Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 22 October 2017

Splits in Sudan’s liberation movements and questions of the future: Different Personalities Same DNA

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By Malik Agar Eyre Nganyoufa

A split is a process of fragmentation of a coherent movement or political party.

Historically, many, if not all, armed resistance movements have experienced divisions and splits. Each movement has its own drivers and dynamics. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) is not unique, or immune to these experiences.

I would like to narrate part of this history of splits and how they usually begin with an internal coup, with reference to Sudan and, in particular, the SPLM/A . What are the splits in the history of the SPLM? Why did comrades who fought a common enemy for decades fall into devastating splits? What went wrong? What have we learnt from these experiences? And what are the important questions that we keep missing?

A NARRATIVE OF SPLITS IN THE MOVEMENT

In the early beginnings of the SPLM, the Anyanya (II) group generated the Movement’s first divisions, attempting an internal coup in Itang village. Those involved in the first split were many, among them Akout Atem, De Mayan, Gordon Koung, William Abdalla Choul, Vincent Kuany, and others. The split delayed the progress of the SPLM for a number of years as it fought to reorganize itself around it founding objectives. Thousands were lost in useless internal fighting in Pilpham, Jeko and Quanylau. The splinter group ended up in Khartoum, at the heart of the enemy, establishing their military headquarters within the Sudanese General Army command in Khartoum. They soon started fighting alongside the Government of Sudan’s army and against the SPLM/A.

The splinter group offered two major justifications for their battle against the SPLM/A. The first was that the movement was dominated by the Dinka tribe, represented by Col. Dr John Garang, Lt. Col. Kerubino Kuanyin, Major Salva Kiir and Major Arok Thon. The fight thus took on an ethnic dimension, Nuer against Dinka, in which thousands were victimized, villages were burned down, properties were looted and women were raped. The second reason advanced by the those who split was the need for reform of the SPLM/A, and review of the ‘New Sudan vision’: that the military and political structure of the movement should be changed in order to serve the priority of the liberation of South Sudan.

Motivated by the struggle over power, the first split in the SPLM was an ‘ordered anarchy’, as it was conceptually used before by the anthropologist Evan- Prichard in his study of the Nuer tribe in the 1940s. The members of the splinter faction, after the liberation of Pilpham base 1984 by William Nyoun , they ended up being accommodated in Khartoum as ‘friendly troops’: Khartoum continued to shape their political values and system until they finally came back to the movement in August 1988 through the Jokmir reconciliation process.

The second coup occurred in 1987 when the-then Lt. Col. Kerubino Kuanyin in Blue Nile’s second axis used a call for “reform” of the Movement to mobilize combatants from Bahar Elghazal region to support him. Kerubio was not popular enough to mobilize the whole of Bahr Elghazal, which would have been a disaster for the movement. His attempt was contained by his arrest without bloodshed. Kerubino then ended up being hosted in Khartoum,

supported to wage a war against the SPLM/A. He was later murdered by Peter Gatdiat (Jundi Iraqi), who was also supported by Khartoum.

Another example of schism in the Movement was the case of Major Arok Thon Arok. Arok was not satisfied with the position he was awarded as he saw himself as senior to Kerubino Kuanyin, William Nyoun and Salva Kiir who had all received promotions. He was always vocal in criticizing this situation and used the opportunity of a visit to the United Kingdom to establish contact with one of the Government Army Generals, Abdulazim Sadig, in London. Upon his return, Arok was arrested and jailed by the Movement for some time before he managed to escape from detention in Western Equatoria. Arok ended up in Khartoum, signing an agreement with the enemy. The objective of that agreement was the overthrow of Dr John from the SPLM’s leadership, the reform of the Movement and an undertaking by the government in Khartoum to respond to South Sudan demands for liberation. Arok eventually ended his life in a plane crash in Nasir area, South Sudan, along with Vice President El Zubair Mohamed Salih and others, an accident that generated a lot of suspicions that it had been arranged by the Islamists in government.

