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Democratization and Sudan: An Obama policy of disingenuousness

By Eric Reeves

March 17, 2015 (SSNA) -- Recent comments in Khartoum by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Steven Feldstein warrant serious scrutiny in light of the elections in Sudan scheduled for a month from now. Most significantly, “[Feldstein] reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts” (State Department media note, 28 February 2015). This preposterous optimism about the nature and prospects of true national political dialogue in Sudan under the current regime is of a piece with Obama administration policies and statements over the past six years, and signals in advance of the elections that the “victory” that will be represented by President Omar al-Bashir’s “re-election” will be accepted, thereby providing the “legitimacy” that members of the regime see as the real goal of this electoral charade—boycotted by a growing number of important political constituencies and simply unable to be conducted in many parts of the country wracked by violence.

It would be a long chronicle indeed that managed to record even briefly the various moments of disingenuousness and outright mendacity on the part of the Obama administration in speaking about Sudan and articulating what passes for a “Sudan policy.” Whether it is the refusal to acknowledge realities in Darfur and the need for meaningful civilian protection; the duplicitous means by which Abyei was abandoned (notably, President al-Bashir recently declared officially that Abyei is part of Sudan); the expedient failure to acknowledge the implications of Khartoum’s military actions in South Kordofan in summer 2011; or the absurd claim by former special envoy Princeton Lyman that the current National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime (NCP) is capable of overseeing democratization in Sudan—at countless points the Obama administration has failed to take issues in Sudan seriously or speak of them honestly. The secession of South Sudan marked the end of engagement with the real issues in Sudan; and the continuing lust for counter-terrorism intelligence has ensured that Sudan policy has moved further out of the State Department and into the multifarious U.S. intelligence community.

Examples abound

Obama’s first special envoy, Air Force Major General Scott Gration, declared soon after taking the position that only “remnants of genocide” remained in Darfur. A literally incoherent statement as it stood at the time, Gration’s evident claim has been thoroughly belied by the continuing ethnically-targeted human destruction, suffering, and engineered deprivation that never ceased and have dramatically accelerated for the past three years, reaching a current crescendo that has put more than half the population of Darfur at risk—more than three and a half million people. What the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls the “GAM load” for Sudan as a whole is 2 million, i.e., 2 million people are at risk because of “Global Acute Malnutrition” (GAM).

It must also be noted that almost 3 million people are either internally displaced within Darfur or refugees in eastern Chad, the latter figure approaching 400,000. Approximately 2 million Darfuris have been newly displaced since special envoy Scott Gration made his now infamous remark about only there being “remnants of genocide” in Darfur (many hundreds of thousands more Sudanese civilians have been displaced in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States since 2011). The disastrously conceived UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is collapsing and significant elements have been already been withdrawn by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations—not always publicly. The Mission’s UN Security Council authorization, which expires this June, will not be renewed—certainly not in any meaningful form in the face of veto threats from Russia and China; for its part, Khartoum has in recent months adamantly insisted that UNAMID be withdrawn. Humanitarian organizations that have withstood all that the Khartoum regime has inflicted upon them are at the end of their tether. Certainly the end of UNAMID, and thus any international protection force, will compel withdrawal by those that have not already suspended operations or been expelled by the regime.

The targets of militia attacks by Khartoum’s redeployment of Janjaweed elements as the Rapid Response Forces (RSF) continue to remain overwhelmingly populations from the non-Arab/African tribal groups in Darfur, as do attacks on civilians—including rape—by the regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).

Following the March 2009 expulsion of thirteen international humanitarian relief organizations and the closing of three important Sudanese national relief organizations, total humanitarian capacity in Darfur was reduced by approximately 50 percent, according to one extremely well-placed UN official (confidential e-mail received March 20, 2009). Moreover, institutional memory, administrative organization, and camp leadership provided by these organizations were devastated. It was impossible to replace the capacity that existed prior to March 2009, and in fact the international relief presence has actually been further reduced by subsequent expulsions, denial of access in many areas of Darfur, and Khartoum’s relentless war of attrition against humanitarian organizations.

The Obama administration response at the time of the expulsions was a mixture of helplessness, expediency, and disingenuousness—what has become a familiar pattern. President Obama declared a week after the expulsions that such actions were “not acceptable” (March 10, 2009). But he and representatives of his administration subsequently took to a vague language of accommodation:

“We have to figure out a mechanism to get those [expelled international humanitarian organizations] back in place [in Darfur], to reverse that decision, or to find some mechanism whereby we avert an enormous humanitarian crisis, [Obama said].” (Reuters [Washington, DC] 30 March 2009)

Such a “mechanism” was of course nowhere in sight, weeks after Obama’s initial declaration—and it was left to special envoy Gration to declare a month into the crisis, “We have to come up with a solution [to the humanitarian crisis] on the ground in the next few weeks” (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], 4 April 2009). But in the absence of a “solution” or a “mechanism,” (then) Senator John Kerry, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee and an Obama administration surrogate on Sudan, offered an obscenely disingenuous claim of triumph: “‘We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent [humanitarian] capacity,’ said [Senator John] Kerry” (Reuters [el-Fasher], 17 April 2009). Kerry knew full well that Khartoum’s promise was utterly worthless, but by citing it he tuned down international pressure on the regime to respond to actions that dramatically increased the risk faced by millions of Darfuris. Tremendous human suffering and destruction followed from this disingenuousness, and the diffusing of pressure on Khartoum over humanitarian presence and access.

