Sudan referendum law endorsed in cabinet, 51% ‘Yes’ vote & 60% turnout required
Monday 14 December 2009 03:35. Printer-Friendly version Comments… December 13, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese cabinet today headed by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir unanimously approved in its extraordinary meeting Sunday evening the draft bill of the Act on Referendum in South Sudan, the Act on Referendum in Abyei and the Act of People’s Consultation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) secretary general Pagan Amum (R) and Nafie Ali Nafie, presidential advisor and member of the northern ruling National Congress Party, address a news conference in the capital Khartoum December 13, 2009 (Reuters) Sudan official news agency (SUNA) said that the law package will be tabled Monday before the National Assembly for ratification. The development followed announcement by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the NCP that they have reached an agreement on a number of disputed issues after days of marathonic talks between senior figures on both sides. “We announce an agreement between the two partners on all points, which had been a source of disagreement on the referendum law in south Sudan,” said Nafie Ali Nafie, deputy head of Khartoum’s NCP. The two parties also agreed to “look into the national security and intelligence law in order to reach an agreement,” Nafie said, without elaborating. Under the referendum deal struck, a 60% turnout of registered voters and a 51% yes vote will declare the independence of South Sudan valid. Initially the NCP wanted between 75%-90% yes vote and a two thirds turnout arguing that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) says that the secession choice should be made difficult. The full details of the agreement will be announced after consultation with all political forces in Sudan, Amum said, adding that the SPLM MP’s who have boycotted parliament for over a month would start attending sessions “within 24 hours”. The SPLM and a coalition of Northern opposition parties have attempted to stage a demonstration last Monday that was curbed by Sudanese authorities leading to the arrest of senior SPLM figures. The agreement throws into doubt the fate of another demonstration planned for tomorrow by the same political parties which was made for the purpose of protesting the failure to agree on a package of democratic reforms bills ahead of next April’s elections and on a procedural law for the south’s referendum scheduled for January 2011. Ibrahim Ghandour, a senior figure in the NCP, warned the SPLM that any attempt to stage a demonstration on Monday will nullify the agreements that were made. He added that the agreement stipulated that the SPLM will not be part of any protest as long as the outstanding issues have been resolved. An unidentified SPLM official told the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that they “got what they wanted” adding that the protests plans will be likely be suspended. On Friday the NCP warned that they are prepared to go to war if all fails with SPLM. “We have offered 40,000 martyrs and are prepared to offer 100,000 martyrs,” Nafi said at a rally in the Sudanese capital. ———————- ——————-
SPLM official slams use of tear gas against demonstrators
Tuesday 15 December 2009 03:30. Printer-Friendly version Comments… December 14, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Khartoum state minister Mayen Dut who participated in the opposition led demonstration today strongly condemned use of tear gas to disperse peaceful demonstration in the national capital Khartoum today. SPLM supporters take part in a pro-democracy rally in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on Monday Dec 14, 2009 (AFP) The use of tear gas to disperse non violent demonstration is unconstitutional, brutal and indeed an act that violates not only provisions of constitution as supreme law of the country but, portrays government intentions to cling to authoritarian kind of leadership, Mayen said. “Where in the world can a responsible and law abiding government use chemicals and other concentrated gases to disassemble peaceful march,” he posed. The official who represents SPLM as minister of local government in Khartoum State government added that police showed lack of respect by beating individual indiscriminately even bystanders. They did not bother to ask, they thought anybody either passing or standing was a protester, he said. Asked why he took part in the demonstration as SPLM already reached an agreement with the National Congress Party (NCP) on southern referendum on Sunday 13, he said “first and foremost he did not take part in the demonstration as southerner but as a Sudanese and SPLM official because SPLM is not a regional party.” He further said he took part in the demonstration because the agreement does not stop SPLM from demanding settlement to security act and democratic reform laws adding “these are crucial elements in the forthcoming elections as required by the peace deal.” Today’s protest was organized by Sudanese opposition parties and the SPLM. Opposition Umma leading member Miriam Al-Mahdi said Sudanese police briefly detained over 100 protesters for five hours. Mariam was among the detained people. Security situation remains tense as there was a heavy presence of security personnel in the capital while all streets leading to the parliament building where the demonstration was planned were closed The Sudanese police was deployed in the capital and all the premises of the opposition parties, including the SPLM headquarters, were surrounded by the well equipped security forces. The Sudanese Human Rights Organisation condemned today the use of prohibited tear gas by the police. (ST) ———————– ————-