By mid-1990, the Movement had regained its strength and had managed to liberate many areas including Jalhag in North Upper Nile, Torit in Eastern Equatoria, Yai, Maridi, Mundari, Yambio, Tambura and Bow Bridge in Western Equatoria. These were significant victories, which were achieved despite the internal splits and the loss of support from Ethiopia for the Movement after the collapse of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime in Addis.

In 1990 the entire SPLA Command—and more than two brigades—assembled in Fagak to establish new units and restructure its command. The meeting resulted in Command of the Central and North Upper Nile sector being put under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar. Blue Nile and West Upper Nile sector was to be commanded by Dr. Lam Akol. The two leaders were assigned these senior positions and deployed to the field notwithstanding rumours that both were planning an internal coup. (Lam Akol has documented this period in his book "Inside an African Revolution" that includes details of the coup.)

In September 1990, forces started moving to their respective areas of operation. I was deployed in a commando force to Western Equatoria. When we reached Jebel Boma, Dr. John communicated to me that Lam Akol in Maban had requested me to report to him. I asked whether I should understand this as an order to report to Dr. Lam in Maban? He said, “this is not an order, it is rather to inform you that it is the desire of Lam.” I immediately asked Dr John if he was aware of other desires and intentions of Dr. Lam? I stated that if it was an order I would continue to Dr Lam in Maban, but if I had a choice in the matter I would prefer to head to my original assignment in Western Equatoria, which I did. Our campaign there went very well and we liberated the whole region of western Equatoria. Our sector then advanced towards Darfur under the leadership of Daud Yahaya Bolad and Abdelaziz Elhelu.

During the same period, in mid-1991, Riek Machar, Lam Akol and Gordon Koung announced their anticipated coup in Nasir town, resulting in the creation of a new splinter group, the SPLM- Nasir faction. Echoing the stance of previous coups and splits in the Movement, the reasons given by Dr Machar and Dr Lam for their coup were: the need for liberation and self-determination for South Sudan, reform and democratization of the SPLM and changes in command and structure. The promotion of this agenda was, however, always unfortunately marred by portraying others in the Movement as unfaithful, traitors to the cause and corrupt. Ironically for the ten years that the spilt persisted, none of the reforms, the national conference or the objectives listed by Dr. Lam and Dr. Machar in the coup’s document, ‘Why Garang must go?’ were realized. The only achievement of the split was Khartoum’s opportunistic “agreement” to the demand for self-determination!

The coup of Dr. Machar and Dr. Lam led to a full scale spilt in the Movement. The two immediately ordered their forces to fight against the SPLM/A instead of fighting the real enemy, the Khartoum regime. Within days massacres were being committed throughout the SPLM/A’s areas of control. In Bor alone, the place of origin of Dr John Garang,

thousands of civilians were killed, property was looted and women were raped and killed. The Government of Khartoum took immediate advantage of the spilt and launched its “Victory Sword / Seaif Al-Obur" military campaigns. As consequences, SPLM/A lost most of the areas in Upper Nile to Reik Machar/Lam Akol’s group and to Sudan government forces.

William Nyoun, a SPLM/A senior officer, agreed with the ethnic rationale that Machar and Lam had adopted to mobilize support for their split, declared his Nuer identity and joined the coup. Kerubino Kuanyin did the same in Bahr Elghazal and joined Machar’s agenda. Instead of advancing towards Juba as it was the plan at the time, these alliances between the splinter groups put the Movement in the terrible situation of having to defending itself against its own splinter forces. As a result, it lost many locations and became squeezed into small areas in the south, with pockets under the command of Yousif Kuwa in Nuba Mountains. Blue Nile was completely taken from the SPLM/A. In Eastern Equatoria, Galrio Modi and others were forced to take sides with Riek Machar due to de facto power situation on the ground where the area was dominated by Nuer forces. Galrio and his force were compelled to follow the dictum: “if you can’t fight them, make peace with them”.

