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SLM statement on the secular state


Jan 2, 2006 (LONDON) — In the following paper, Abdelwahid al-Nur the leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement explains his position on the secular state as the only way to realize unity and equality in the Sudan.

SLM/A. Mission Statement

Sudan Liberation Army and Movement (SLA/M) is an independent political
movement. It dedicated to fostering liberal secular democratic state
base on equal citizenship rights. Through our objectives of equal
rights and democratic initiatives, we hope to engage our fellow
Sudanese people who concern about secular democratic state that
construct a concrete and feasible ways to advance peace, order and
good government.

More than almost any other nations, Sudan is composed of persons of
various religious, races, culture, ethnic and geographical
backgrounds. There are, of course, many citizens who retain strong
religious, ethnic, racial and tribal ties. But there are also others
who, in their heritage, are able to find different racial, ethic and
tribal heritages represented, and who think themselves simply as
Sudanese. And that, of course, is important, because difference is
primarily a matter of how the person in question thinks of himself or
herself. The self- identification, if any, determines the individual
or groups has on personal or group behavior, both political and
otherwise. In this respect, Sudan is in many ways a diverse society,
that is, a country composed of variety of peoples. This diversity can
be measured in many ways in terms of socio-cultural, religion,
language, region, economic and politics. With respect to all these
differences and for more than half century, there is specific
political truism that denying equal citizenship rights to the majority
of our citizens.

From the standpoint of the relation between citizens and government,
we are living in strange time, and it seems that there is more value
in addressing this time on its own term than in continuing to patch up
and preserve than hollow architectonics of our society. Our efforts
could go into defense of the integral equal representational reality,
the one associated with a rights-endowed, autonomous well, or they
could go into dissolution and abandonment of that reality. One of the
most important sad lessons we must remember from the old Sudanese
political parties (right and left wing political parties) is that they
failed to create coherent political visions that gives equal
representation to our society at large.

We believe that this is the real threat to the unity of our unity. The
fundamental reality of our sad political life was dating back to our
independent day in 1956, which formulated on the existence of few
dominant elites in central government in Khartoum. In this sense, many
of the pivotal episodes in Sudan?s ruling history have centered in the
hands of these few exclusivist elites in the central government. This
reality made the two-thirds of our citizens? feel alienated or that
the polity is not theirs to engage in it. And these precise scopes of
exclusion remain the most serious threat to the unity and stability of
our country.

Visions of uphold such dilemma will play vital roles in our
contemporary Sudanese politics. We believe that there is an enormous
amount of ink has been spilt on the allegedly to answer the question
of equal political representation. However, as a Sudanese people, and
in more than 50 years as an independent nation, we have failed to
build prosperous, tolerant, peaceful, free, and democratic society on
what is one of the most ethnocultural diverse society in the world. We
have not become so accustomed to our diversity that we often to notice
how exceptional Sudan is in this regard. Most of the time however,
there is constitution policy emphasis on one culture, language and
religion hold the idea that all divers citizens have to assimilate to
them. In this regard, most of the Sudanese people are unwilling to
tolerate such practices.

Increasing numbers of the people?s today consider the political
process exclusive, unrepresentative, and failed to reflect the
diversity of all Sudanese people and their regions. A vivid
illustration is the constitution set up of the country, which excluded
most of representative process, we might say, it excluded the majority
of the society from their equal rights. Some people excluded from
sharing political power, public office, and other rights. And we have
good reason to believe that this long sustained history of exclusion
is not a matter of historical blind spots, this exclusion is build
into the very calculable conceptual framework of denial of equal
rights to some specific individuals and groups of people of our country.

This built-in exclusion let most of the people use different methods
to call for their rights. But, the problem has an added complexity
when the existing structures of inequalities imposed to the nation
state structure, and its accompanying conceptions of citizenship, in
the first place. Thus, the question, then, is, can we let the
inequality remains heavily influenced by membership of few elites in
central government in Khartoum, or can we let these elites practice
their exclusion policies forever? Can we expected fair and open
process of democracy, responsive to the public will; consensus about
how this process out to work? Can we able achieve respect and equal
representation to all our citizens? Why we have such trouble learning
to live together as a nation? What can be done to eradicate such
practices and hold our society and its diversity together?

As politically alert our society are well aware, the proper role of
race, culture and religious in the public life. We see that if the
state commits to one religion, race or culture, members of other race,
culture or faiths might be alienated since such values would be
imposed upon them. They may be prohibited from practicing the rituals
in public, and they may be deprived of their right to hold certain
positions in the state, such as president, or other key positions.
This would create disturbances and conflicts that would present
obstacles for the progress of our country. Here, we are not in favor
of any values of one religion, race or culture to be imposed on any
groups or individuals in our country Sudan. We are in favor of a
constitution that based on liberal and secular and religion should be
seprate from the state. In short, we consider that the state should
take a secular approach, neither supporting nor denying any race,
culture or religion. It is up to the citizens to follow whatever faith
and values they choose and practice what rituals they please.

The best way to achieve such objectives is only through equal
political representation. In this sense, we consider that in any
political system, political leadership requires guidelines for
action-the supreme law or constitution of the state, which defines and
limits political power, and the existence of constitution embodies the
rule of law. In addition to setting out commitment to certain general
goals of constitution that intended to provide guarantee equal rights
to all our people. The authority of the state is to be exercised
rationally and without malice, with all citizens, no matter what her
or his transgression, cannot be denied the due process of law. No
individual or group is above the law; and all are equal before the
law. No government or administrative official has any power beyond
what is awarded by law.

To obtain such objective, we strive to provide flexible secular
democratic structure whereby all Sudanese people can equally included
and actively represented. To do so, we committed to the view that the
dignity of each Sudanese man and woman is the cardinal principle of
peaceful liberal democratic society. We believe in principles that
group rights, individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity is
the framework of a just society. Also, we recognize that human dignity
requires that all citizens have access to full information concerning
the policies and leaderships of the country. As well as the
opportunity to participate in open and public assessment of such
means, such modifications of policies and leadership as they deem
desirable to promote general well-being to the people of our country.
We aspire to contribute to the creation and emergence of strong civil
society. Such society, we believe, would offer an alternative
political structure to the vast majority of the Sudanese people, and
become both an incentive and glue for the establishment in the country
to improve. We challenging and balancing, the exclusion,
discrimination, segregations and stereotyping, and that would be by
establish civil society that helps accelerate much needed, social,
cultural, religious, economic and political reform. Over all, we are
working for the right of all Sudanese people, a reights that represent
a decent life; a life that is free from fear, oppression, and
persecutions. We do not intend to weaken or be antagonistic to any
entity, group, or individual. To achieve our goals, we intend to work
with all those who share our vision for liberty, equality, human
rights, tolerance and a democratically governed Sudan.

Abdulwahid Mohamed Ahmed Alnour
Sudan Liberation Movement and Army (SLM/A)

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