Gration’s successor as special envoy, Princeton Lyman, refused for months in summer 2011 to characterize the atrocity crimes in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains in remotely appropriate fashion. He denied the existence of mass graves in and around Kadugli following the large-scale and systematic targeting of Nuba civilians in June 2011, despite compelling satellite photographic evidence and reports from the ground by UN human rights officials. In a June 28, 2011 interview with the NewsHour (PBS) he scoffed at claims that what was occurring in the Nuba Mountains amounted to a reprise of the genocide of the 1990s:

“Nuba Mountain people are fighting back and I don’t think the North is capable of dislodging large numbers of people on an ethnic basis.... That’s the reality on the ground. Second, I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government....”

The current reality on the ground is that many hundreds of thousands of Nuba have been displaced over the past three and a half years—and more than 220,000 have fled from the Nuba and Blue Nile to South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of other civilians live at acute risk of military assault from the air and on the ground. The agricultural economy of the region has been devastated. And as to Lyman’s declaring, “I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government [ethnic cleansing and destruction of the Nuba people],” President al-Bashir provided a forceful rebuke of such expedient skepticism just days later:

“[President and Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir] directed the armed forces to continue their military operations in South Kordofan until a cleansing of the region is over,” SUNA [Sudan News Agency] quoted Bashir as telling worshippers during Friday prayers.” (Reuters [Khartoum] 1 July 2011)

Lyman had downplayed the significance of Khartoum’s preparation for the military annexation of Abyei (May 20 – 22, 2011)—and following the event did little to suggest the U.S. was particularly concerned. This had an immediate impact on Khartoum’s thinking and was instrumental in unleashing the military campaign that began in South Kordofan two weeks later (5 June 2011).

One might have thought that Lyman learned something of the character of the regime during his tenure as special envoy; instead, he declared in a 3 December 2011 interview with the distinguished English-language Arab news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] “The US administration has welcomed the Arab Spring which has overthrown a number of dictatorships in the Middle East and led to free and fair elections being held. Are you calling for the Arab Spring to encompass Sudan, as well?”

[Lyman] “This is not part of our agenda in Sudan. Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”

The sheer preposterousness of such a notion—that the Khartoum regime could “carry out reform via constitutional democratic measures”—is what provides the context for Feldstein’s visit to Khartoum and his comments on departing: “[Feldstein] reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts.” For Feldstein’s “National Dialogue” read Lyman’s “the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”

Khartoum’s “National Dialogue”: A deadly political farce

Feldstein’s “reiteration” is not merely preposterous but sends to Khartoum a clear signal: the U.S. will welcome any effort, however specious, to present the April 2015 presidential election as somehow an advance in the democratic process. This is what lay behind the regime’s announcing a wholly factitious “National Dialogue,” which senior regime officials have themselves repeatedly described as a political ploy, designed to give credibility to the foregone conclusion of President Omar al-Bashir’s “victory” in the election. I offer in Appendix A many examples of such comments, which come from the now fully authenticated leaked minutes of the meeting on August 31, 2014 of the regime’s most senior security and military officials, as well as the minutes for a similar meeting on July 1, 2014, also substantially authenticated by native Arabic-speaking/writing Sudanese familiar with the practices of the regime. There have been other significant leaks as well, making clear that there is a serious internal breach in the regime’s security and giving added credibility to the authenticity of these particular sets of minutes.

And yet as widely as the proposed “National Dialogue” has been rejected by the most important political constituencies in Sudan, and despite the many actors who have vowed not to participate in what is transparently a rigged electoral process, the U.S.—with far too much international company—is content to pretend that the regime’s efforts are genuine, and that the “National Dialogue” is meant to include, in meaningful fashion, other political voices.

[I attach below (Appendix B) the lengthy comments of 31 August 2015 by senior regime political official Ibrahim Ghandour on the preparations the NCP had already made in fixing the April 2015—and this was half a year ago.]

The disingenuous suggestion by Feldstein that Khartoum’s version of a “National Dialogue” has any real meaning works precisely to disenfranchise those within Sudan who truly want such dialogue. (Feldstein is evidently the most senior official Khartoum would allow, following the set-up visit by Ghandour to Washington last month; current U.S. special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth cannot obtain a visa to Khartoum.) As well as expressing support for the regime’s “National Dialogue,” Feldstein invoked in obligatory and entirely meaningless fashion the idea of “human rights” in Sudan:

"Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein said the United States will continue to emphasize key democracy and human rights priorities in Sudan."

And yet there is absolutely nothing suggesting that past Obama administration “emphasis” on “human rights” or “democracy” has borne any fruit; but of course using the words provides at least a fig-leaf of cover for an administration that is looking for a cost-free way to manage the Sudan relationship.