After the change in the situation on the ground and SPLM/A’s loss of most of its areas of control, the splinter factions came together and signed the “Khartoum peace agreement” with the regime in 1997. The agreement granted the splinter groups’ demand for the right to self-determination for South Sudan and 80% of the oil revenues. For Khartoum, however, the split was an opportunity and agreement not a matter of principle: once it had reaped the maximum advantage from encouraging the splinter groups to fight the SPLM/A by proxy the regime dishonoured the agreement. Dr. Riek had no option but to rejoin the SPLM/A, followed by Dr Lam Akol and William Nyoun, the latter who was killed later in an internal fight at his homeland Fangak.

The constancy of the members of the Movement who remained loyal to the leadership and the SPLM/A’s vision, objectives and structure ultimately defeated those who had tried to split the Movement, and in fact saw the Movement growing strength and unity. This led to the re-establishment of the Blue Nile front, followed by the liberation of several areas such as Kurmuk and Gessan. Troops even began to advance to the state capital Damazine. The SPLM/A also managed to liberate Kapoeta, Rumbek, Tonj, Yai, and once again, put Juba under siege.

This background is significant, particularly at the moment because of its coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the split of the Nasir’s group of Dr Riek Machar, Dr Lam Akol and Gordon Koung. Devastating consequences of this coup and split is still influencing the thinking of many southern Sudanese. Indeed, the current awful war in South Sudan, which started in December 2013 can easily be traced and to find its roots in that split, twenty years ago.

Ultimately, the creation of new realities on the ground by an SPLM/A standing united and strong against a common enemy, put real pressure on the Khartoum government, paving the way for a genuine engagement in peace talks. These multiple pressures underlay the signature in 2005 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

A NEW HISTORY AND A NEW SPLIT

The SPLM/A North was born in 2011 as a logical development of the secession of South Sudan. The decision was made to immediately begin a process of disengagement between the Movement in the South and the North, starting with the restructuring and reorganization of the Movement’s in northern Sudan. A number of ad hoc committees were formed to tackle these tasks, from development of a new vision for the “New Sudan, to the creation of a new political program and agreement on the status of the SPLA in the Two Areas. When the regime in Khartoum decided to launch its war again in the Two Areas in 2011, the peaceful political work of building the Movement in Sudan was disrupted.

The challenge was thus doubled: politically there was the job of building a new Movement (the SPLM-North) and militarily there was the urgency of responding to the regime’s offensives. Although the work of the ad hoc committees came to a halt, some progress was still made. Efforts to bring together and organize members of the Movement in three distinct atmospheres—liberated areas, government controlled areas and diaspora—have continued without cease, albeit slowly. The SPLM North once again played its pioneer role in crafting political alliances between different opposition forces, armed and unarmed. Throughout the seven years of the new liberation war, the SPLA North has managed to stand against the regime’s ongoing offensives and to protect innocent civilians in the Two Areas. The story of the SPLM/A North’s negotiation with the regime and diplomatic engagement with external actors are an open book that demonstrates the Movement’s insistence on promoting the same vision, principles and objectives that have been developed since 1983.

In the middle of this progress—not without its shortcomings of course—history began to repeat itself, however, and something went wrong. Clearly, we have not learned our lessons from our previous experiences of coups and splits.

Beginning in early 2017, the Deputy Chairman of the SPLM/A North, Abdalaziz Elhelu offered his resignation a number of times. On each occasion, the issues he raised were addressed. The last resignation, however, was in a form which declared a new internal coup: in March 2017, Comrade Abdalaziz decided to table his resignation, not to the SPLM North Leadership Council, the highest political body in the Movement, but to the Nuba Mountains Regional Liberation Council. The third resignation by Comrade Abdalaziz was in effect a declaration of mobilization rather than a mere resignation.