– SPLM and opposition planned demonstration
Sunday 6 December 2009 05:30. Printer-Friendly version Comments… By Justin Ambago Ramba December 5, 2009 — Judging by the turn of events, it is clear that the Sudanese politics has no doubt entered its crucial stages. While the peace agreement between the north and the south still holds, it is no longer true to continue to hold any one of the peace partners responsible for the present chaos without the other. However as it stands right now whatsoever camp you stand in, you just have to shift your mind to the evolving tripartite negations that is about to replace the current bilateral talks between the National Congress Party (NCP) of the fugitive president al Bashir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who are both beginning to doubt the very comprehensiveness of the agreement they signed 5 years ago. It is true that the implementation of the CPA wasn’t taken seriously and so much as the NIF/NCP is the only northern political party in the Sudan to ever come this far in addressing the Sudanese problem which has its root cause in the chronic marginalization policies adopted by the successive governments that alternated in Khartoum, but unfortunately due to its intrinsic evilness, it was the first to start relegating the whole peace settlement. The NCP is no longer a credible party to make sound and binding decisions in the Sudan after the kind of showdown that it continues to experience in the world arena over the Darfur crisis, culminating in the indictment of its leader, the incumbent Sudanese president Omer al Bashir, now wanted by the internal Criminal Court for his roles in the crimes committed there. The indictment of President Al Bashir was a missed opportunity that was not well exploited by the leading political party in southern Sudan, the SPLM. Had the SPLM played its cards wisely by diversifying the way it did business with the NIF/NCP, they would have walked away with more gains from a system that was too ready to make consensus as it was shook down its toes, when the ICC prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo was tying his noose on the Sudanese president. Anyway all those are now history and the latest evidence shows beyond doubt that any bilateral talks between the CPA partners are doomed to fail since the SPLM is now in the lead of the political forces that are working to change the present regime though of course officially it remains the second biggest partner in the so-called government of unity (GoNU). As a proof that it is all over between the two, the SPLM with the support of the other Sudanese opposition parties have planned to carry out a rally, which is meant to be “a peaceful demonstration” in the Sudanese capital city Khartoum, and they intend to march to the national parliament building in Omdurman and present their protest to the speaker of the parliament demanding the adoption of the laws related to democratic transition which are embodied in the National Security Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, the Trade Unions Act, the law of immunities, the law of personal status, press and publications law, the laws of public order as a condition for taking part in the coming elections. Otherwise…………………… Of course before even going any further in this, it is necessary to shade light on the position of the dominant NCP to which the Speaker belongs. And as should be expected, any moves by the SPLM following the Juba Conference remain to be very disturbing to the NCP and views it with much scepticism. And though the SPLM’s initial motives might have been to pressurize the NCP into living to the spirit and letters of the CPA and implementing the agreement in its timely manner without the current foot dragging, only that sooner than expected it (SPLM) has found itself working side by side with the Sudanese opposition in a broad policy of regime change, something naturally disturbing to the NCP. But as the date for the peaceful demonstrations closes in, the SPLM and the Opposition supporters are going to be faced with the fact that the very laws that they are about to demonstrate against are still in action, and accordingly for the demonstration to go ahead they need to get an approval from the security organs………..which is controlled by the NCP. This would be the first time since the NIC/NCP came to power to allow such an opposition move should the SPLM and the opposition take to the streets to protest the NCP’s foot dragging over the CPA implementation, reviewing of the census results and the contested undemocratic laws. However all depends on whether the Sudanese Security organs will approve the demonstrations or