Words without consequence

The substitution of words for meaningful changes in policies toward Khartoum has been evident since the beginning of the Obama administration. Indeed, this was the only task for which special envoy Gration was qualified. But the substitution continues. When U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, in an unusually forcefully worded statement (12 June 2014), “condemned in the strongest possible terms” the deliberate and intensifying bombing of schools, hospitals, and “ordinary people” (Agence France-Presse [UN/New York], 13 June 2014), Khartoum had a ready response: four days after Power’s tough talk, the regime bombed the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in South Kordofan:

During an aerial attack on a Sudanese village, Sudan’s air force bombed and partially destroyed a hospital run by the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the war-torn South Kordofan region on Monday, depriving civilians of critical medical care, the organization said today. As bombs struck the village of Farandalla [more commonly spelled Frandala] on 16 June, two hit the MSF hospital. (MSF Press Release, 17 June 2014)

There was no U.S. response of consequence to this outrageous war crime, one that makes a mockery of Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein’s sanctimonious words in Khartoum about “human rights.” Indeed, in the final State Department read-out from the visit, Feldstein disingenuously spoke of the Obama administration’s

"concern about targeted attacks against civilians in Darfur and the Two Areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile], including aerial bombardments of civilian targets, and attacks on aid workers. He called upon the Government of Sudan to fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable.”

Absurdity reaches new heights with such expression of “concern”: Feldstein and everyone else knows that there is only one air force in Sudan, and that orders for the attacks come from the most senior members of the regime’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Are we really to believe that the “Government of Sudan” will “fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable”? That the regime’s senior military officials will “investigate” their own actions and “hold themselves accountable”? The pretense that any of the aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians throughout Sudan are not at the behest of the “Government of Sudan” is simply despicable.

Such pretense and the lack of any meaningful response to the attack on MSF in Frandala—on the part of the U.S. and other international actors—is the primary reason Khartoum felt free to bomb the hospital again, this time with a Russian-made Sukhoi-24 advanced air-to-ground military jet aircraft.

This attack occurred less than two months ago—and only a little more than a month prior to Feldstein’s talk of “human rights” and “democracy” in Sudan. MSF reported (22 January 2015):

A hospital operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was directly targeted in an aerial bombing in Sudan on January 20, forcing the suspension of medical activities, MSF announced today [22 January 2015]. The hospital, located in the Nuba Mountains village of Frandala in the South Kordofan region of Sudan, was bombed by the Sudanese Air Force (SAF). Repeated and targeted bombings in the region prevent the safe operation of medical activities, depriving the local population of lifesaving care...

“With more than 100 patients present, we were very lucky not to have more casualties because people simply had no time to seek protection. Everyone is shocked and frightened of further attacks.”

We should not be surprised by such attacks: for more than twenty years they have been a regular feature of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime’s conduct of war. Moreover, we have the benefit of the behind-closed-doors views expressed by Defense Minister (and former Interior Minister) Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, indicted by the International Criminal Court for massive “crimes against humanity” in Darfur. Minutes from the 1 July 2014 meeting of senior regime officials, including not only Hussein but President al-Bashir, are startlingly frank—about both “human rights” and “democracy”:

[Hussein]: “We won’t stop the war on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war against the rebellion.

We have instructed the Air Force to bomb any place, whether it is a school, hospital, or a nongovernmental humanitarian organization operating in rebel-controlled areas without permission from the government. Such presence is offensive and should be destroyed.”

Such views—of which the Obama administration is well aware—call into question the appropriateness of lifting any economic sanctions against this regime, which remains committed to war, committed to a wide range of atrocity crimes, and committed to using the notion of a “National Dialogue” not to promote democracy but to subvert it. And yet this is precisely what occurred on 17 February 2015. Sudan Tribune reported (17 February 2015) that the U.S. Treasury Department had lifted sanctions on “exports of personal communications hardware and software including smart phones and laptops.”

In justifying this action, current Sudan special envoy Donald Booth declared that, “These changes are consistent with our commitment to promote freedom of expression through access to communications tools." This is of course nonsense and Khartoum would never allow the import of anything that might “promote freedom of expression.” Importing up-to-date American computers on the other hand is certainly on the regime’s wish list, and with its total control of Internet access in Sudan, the regime hardly fears that it will be loosing the forces of free speech. During the popular uprising in September 2013, Internet access was shut down entirely at the height of the crisis, and the same will be true for any using “smart phones” in the event of a similar uprising.

Bizarrely, noting the seizure of fourteen Sudanese newspaper editions earlier in the week, Booth claimed that such repressive actions “offer a prime example of the need to enable people to have access to communication tools.” On the contrary, Khartoum will be no more tolerant of telecommunications and social media than it is of newspapers—and it has learned a great deal from the experience of its “Arab Spring” neighbors. As the minutes from the August 31, 2014 meeting of senior officials make abundantly clear, Khartoum’s intercept capabilities have grown prodigiously in recent years, giving them access even to highly secured foreign intelligence data. Controlling domestic Internet and mobile phone use will not be a problem, as many in Khartoum can attest—and as can I, having recently seen my computer in the U.S. hacked and my Sudan websites compromised for any who were on my frequently visited Facebook page (now de-activated) devoted to Sudan issues.

“Democracy” in Sudan: Expedient self-delusion

It is far past time that we ask some hard questions of the Obama administration, which has gotten a “pass” from most news media on its Sudan policy. What possible meaning can “human rights” or “democracy” have in the context of the regime’s severe political repression, its increasing crackdown on the news media, its total monopoly on broadcast programs, its exceedingly well-funded propaganda machine for both domestic and international consumption—and a willingness to deny legitimacy to all who would indeed wish to participate in a true national dialogue but are consistently rebuffed? Major coalitions have developed over the past several years: the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), uniting the rebel forces of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile; the large National Consensus Forces, which while not supporting armed insurrection has made common cause with the SRF in its ambition to bring about regime change; and most recently the signatories to the Berlin Declaration, an even more expansive group of political actors. The response to this Declaration by the regime was entirely predictable and delivered by President al-Bashir. Sudan Tribune reports (14 March 2015):

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has described the Berlin Declaration signed by the political and armed opposition groups as a “failure” considering it “as if it had not taken place.” During the last week of February, the "Sudan Call" forces, including the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), National Umma Party (NUP) and civil society groups announced readiness to participate in a meeting with the Sudanese government to discuss requirements and procedures of the national dialogue.

