaries.
The latest wave of censorship also targets newspapers that are not affiliated to a political party.
“It’s really very serious. We don’t know when they will close us down,” says Alfred Taban, editor of the Khartoum Monitor, which was also placed under pre-publication censorship this month.
With 50 staff to pay, Mr. Taban has not accepted the effective ban that would result if he refused the censors. So each night, at about 8 p.m., security agents come to the Khartoum Monitor office, demanding to see the next day’s copy and removing whatever they don’t like. Mostly the journalists scramble to replace the prohibited articles with less sensitive material or with photographs.
Some nights, the need for a small act of defiance wins out, and the journalists leave half a page empty, “to show our readers we are under censorship,” Taban says.
All in the name of unity
Before the elections, journalists say that the government’s main “red lines” were the publication of articles on the International Criminal Court’s case against the Sudanese president, and on the conflict in Darfur. Now though, the government has a bigger concern – the unity of the Sudanese state.
In January next year, the people of southern Sudan will have a referendum on whether they want to become an independent nation. The right to self-determination was granted to southerners in a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the NCP and the main southern political party, the SPLM. In theory, both parties were supposed to spend the six years until the referendum making unity an attractive option. In practice, neither have done so, and there is a widespread belief that next year’s vote will see Sudan split in two.
Mariam Sadiq Al Mahdi, spokesperson for the opposition Umma Party, says the NCP cannot afford secession for two reasons. The first is the ensuing loss of resource-rich southern land. “The government budget is more than 60 percent dependent on oil, mainly from the south,” she says.
Second would be the historical stigma on Bashir’s government: “They took over a unified country and then it was divided under their rule.” At the eleventh hour, the NCP is trying desperately shift course – less by actually making unity attractive to southerners, and more by repressing anyone who speaks of secession.
Ministry of Information advisor Rabie Abdul Atti says that it was journalists who forced the government to resume pre-publication censorship, by writing articles in favor of secession. With just six months until the referendum, what matters now is unity.
“Secessionist views,” he says, “are against the Constitution … the government will not allow anyone to act against the constitution, or make trouble for the Sudan.”
According to Dr. Atti, articles about the ICC or Darfur are no longer a serious concern for the government. Apparently, it’s also of no concern to ICC member state Chad. The mayor of the capital, N’djamena, presented Bashir with a key to the city upon his arrival today.
This article was supported by funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.