not and this will be the first test for this newly forged alliance in confronting the NCP. The second important issue to consider would be how peaceful the so-called peaceful demonstration would turn out to be in an atmosphere loaded with much popular resentments due to the prevailing soar prices of basic essential commodities like sugar, bread and sorghum (Dura ……the Sudanese staple food) . It can not also be ignored that the voter’s registration process as reported by the local and the international observers, have been much flowed, adding yet another discontent. Now putting all these together with the new dissident group that calls itself “We are Disgusted”, which emerged in Khartoum during the registration process, things can easily be pushed off limits. While on the other hand, the security organs on their side are much concerned about protecting the regime, especially so after the indictment of president Omer al Bashir by the ICC which means that the slightest match stroke can send the whole country ablaze. However as I have already stated somewhere else in this article, the coming few days would real mark one of the most crucial moments in every concerned Sudanese’s’ life, as we are to face yet an exceptional test in as to how much the Sudan is prepared to embrace democracy. But should things be allowed to slip into a purely partisan political confrontation, a thing more likely to happen, and then the legacy it might leave may remain to be recalled with much bitter memories throughout our coming history. Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MB, BCh, DRH, MD. Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org ————- ————
FLASHPOINT FOR CONFLICT
Slavery in the Sahel region of Africa is hundreds of years old, and Sudan was a very active participant in the slave trade until early this century. The south-western region of Bahr al-Ghazal was one of the most prominent centres of slave trading on the African continent in the late 19th century.
South-western Sudan, on the border with the Central African Republic, is divided by the Bahr-al-Arab and Bahr-al-Ghazal rivers into two zones. With followers of Islam in the north and of Christianity and traditional religions in the south, it is a microcosm of the way the country itself is divided. It has long been a flashpoint for conflicts, often spurred by competition for resources, and compounded by racial, religious and cultural differences.
For centuries northern Sudanese and Turco-Egyptian traders raided along the Nile, deep into Upper Nile, Equatoria and into the vast lands of Bahr al-Ghazal. Here African villagers were caught, beaten and roped together. Then they were walked and shipped great distances to be sold on as domestic servants, farm hands or concubines, in Northern Sudan, neighbouring countries like Egypt and Libya, or across the Red Sea.Top
Raiding and hostage-taking, slave-like conditions and child trafficking among rival Sudanese tribes existed before the arrival of invaders from the north. From the niid-1800s, however, foreign traders encouraged hostile tribal groups to raid each other for booty including ivory and slaves. The Baggara, Muslim cattle-herders who regard them- selves as Arabs, penetrated south into Bahr al-Ghazal, the land of the Dinka and other African, non-Arabised tribes.Top
RISE OF THE JALLABA
In the early 19th century, the “Jallaba”, a group of northern Muslirn traders mostly from the Ja’aliyyin and Danagla tribes of the Nile valley, came in increasing numbers to southern Sudan, especially northern Bahr al-Ghazal, which became an important source of slaves. The Jallaba made their fortunes in the slave trade, although some also worked as boatmen and soldiers. They sent the slaves overland to markets in the north, and kept them in enclosures with thorny fences, called zaribas, en route. The Jailaba prospered, and became a powerful and wealthy community – with vested interests in slavery. To this day, Southerners sometimes refer to Northerners as “Jallaba” as if, to them, the merchant class represents the entire society. Top
Slavery in Sudan
“The most comprehensive account of the practice of slavery in contemporary Sudan.”—Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
“A distressing account of the tragic phenomenon of slavery and forced labor emerging from the civil war in Sudan.”—Anthropos
“A shocking account of Sudanese slavery.”—Crime and Justice International
Slavery has been endemic in Sudan for thousands of years. Today the Sudanese slave trade persists as a complex network of buyers, sellers, and middlemen that operates most actively when times are favorable to the practice. As Jok Madut Jok argues, the present day is one such time, as the Sudanese civil war that resumed in 1983 rages on between the Arab north and the black south. Permitted and even encouraged by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, the state military has captured countless women and children from the south and sold them into slavery in the north to become concubines, domestic servants, farm laborers, or even soldiers trained to fight against their own people. Also instigated by the Khartoum government, Arab herding groups routinely take and sell the Nilotic peoples of Dinka and Nuer.