This came just two weeks after Feldstein’s reiteration of “U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts.”

Do Feldstein and the Obama administration think that merely uttering the words “democracy” and “human rights” makes the slightest difference to the regime’s ruthless survivalists? Do they think that should there be renewed popular demonstrations of the sort we saw in September 2013 the regime would hesitate to issue renewed “shoot to kill” orders to security forces? Such orders, authoritatively confirmed by Amnesty International, resulted in the deaths of more than 400 people in Khartoum, Omdurman, and other cities throughout Sudan.

But the recent peremptory rejection by President al-Bashir of the Berlin Declaration, coming just two weeks after Feldstein’s trip to promote “democracy” in Sudan, forces a question that the Obama administration has so far refused to answer directly: is the U.S. willing to accept a “National Dialogue” defined by the machinations and duplicity of the regime? Or does it support a truly national dialogue, between multiple important political constituencies? I queried the State Department official designated in the 28 February 2015 State Department press release in Khartoum, but was offered only a belated response, noting that my queries had been forwarded to Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein and Special Envoy Booth. Given the history of my past queries of the State Department, I am not optimistic about a meaningful response.

But we will have an answer in less than a month: the grotesque spectacle of an “election” that guarantees five more years of power to the NCP, and in the words of several senior regime officials, “five more years of legitimacy,” will make a mockery of the phrase “National Dialogue.” It will be clear that Defense Minister Hussein’s view prevails within the regime: “Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war....”

Will the Obama administration accept these realities and all they imply for millions of Sudanese? Will it accept, if with a dutiful grudgingness, the “re-election” of Omar al-Bashir as génocidaire-in-chief? Let us assume that the answer hinges on whether the Sudan file is now at the State Department or within the intelligence community; the election will clarify this question as well.

Appendix A: Examples of statements about the uses of the “National Dialogue” by senior officials of the Khartoum regime (from both the 1 July 2014 minutes and the 31 August 2014 minutes):

1 July 2014:

  • Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein:

“Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war....”

  • General Engineer Imadal-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:

The National Dialogue will serve to provide us with political cover. We will continue with this effort because it will serve us in our war against the rebellion in the coming dry season.

  • President Omar al-Bashir:

[The National Dialogue] is also intended to provide political cover for the present Constitution and the Decisive Summer Campaign [against the SPLA-North].

We don’t negotiate outside the country, and if such negotiations occur, we have used them as a means to take us to the elections in April 2015.

We will not accept a halting of the war; the solution is military victory. That will be obtained in the Decisive Summer Campaign. You are now instructed to crush the armed movements in all three fronts (Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and Blue Nile).The war against the rebellion must continue.

I am glad from what I have heard that we agree on the following: —

[1] Preparation for the Decisive Summer Campaign is to continue.

[2] Elections to be held on time April 2015.

...

[8] There will be no holding of any constitutional conference or formation of a transitional government.

31 August 2014:

  • General Hashim Osman Al-Hussein, Director General of Police:

Let us go ahead and prepare a force to protect the elections. Secondly, if negotiations are necessary let them take place after the elections. Also, the internal national dialogue can continue after we hold the elections. We will continue recruiting and splitting the field commanders, and winning them to our side since we have all the information about the rebels.

  • General Mohammed Atta, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Services:

We said the National Dialogue must be held inside the country, elections must take place on schedule, the decisive summer campaign must continue. We should step-up the recruitment to increase the RSF.

************************

  • Ibrahim Ghandur, Deputy Chairman of the NCP

We want a slow dialogue in order to allow for maneuvering. If we see that we are benefiting from it we can accelerate it, but if it is not in our favor, it can go slowly and the elections can take place in time. Our aim is to go to the election enjoying legitimacy accorded by the National Dialogue process. [See fuller comments in Appendix B]

  • General Bakri Hassan Salih, First Vice President:

The negotiations, the National Dialogue, the Paris Declaration and all their statements are needed to take us to the elections.

Try to manage this crisis until we see the result of the National Dialogue, the elections, and wipe out the rebellion to end the war. We don’t want any foreign solutions again. Any agreement should be achieved inside Sudan.

*********************

Appendix B: Ibrahim Ghandour, Deputy Chairman of the NCP, discussing electoral machinations and payoffs, from the minutes of the August 2014 meeting of senior military and security officials in Khartoum:

“First our preparations for the elections are going according to plan. Our party conferences are being held all over the country and the convention will take place on time, except that, we are going to delay naming our candidate for the presidency until the last moments so as to take the political arena by surprise. We want our security agencies to inform us ahead of time about the opinion of all political parties, loyal or detractors concerning the elections so we influence things at an early stage.

“We have already arranged with the Public Congress Party (PCP), and we are paying them individual and party compensations for their loss, in addition to funds to be used to induce opposing PCP members. The total amount is three (3) billion to be paid in three installments. The first amount is to be paid at the beginning of the National Dialogue. The second amount is to be handed at the nomination for the elections. The third, and last, is to be paid during the election campaign. We made this agreement that way in order to guarantee the participation of all the PCP in the election process.