The agenda set out in the resignation document that declared the new coup was similar in tone and content to the platforms of previous splinter groups. In addition to insulting ‘old’ comrades by describing them as unfaithful and traitors to the Movement, the new coup agenda included calls for: self-determination for the people of Nuba Mountains, reform and democratization of the movement; secularism as a principle of governance in Sudan; and maintenance of the SPLA North for a period of 20 years in the event of a peace deal with the ruling regime in Khartoum. Needless to say here that the SPLM/A North, as an open book, had been having ongoing discussion around this agenda at various levels throughout the seven years of the new struggle.

The agenda driving Abdalaziz’s new coup had divided the Movement in the past—now the same agenda made fragmentation a reality for the new SPLM North. Not only that, the split carried the same historic symptoms forcing an internal military confrontation in the Blue Nile and triggering a wave of inter-communal violence, reflecting previous divisions.

It is a shame that we victimize our fellow citizens in the current liberation war twice, simply because blindness prevented us from learning the lessons of the history of coups and splits in our Movement.

The SPLM/A North is weakened by the current split. It will take time to bond together again as a united movement, even while it continues the struggle to realize the principles and objectives of the New Sudan vision.

Quick observations about the DNA of splits in the old and contemporary history of the Movement

(1) The slogans of “reforms and democracy” are raised high during the coup process until the split consolidates. Later the status quo continues and differences arise again, engendering more divisions;
(2) The demand for self-determination is made in order to differentiate the coup-makers from others: emerging without deep democratic discussion, it confuses strategic and tactical directions.
(3) Regional slogans are developed and championed using radical discourse which emphasizes superior revolutionary credentials.
(4) Former comrades are portrayed as having betrayed the vision and objectives of the common cause, in contrast with the greater genuine commitment of those encouraging the split.
(5) Eventually, the splinter group ends up on the side of the enemy, the ruling regime, through piecemeal deals and short-term thinking.

LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

This history and current story of splits in the SPLM/A not only teaches us a number of lessons, it also helps us to generate the right questions to better face, and prepare for, the future. Crisies of the Movement can teach us how to utilize them as an opportunity for renewed commitment to the values of the SPLM.

While the previous section presented the history and context of previous splits in the Movement, this part summarizes the main controversies and drivers behind these splits. It elaborates some lessons-learned and asks some key questions that can enlighten the path of the struggle of the SPLM/A North.

First: The Movement’s popular vision of the New Sudan finds its roots in equal citizenship that fights against discrimination, whether based on culture, ethnicity, class, gender, race, religion, region, development, or political affiliation. The SPLM’s vision also answers the historic question of the relationship between the center and the periphery in Sudan, and aims to heal the distortions in Sudanese identity and instill respect of Sudanese diversity.

When it was adopted by the SPLM in 1983, the “New Sudan” vision created a fundamental paradigm shift in the thinking and lives of the people in the peripheries and war zones, who had been suffering the imposition of a distorted identity which sold “Arab” and “Islam" as a national identity. The New Sudan vision was perceived by some nationalists in South Sudan and other conflict zones in the peripheries, however, as a threat to their regional and/ or ethnic projects and objectives. Thus, the New Sudan vision was received with jealousy and enmity by several groups in areas that were a social cradle for the movement. Regional and ethnic nationalists have been working hard to undermine the vision and objectives of New Sudan all through the experience of the Movement, both from inside and outside the SPLM.

History shows us how the views and actions of these groups—both splinters and nationalists—eventually coincide with—or are exploited by—the positions of the ruling regimes in the center, regardless of their ideological differences. This explains why these groups initially receive acceptance and encouragement, and end up serving the regime’s interests in fighting both the Movement’s presence and the New Sudan vision which is categorically a threat—and diametrically opposed—to the narrow vision of the Old Sudan.