“We agreed to it because Turabi’s support for us has another dimension. It guarantees the consent and support of all the Islamic movements who are members of the International Islamic Movement, and in case there is any security threat, he can join us in the jihad against our common enemy. We will be able to bring all the Islamists together by that agreement on the basis of a program that holds mutual benefit to all. It is not necessary to come under one organization, the most important thing is the common objective against the secular forces or currents and the conspiracies targeting the Islamists all over the Arab land.

“Regarding Al-Marghani group, (DUP) half of the party is with us, but we still need to concentrate on Hasan Hilal, Ahmed Saad and Omer Al-Shariif (currently ministers). We stand behind them, give them information on how they are targeted within their party. Also half of Ghazi Salah al-Din’s party is ours.

“We want our security agencies to maintain and keep the opposition elements so there will be a criticizing voice among us. This will help us convince the international community that ours is a mature and genuine democracy. Our relation with the EU is good and all the attempts of the SRF to enjoy recognition by the EU has failed. They only meet parliaments and not the governments who hold the decisions. We want a slow dialogue in order to allow for maneuvering. If we see that we are benefiting from it we can accelerate it, but if it is not in our favor, it can go slowly and the elections can take place in time. Our aim is to go to the election enjoying legitimacy accorded by the National Dialogue process...”

“That same night I went with Mustafa to see Al- Ziber Ahmed the S/G of the Islamic Movement and found Dr. Kamal Obeid and Dr. El- Fateh Ezz el-Din. As soon as he saw us he asked us if we were coming regarding “Sadiq and the Rebels’ declaration” and he said that after consultations they rejected it part and parcel. They considered it a conspiracy directed against us. He told us that you must criminalize anyone who attended or participated in this [Paris] Declaration, the media must be directed to campaign against it and intimidate people from joining this declaration. This declaration was supervised by foreign circles that are endeavoring to destroy Islam and the Muslims and it is tainted by the SPLM vision.

“So we asked Mbeki and Mohammed [Ibn Chambas, former UNAMID chief—ER] to bring together the rebels for consultation about the National Dialogue and both are in agreement with us.

Eric Reeves is the Author of Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007-2012 www.CompromisingWithEvil.org.

Rebuilding trust and reconciliation under Kiir is impossible!

By: Luk Kuth Dak

March 18, 2015 (SSNA) -- Emphatically, I have been radicalized by Gen. Slava Kiir and his Nuer golden boys. Goodbye silence and certainly, the reasoning with morons.

On December 15, 2014, I was incredibly horrified and extremely shocked by the kind of evil Salva Kiir was capable of when I learned that thousands of innocent Nuer civilians were massacred simply because they were Nuer!!

The event was personal to me, not only because I am virtually a member of the Nuer nation, but more so because I had held Gen. Kiir in high esteem and believed that we were sharing the same aspirations and beliefs. 

I was dead wrong!

Evidently, when Kiir first began to commit the massacre of the Nuer citizens, he had only one overarching objective on his pernicious mind: “No captives or prisoners, kill them all," he was quoted as saying! That had prompted very many human rights organizations to infer that the regime's ultimate goal was actually intended to wipe out the Nuer, who have proven to be the impediment in establishing an outright Jieeng state in the country.

A year and plus later, no credible investigation had been carried out, and certainly no one had been held accountable and, Kiir remains president!

And while one can argue that Gen. Kiir may not have fired a single bullet himself at the Nuer people, there's just no denying that he instigated it and carefully crafted the shameful plot. He will never be able to escape this history. Therefore, he must be held accountable.

It's only a matter of time!

Under this dictator, our reputation is at all time low. Matter of fact, we have become a laughing stock on the world stage. Even the closest allies are calling South Sudan a" failed state." But to the Nuer people, Kiir is simply known as a “cold blooded killer." Certainly, that's not a good position for anyone to be in, much less a president of a country.

Abraham Lincoln writes: “a house divided against itself cannot stand." If you want to know what institutional tribalism looks like, all you have to do is look around the presidential palace, the federal agencies and embassies, which are solidly controlled by one tribe and one tribe only! ( I didn't even mention that when and wherever you enter any of those agencies, chances are you would be greeted in the Dinka Language!!)

To the Jieeng credit, they are truly blessed with a talented crowd of some of the most educated and intellectuals; ironically, they don't know how to govern. In my 7 years as an anchorman and reporter at Juba radio, I had seen more than my share of the greediness exercised by the Jieeng-led defunct former High Executive Council.

Apparently, the current Jieeng-led regime didn't learn anything from the past mistakes, which led to the division of the region in 1983, better known as "Kokora." And with the country's direction hanging in the balance, the time for Gen Kiir to move on or be ousted is right now... not tomorrow. He has failed to lead the nation, and there is really nothing he can possibly offer to heal the bleeding country.

Meanwhile, Dr. Riek Machar who was seen by the marginalized South Sudanese as a savior and a pathfinder they had hope will lead them to the promise land, failed to seize the moment and to live up to their expectations. Some fear that he does not have enough fire in him to face the dire situation.

Therefore, if you are a South Sudanese citizen who thinks that you have been treated unfairly, do something about it!!

Stand your ground!

The author is a former anchorman/reporter at Juba radio. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Peace, census, and then elections in order of priority

By: Dr. Chuol R. Kompuok

March 6, 2015 (SSNA) -- South Sudan since its inception on July 9, 2011 has presented itself to the world as a great peace project not limited to South Sudanese, but also to the region and beyond. It was meant to create a community of peace and democracy based on the conviction that peace does not emerge from discussion or just utterance of plain words Salva Kiir uses to sing “no reverse gear to war,” but rather out of cooperation. Surprisingly enough, the unpopular president never honored his song for a very long time; he broke the accord and shattered the great peace project after most SPLM gubernatorial candidates lost 2010 Elections. After the president learnt that most of the staunch supporters lost the battle to private candidates for the gubernatorial posts for the ten states, he ordered the organized forces to take full charge of the polling stations across South Sudan to confiscate by force all the ballot boxes for the benefit of the SPLM candidates. The event culminated the rebellion in Jonglei state where the SPLA sector two (2) commander Lt. Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak under the direct command of the president Salva Kiir pulled the trigger and fired the first bullet, a circumstance that grazed Doleib Hill in Panyikang County of Upper Nile State to ashes on April 20, 2010 bringing the total losses from the government to 22 soldiers and wounding 19 others but, the rebel group led by Gen. George Athor lost only one person.

However, South Sudan after the long suffering of its people attempts to remodel Africa by realizing the European Kantian dream of “perpetual peace”, which is not based on the balance of military powers (or the supremacy of one of them) but rather on the universal recognition of the dignity of the human being, on the universal guarantee of human rights, and on sustainable human development, which mean superseding the current neoliberal model of globalization. In a sense, peace has its own definition that can be looked into from all angles. However, the uncivilized civil war, which is now consuming the best lives of future leaders and professionals of South Sudan, should not be considered the only best option, unless and otherwise all possible avenues for peace are exhausted. More so, the Troika and other international world bodies try to mediate the two warring parties through IGAD—led peace talk that bore no fruits for the last 15-month, but costing international community million of dollars weekly for maintenance of all the parties involved in the peace process. The Addis Ababa peace project becomes a melting pot for many, maximizing both abnormal profits and leisure should the war continue while serious human rights violation is taking place in South Sudan. To halt that profitable project the main focus now for both parties to the war should be geared towards achieving genuine peace without delay provided the root causes of the conflict are addressed. Without proper understanding of the term “peace”, it’s difficult to swallow the bitter medicine and forge a meaningful coexistence. 

The standards definition of peace in the WIKIPEDIA using contemporary world view is a state of balance, and understanding in oneself and between others, where mutual respect is gained by the acceptance of differences, and a total guarantee for tolerance, conflicts resolution through dialogue, people’s rights are respected and their voices are heard, and everyone is at their highest point of serenity without social tension. In light of the above definition, one would pose a question, where does South Sudan feature as a state at peace with itself where respect for individuals or other people’s rights taken into consideration? We can squarely blame the government of South Sudan under the leadership of Salva Kiir Mayardit, who only cares about the term limit but not the lives of South Sudanese and their welfare whom he put under the unprecedented suffering. In fact, it has now become a talk of South Sudanese leadership in Juba of election as if they have never seen election in their life time when people that voted them in the offices in 2010 are suffering on the tips of their noses. What a shame!

The civil war that takes away the peace from the rightful peace loving people is the war that must be fought by all to reclaim people’s will and aspirations for the better South Sudan. This is because, the prophet of doom Mr Salva Kiir Mayardit, ignited the war by firing the first bullet at the people for no apparent reasons but to effect self-aggrandizement. In reality, this mayhem was a mechanism president concocted to loot the oil resources and property and nobody should stop him at any cost. If human wants are satisfied, Salva Kiir together with his henchmen could have gotten rich a long time ago out of the oil money since enough has been siphoned out for the maintenance of their families and mistresses at the expenses of poor South Sudanese.

Hardly, for primary school leaver to maintain power with no basic political career, he decided to go wild and deployed the UPDF contingent after having seen his vice president Dr. Riek Machar whom he terms as the worst enemy threatens his power house and aspired to run for 2015 national elections. It is more than telling, in a recent briefing of SPLM-Juba, president Salva Kiir went viral accusing his rival of instigating war by saying Dr. Riek Machar onetime said, “much as the Nuer in South Sudan Army constitutes 75 per cent of SPLA army, it will take him (Dr. Riek) 2-hour to get rid of Salva Kiir Mayardit and form his government within the same span of time”, what a concocted version a coup plotter painted, the Kiir Kuethpiny narrative the whole world failed to buy, but only in the markets of the lemons in and around East Africa. In this tone of presentation, it was very clear from the onset that president Salva Kiir was preparing for the worst case scenario while his rival Dr. Riek Machar was very much hibernating not knowing the lioness got into the state of dementia, a state that wiped away the precious lives of all those whom we may not see in our life time. 

Salva Kiir’s psychic problem toward Riek Machar agitated him to the level no South Sudanese could imagine and exposes his old rift with Riek Machar over South Sudan 2011 Constitution. It is important to note that in his speech, while addressing the Sixth Speakers’ Forum on Wednesday Feb 8, 2011 in Juba, which gathered leadership of legislative assemblies across South Sudan’s ten states, the president of the government of South Sudan Salva Kiir accused his vice, Dr. Riek Machar, of running a parallel government within the government. The president in particular accused his deputy of floating a document supporting amendments to the current Constitution. Here is what the president had to say, “If we drive with this full speed, in reference to the circulating documents, which he said were unreasonable and creating disinformation, I believe we will not reach our destination, we will crash in the middle.” The president went on and said he did not want to see the parliament divided over the issues raised by the documents. “You are not here as tribes,” he told the Speakers. “You’re building a nation and building a nation is above any tribe and any tribal grouping will never take us anywhere,” he said. Mr. Salva Kiir further said, “There were those who display unity and nationalism at day time, but turn into tribal at night.” 