Second: Balancing the political and military components of armed liberation movements is crucial to advancing the national vision and objectives of these Movements. It is also a lesson-learned for our Movement in the face of internal coups and splits. The very composition of liberation movements in which the military component becomes the dominant element creates an internal superior legitimacy for this component amongst others.

Building military legitimacy in liberation movement is a hard road to walk. As a result, in many cases, it is built and evolved around monolithic formations, which in many cases also depend on the ethnic affiliation of the combatants and commanders. Thus, ethnicity and patronage becomes the system. 1 These combatants are usually mobilized.

1 Dr. Phillip Rosssler in his book, Ethnic Politics and State Power in Africa, with emphasis on Sudan and South Sudan, illustrates some of these aspects. See: chapter 1 The purge: Juba, December 2013 ; chapter 3, Theories of Ethno-political Exclusion; chapter 5.3, The origin and organization of Sudan’s Islamic Movement and chapter 5.5, Al-Ingaz and the pacification of Darfur.

and recruited from certain geographic areas that are directly impacted by the suffering that has given the impetus to the liberation war. In such an environment, despite the huge sacrifices of these combatants, they represent a threat to liberation’s vision and objectives unless their role is balanced with the political component of liberation. As they are the manpower of the struggle to achieve liberation’s vision, they are also the first to challenge the same vision when times of internal splits arise. This usually happens when the creation of military legitimacy within liberation movements also generates ethnic legitimacy for the liberation. For splinter groups, such environments represent the ideal context to grown their coup projects prioritizing ethnic mobilization.

Third: The personality and character of commanders in liberation struggles can also be disastrous factors when power struggles arise. As said by an anonymous Germen officer, commanders can be categorized by characteristic into four types: the lazy, the industrious, the clever and the stupid. Each commander possesses two or more of these characteristics. Those who combine characteristics of the stupid and industrious are the most dangerous ones when it comes to struggles for power. They are usually unrealistic, ambitious, and aim at being at the top of the hierarchy.

Power struggles can also be triggered by commanders’ personalities. Experiences of power struggles that ended in coups or splits show that in many cases they were driven by the ambition of commanders, particularly when liberation movements are about to triumph or at the peak of their achievement. Ethnic- politics as discussed in the previous section can also be a driver for commanders to follow their personality type in managing power struggles. In these scenarios, the vision of liberation is weakened, delaying achieving the objectives of the movement. The history of SPLM/A’s splits narrated above illustrates this situation very clearly.

Fourth: A stable resource base is the lifeline for liberation movements, particularly when the struggle waged includes protection of innocent civilians. At the same time, resources are also a point of vulnerability, as they can create dependency and engender personal interests and ambition among leaders. Experience tells us that most liberation movements depend on the good will of members, combatants and sympathizers. Movements also invest in managing relationships with neighboring countries and the international community to generate resources. Of course, these opportunities are governed by states interests, so are never sustainable.

This situation of resource uncertainty is a risk as leaders can be rendered vulnerable to compromises by the ruling regime, which is always ready to pay. 2 The difficulty of finding resources during struggle also leaves room for international non-governmental organizations (INGO) to interfere, including though how they provide resources for humanitarian needs. Although INGOs usually fill a real gap in the lives of millions of civilians who are in urgent need, they are not always innocent and merely humanitarian. Some of them come to provide aid or engage in human rights advocacy and in exchange serve other political and intelligence interests for their countries and international powers. Even unintentionally, the majority of these INGOs create new classes or social strata within the liberation movement by employing and empowering some selected cadres of the movement to manage their activities. Gradually these INGO cadres create their own club with a long list of benefits and interests that adheres them to the INGO rather than the movement. In some cases, this club transforms into internal opposition and feeds the planning of coups. The SPLM/A’s own experiences have given us many examples of INGOs and humanitarian workers, international and local, contributing to splits, including during the current coup within the SPLM/A North. The 1991 split, documented by Deborah Scroggins in her book ‘Emma’s War’, is just one example that was publicly uncovered: many have not yet been made public.

2 Alex de Waal extensively illustrates this vulnerability and how money involved in the Sudanese struggle and liberation movements. In his book ‘The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa’, de Waal narrates how leaders operate on a business model, securing funds for their political work, which include paying provisional allegiance of army officers, militia, commanders, tribal leaders and party officials.

Fifth: Armed liberation movements no longer conduct their struggle in jungles and dark areas. With the world now a small village, armed liberation movements are faced with new challenges. Alongside the revolution in communication and technology comes a new set of values, principles and concepts such human rights, human solidarity, war on terror, and others. The new era of the global village, unless it is understood and utilized for the best interests of liberation, can easily backlash.

In concluding this narrative and remarks, some questions still necessitate further exploration. There must be deeper democratic and constructive efforts within the SPLM/A North to ask the right questions in order to better prepare for the future and minimize possibility of divisions and splits. Among these fundamental questions are:

• What are the key pillars and components of the New Sudan vision? How do we develop them?
• Why did the current split in the SPLM/A North occur? What went wrong?
• How do we maintain our struggle in cohesion where it collides with international conceptions about armed liberation struggle?
• What are the lessons learned from the peace negotiation process so far?
• What are the economic resources needed for the development of the Movement? How they can be generated?
• What are the appropriate roles for, and relationships with, INGOs?
• How does the Movement form and maintain its political allies? Who are the strategic and the tactical allies? What are the Movement’s goals with respect to these allies?
• What would be the ideal constitutional structure of decision making for the Movement?

Answering this set of questions should not be a mere intellectual academic exercise. The purpose should be to contribute to address and resolve Sudan’s entrenched problems. The core problem has challenged the wider spectrum of Sudanese politicians over decades. It has led to violence, culminating in several wars in the peripheries of Sudan and political unrest and resistance elsewhere. What is this problem?

Sudan is a diverse country with a multitude of different characteristics, economic, ethnic, religious, cultural, and linguistic. This diverse nature has been mismanaged and ignored by consecutive national governments before and since independence of the country through adopting ad hoc constitutions and institutions that support consolidation of the parameters of Arabism and Islam. This is a clear neglect of the realities of Sudan’s diversity and a reflection of the profound identity crisis at the center of the state.

Dr Francis M. Deng summarized it well:

“the crisis of national identity in Sudan is reflected in two distortions. The first is that the dominant minority at center, though visibly an African Arab hybrid, perceives itself as monolithically Arab, with Islam and Arab culture as complementary ingredients. The second is that this already distorted self-perception is projected as a national Identity framework, which becomes inherently discriminatory of non-Arabs and non-Muslims. This has been at the cost of the conflicts that have devastated the country since independence.’’

This identity crisis is one, if not the main, cause of the conflicts in the periphery. It also generates constitutional and institutional marginalization of non-Arabs and segregates non-Muslims. Legislation which flows from this constitution reinforces these divisions: the Educational Act and the national curriculum, for example, are designed to support the assimilation of the non-Arabs into a Arab-Islam frame of mind, victimizing the people of the periphery. The personal laws and land laws—and many others—also consolidate that exclusion.

As a result, in reality, Sudan is subjected to an internal colonialization and domination, constituted by the double apartheid of ethnicity and religion.

Dr. John Garang addressed this in his five-model diagram: “Arabism and Islam alone can not unite Sudan. Africanism and Christianity that are opposed to Islamism and Arabism cannot unite us. Only Sudanism can unite us. “
For Dr. John Garang the identity of Sudan should be understood in its historical and contemporary diversity. That is the interpretation of the vision of New Sudan.

The perpetuation of this double apartheid ultimately led to the separation of the South: the separation did not resolve the question of state and religion and the double apartheid is still a threat to the fragmentation of the rest of Sudan.