Given the above quotes and narratives of the president, the question one would want to ask the general public is who inclined to the tribal affiliation between the president and the vice president? Simple and clear answer is Salva Kiir Mayardit himself. The president was pushing very hard the passing of unpopular Constitution of 2011 with powers vested in him almost equal to God who created Heaven and Earth. Distinctively, under God’s creation, all the living and non-living things are living under the protection of HIM (the God) with the delegated powers to human being as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on earth. For Salva Kiir who claimed to deliver South Sudan to all South Sudanese on Golden Plate delegated executive powers to none, but those South Sudanese who voiced their concerns on his (Salva Kiir) fascist rules are convicted to death, an action that gave birth to December 15, 2013 Juba Massacre of more than 20,000 Nuer plus the other non-Nuer who happened to fall into the jaw of a deadly crocodile. In fact, sometimes people overlook the number of dying children who are not accounted for in the UN camps all over South Sudan. If we estimate the dying children together with initial Juba massacre, the figure would stand on average at about 50,000 people. These innocent children whom Salva Kiir’s militias spilled over their precious blood for no good reasons are now watching in their graveyards with no mercy until Salva Kiir joins them. From his speech in the Sixth Speakers’ Forum, one would deduce that the unpopular president was ready for war, which many South Sudanese underestimated. Nonetheless, Salva Kiir who is the driver of the vehicle without gear caused the accident head-on without shame while directing the blame to other people who were not party to the skidding car on the icy road.  

From the bird’s eye view Dr. Riek Machar was not trying to run a parallel government within the government as perceived by Salva Kiir, but in furthering the democratic processes when he suggested some amendments in the 2011 Constitution for the betterment of the lives of the entire South Sudanese, an act Nuer community were condemned to death. The president who claimed to be non-tribal in nature become the main architect, training 15,000 private army in Luri, 10 miles north of Juba without the knowledge and consent of former Chief of General Staff, Gen. James Hoth Mai, a Nuer. This is a proof beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. President was not for peace but his hands are tainted with Blood of innocent South Sudanese. In real sense Mr. Salva Kiir causes serious violation on the Constitution he claimed to have uphold, nonetheless, the Constitution does not grant him the powers to train private army without the approval from the toothless parliament whom he all the times threaten to fire at will and end up begging on the Juba streets.

Therefore, scheduling elections for June 30, 2015 to extend the bloody hands of Kiir, before achieving Peace and conduct of National Census is a violation of the rights of people of South Sudan. Such is linked with a direct robbing of people of South Sudan the right to democratic processes. Salva Kiir will always play a ticket of peace loving person while bleeding the country if he continues leading the country. Indeed, South Sudanese should be aware of such a game player in the overcoat of democrat. In the same vein of argument, conducting South Sudan population and housing census before 2015 elections was the pre-condition that was stipulated in the 2011 Constitution.  

Rewinding the history, prior to 2011 Historic Referendum, the Fifth Sudan Population and Housing Census, a milestone in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was conducted from 22nd April to 6th May 2008. Many South Sudanese believed the census to be first all-inclusive census ever since Sudan became independence in January 1956 and assume the results will help decide on how wealth and power ought to be shared in the Sudan. However, the anomalies came to be the order of the day as both South Sudan and the Sudan traded accusations when the official results of the Census got announced with the South Sudan population estimated on average about 8.2 million or 21.10% of the total population. The semi-autonomous Southern region disputed the results as manipulated and represented nothing of Southern population.

The then Sudanese First Vice President and the head of Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Salva Kiir Mayardit warned he would not accept Census results that appear unreasonable. Again, Salva Kiir said, he is unhappy with the results of the census conducted in 2008 and called for it to be excluded from wealth and power sharing which was thought to be used to determine the distribution of wealth and power, including booming oil proceeds. President Salva Kiir told a rally at Lainya, Central Equatoria state that we will not accept less than 15 million as population of Southern Sudan. In another venue in Bentiu capital of Unity State where president spoke to the South Sudan Chiefs Conference on May 14, 2009 and said “he is unhappy and unsatisfied with the census results.” It was also Salva Kiir who rejected the results and at the same time accepted the census results, a big contradiction from the president.

Given all the odds of the population census, South Sudan as a sovereign state promises itself to conduct population census before conduct of the national elections scheduled for June 30, 2015. The 2008 Census helped in determining wealth and power sharing, not limited to Sudan only, but also explicitly applied to South Sudan wealth and power sharing. Salva Kiir who championed the rejections of the Census results when South Sudan still an autonomous region, now change the tactic by supporting elections in the absence of Housing and National Census. Without shame, the head of National Statistics and Census Bureau Isaiah Chol Aruai supported the president and said the Bureau’s failure to hold Census ahead of elections should not stop the polls from taking place although he agreed that collecting census data, under normal circumstance, was supposed to precede the elections. The Chairperson of the Bureau violated the South Sudan’s 2011 Constitution, which stipulates that the census data are to determine among other things, … the number of electoral constituencies for the general elections” in favor of the president. Moreover, the drafting of the Permanent Constitution should have preceded the elections as one of the requirements in the process but only cowardice person, Isaiah Chuol Aruai, the head of National Statistics and Census Bureau should have been the one to admit the conduct of elections in the faces of all crises the country has engulfed in. God sometimes works miraculously, Isaiah Chol Aruai, the head of South Sudan Census and Statistics Bureau fell in the hands of the SPLM-IO after plane that carried him landed in Jiec payam of Ayod County in the hands of the people whom he denied their plight on the postponement of 2015 elections, a call supported by every sound minded South Sudanese citizens. Anyway only God knows.        

In the scheduled June 30, 2015 elections, many South Sudanese forecasted it to be another mayhem that serves only as a catalyst for unprecedented catastrophic awaiting South Sudan. Many officials in the government of South Sudan appear to beat the drums, “elections must go ahead” including those whom their constituencies are grazed to zero ground cum non-existence population or yet to be born. For instance, nearly the entire greater Upper Nile Region become ghosts town and if at all the ghosts conduct the elections, it will be the first experience of its kind ever in the world and South Sudan as the nascent state will be the real model of the day. If not because people are obsessed with greed and lust for scrupulous rent seeking behavior now in the South, none of these officials would talk about 2015 elections before achieving the prerequisites—peace and national census. Greater Bahr el Ghazal region is not exceptional. Lake state for instance, is susceptible to intra clans fighting since the time the president Salva Kiir imposed illiterate Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol as the military governor. The move of the president to remove unconstitutionally the elected governor Chol Tong Mayay of the Lake state further the suffering of the people and to make the matter worst president put to shelf people’s call to remove the caretaker governor Gen. Matur Chut to give peace a chance.

Can we really say Salva Kiir is a man of peace or just a chameleon who dance to the tune of the criminals? Without further analysis, one would conclude that president Salva Kiir Mayardit is a culprit who will directly report to ICC after the conclusion of the peace deal. Salva Kiir government’s rejection of the advice of the US government and other international bodies for South Sudan not to hold elections before the conclusion of IGAD mediated peace is a sign of dying horse with little hope to live longer. The outdated lawyer, Michael Makuei Lueth and obsolete pharmacist, Barnaba Marial Benjamin creates a lot of havocs to the people of South Sudan and the country at large. Sometimes, one wonder as to who, the spokesperson for the government since both of them utter words with strong bearing effect on the people who voted for them together with the unpopular president. In a nutshell, one would be able to deduce that the government of Salva Kiir Mayardit is the government with no direction, now experimenting on the mode of governance with weak institutions. As for Barnaba Marial Benajmin, who came into the parliament through Uror County ticket because his biological father believed to have come from Uror County of Lou Nuer, but breastfed and groomed in the Lake state, has betrayed his people shamelessly in favor of Dinkaism. He has totally forgotten that those who rejected him from Bahr el Ghazal yesterday are the one whom he is trying to jump into bed with them in pretext of working for one people, one nation, a total abomination.

The South Sudan cabinet’s current postponement of scheduled 2015 elections for the next two years to give peace a chance is a tactic that will not save Salva Kiir’s government towards the concerns of all South Sudanese, who are crying for peace than the government’s concern for the president’s term limit. The rubber stamp parliament the matter was referred to for further consideration has no legal mandate for the extension of the president’s term limit since their term limit is on the burst of expiration comes July 9, 2015. As a matter of fact, none of them would have legal backing from the public to extend the term limit without the consent from the people and the 2011 Constitution of the land that everyone upholds by imposition. All South Sudanese are tired and sick of the game the government plays every time they see reactions from the public and would by all means try to please them but run in vain. The government in Juba should admit committing the heinous crimes against the people immediately and further unconditionally accept publication of the AU Commission of Inquiry results to make peace a reality. And IGAD heads of state including those who are fighting alongside government while negotiating on behalf of the government should distance themselves from South Sudan’s internal affairs to give South Sudanese a breathing space.    

In conclusion, election plays key role in the democratic transformation in the most contemporary world where transfer of power ideally runs smoothly without fail. However, South Sudan though has come a long way achieving its hard worn independence on July 9, 2011, making it 194th country in the world failed to be in the same category in the implementation of the international laws. Therefore, it’s not excluded in adherence to the international laws governing the fair conduct of business in line with world businesses, and respect for the rights of all human beings irrespective of their color, race, creed, sex, age … to live without fear of any sorts. South Sudan leaders decided to rule the country with impunity denying people their basic rights. Approximately, about 150,000 people live in the UN concentration camps in the South and about 2 million people live as refugees in the neighboring countries. Such a state of affairs put the country to test.  However, to think of elections at this point in time is an insult to the intelligentsia of South Sudanese without laying good ground for peace as number one priority followed by national census. 2015 elections, is a mere propaganda from the center, and the project is not achievable either. It rather serves as recipe for more wars and not to forgetting, the South Sudan independence was achieved through historic referendum, for which South Sudanese were the main participants all over the world. In this case, Salva Kiir as individual cannot hold the people and the land hostage to maintain his grip on power and lay down the law of the land to rest. All South Sudanese people MUST rise tall, above, and beyond individual interest but against one man’s fascist rule and say enough is enough for them to enjoy peace, tranquility, and stability. May God help South Sudan!

Chuol Kompuok is a concern South Sudanese and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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