This struggle around identity produced practices of marginalization that bred compounded challenges:

(a) Socio-economic policies historically empowered certain minority group at the expenses of the majority. These policies prevented the distribution of powers and resources at different levels of government and undermined the conventional principles of decentralization of power, including the right to administer and manage available resources—even deeming the latter inherently wrong.

(b) Equal citizenship must be founded on equal constitutional rights and duties. This cannot be achieved in a country that draws its laws from Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) that is by nature discriminatory and segregates.

(c) The land question: since ancient times tribes fought over control and use of land. Government practice has aggravated this situation by enacting laws in different periods of time which all privileged a single ethnicity to take advantage of economic and political power. For example, between 1899-1925 Sudan enacted Land Registration ordinances. South Sudan, southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains were under the Closed Districts ordinance of 1914- 1946 by the colonial power. The land registration ordinances essentially enabled large-scale land confiscation. The legislation has undergone several amendments but at its core it disadvantaged traditional communities both sedentary and pastoralist by undermining the legal basis of custom which had protected the interests of communities which do not usually formally register individual land title—the condition of most rural communities outside the Nile Valley. In other words, the fact that a community or an individual have been exploiting a land for generations gives them no right over its future use

The situation has been aggravated by recent legislation which has legitimized practices of land occupation, utilization and encroachment in the marginalized areas of Darfur, Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, Beja Areas of East Sudan and the Nubian areas of the far north, including land grabbing in these areas in the name of investment and development, which caused multiple wars and resistant, and constitute a major corruption cases in Sudan’s contemporary history.

This list of issues is not exhaustive: it is just illustrative of some that contribute to the main problem of our country.

Against the background of this narrative I conclude and support the school of Sudanese thought which identifies the Sudan problem as one of distorted Sudanese identity and all emerging historical social injustices are categorically manifesting themselves through this essential problem. This prime problem was coded and disguised in the symptoms of marginalization and socio-economic and development challenges of governance, power and wealth sharing. This impact of this primary problem is reinforced with the tools of state, including the security sector, executive institutions of governance and administration, and legislative institutions. Myths and sayings have

also played a major role in deepening the manifestation of Sudan’s problem. Dr Al-Baqir Afif illustrates these myths well in his book “ Wejuh Khalf Al Harb/ Faces behind war’’, by analyzing stories and discourse of the war in Darfur that adopt the method of genealogical tree to trace roots back to the Arabian peninsula and the prophet Mohamed.

Attempts were made over years since the independence of Sudan to address this fundamental problem but always in a surface way and not tackling its root-caused and in terms of the underlying problems of power sharing, wealth sharing, socio-economic and development aspects, and institutional reforms.

The way forward is to address the problem head on. Tackling the national crisis of the distortion of Sudanese identity would bring together all Sudanese in one framework on the same bases without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, gender, culture, geographical affiliation and development. THIS IS THE SPLMN VISION of Dr.John Garang the founder of the SPLM/A and remains the ONLY prospect for resolving the Sudan problem. The laws and institutions enacted over the decades to reinforce the vision of the Old Sudan –the Arab-Islamic Vision—must be dismantled. The solution must avoid the pitfalls of previous agreements, including the CPA, that ultimately became instruments to control and divide through the creation of separate geographical locations such as South Sudan, Darfur, East Sudan, Two Areas etc, and political categories: Cairo agreement, Djibouti agreement etc. This strategy of using political negotiations and agreements to contain and fragment has been described elegantly by General Lazarus Suembouyo in a Symposium organized in Washington in 2009, by the Special Envoy General Scott Gration: “The CPA is has been viewed by the SPLM/A as a tool for transformation of the country and by the NCP as an instrument for containment to allow it to pursue its dominant policies and the Arab Islamic agenda.”

A new approach to Sudanese problems must be seized if Sudan is not to continue to weaken and disintegrate. This is what the SPLM North is struggling for, and will continue to do so, despite coups and splits.

August 30, 2017



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