Khalid Al Mubarak
The Chairperson of JEM, Dr. Jibreel Ibrahim has written an article for Sudan Tribune (22 January 2013) “Khartoum’s Response will not eclipse the New Dawn Charter” to defend, justify and promote the controversial 5 January ’13 Charter known as the “New Dawn”, probably unaware that the chosen title is a translation of “Al Fajr Al Jadid” the Communist Party of Sudan theoretical magazine that has stopped publication in an indicative premonition of the fate of its English language Kampala namesake. The aim of the Kampala Charter is to overthrow the government of the Sudan and restructure the country along new parameters. There is no surprise in this, because manifestos to conquer Khartoum and remould the Sudan are as easy and frequent as giving up smoking by heavy smokers – they can be done and undone several times.
The best known was Dr. John Garang’s 1983 attempt to subdue Khartoum and redesign the country on a “socialist” footing. After years of bloodshed, destruction and suffering in both parts of the country, Dr. Garang’s SPLM/A accepted (albeit reluctantly) a compromise solution and a chance to build a New Sudan in one third of the country where the word “socialist” is taboo!
The Justice and Equality Movement was formed in response to genuine grievances. I was one of those who witnessed the declaration of JEM’s birth in Hanover, Germany on 30 August 2002 and like all those present did not object to the list of complaints made by Dr. Khalil Ibrahim. I and others did mention during the lunch break that the underdevelopment of Darfur was not a “conspiracy” but came as a result of remoteness, lack of transport and the fact that the civil war in the South forced the diversion of financial assets to the counterinsurgency battlefields. When I shared a panel of discussion with Dr. Jibreel Ibrahim on 12 August ’08 at Al Abrar Centre in London, I did not deny the grievances of Darfur. In several Arabic language articles, I have acknowledged the fact that Darfur had a history of sovereignty, governance and administration long before it was incorporated in the Sudan by the colonial administration in 1916.
The government of the Sudan has never denied that atrocities were committed in Darfur by all sides involved in the tribal conflict. Special courts are still busy trying those arrested. Reestablishing state control and law and order in a province the size of France is a tall order; but it has been addressed with the help of the African Union and the UN as well as other states and organizations.
Two statements are worth quoting. On 1 January 2010, J. Gettleman wrote from El Fasher to the New York Times quoting Eric Reeves one of the most prolific black-and-white critics of the Sudan as having said: “There is no doubt that violence has diminished significantly in the past two or three years – and many, including myself have been slow to recognize how significant this reduction has been. “Eric Reeves has now wisely shifted attention to the next target – South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.
|Dr. Jibreel Ibrahim|
The second significant quotation is from a top politician who in 2006 has openly called for the US to attack the Sudan militarily and was with the Clinton administration when a US missile destroyed Al Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum North 20 years ago. Addressing the Security Council Session on Climate Change on 20 July ’11, Dr. Susan rice (now President Obama’s ambassador to the UN) said: “Let us remember that in Sudan, a decade ago, drought and rapid desertification are widely thought to have contributed to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Darfur”. Those in JEM or other groups who still hope to see Darfur as the cause for US or UN military intervention in the Sudan, to overthrow the regime and hand them over power on a silver plate should wake up and think again. The signatories of the Kampala dawn-eclipse document seem to have fallen in the illusion against which the US Sudan critic Nicholas Kristof has warned in 2006. Answering his own title question “Should we talk about invading Sudan?” He went on to warn that such talk would “provide false hope to rebel groups that if they just hold out longer, they may get a lot of foreign military help and a much better deal.” These words were written during the trigger happy presidency of George Bush. They are more valid and relevant under a less adventurous president.
The Kampala charter by JEM and allies is doomed for several reasons.
First: The gathering was not held in any “liberated territory” inside the Sudan and not in any state that has got common borders with the Sudan.
Second: The forces that were either brought together or courted were all discredited politically and do not command credible support among the people. Dr. Turabi was the architect of the one party system and led it from 1989 to 2000. His call for democracy now is disingenuous to say the least. The lawyers say “he who comes into equity must come with clean hands”. The leader of the Popular Congress Party with whom JEM sympathises is out to undermine those who ousted him, put an end to the civil war which he stoked and started a process of democratization that has dismantled his one party legacy.
As for Mr. Farouk Abu Eisa, the system he apparently still believes in has dominated the USSR and Eastern Europe more than seventy years and has collapsed spectacularly. Does he dream of repeating the inadequacy of command economy in the Sudan? As for Sadiq Al Mahdi, nobody denies that he has got mass support; but he is a wise man, opposing violence to achieve reform or change of regime. It is not irrelevant to remember that AdbulRahman, Sadiq’s eldest son is now one of the assistants of President Bashir. Several parties and groups which signed the Kampala charter with Dr. Jibreel have now disassociated themselves from it.
Third: The Kampala Charter has not got the support of the USA, the EU or the AU. Even the Republic of Southern Sudan did not host the meeting on its territory. This is a great difference from the SPLM/A rebellion which received military as well as financial help from many quarters through the porous border with several neighbouring countries that provided a safe haven for fighters.
Fourth: The SPLM leaders who instigated the Bolad and Abdul Wahid rebellions (before JEM was formed) are now rulers in the Republic of South Sudan. They have not managed so far to establish a “show window” that is attractive enough for the masses of the people in the parent Republic of the Sudan to support Yasser Arman al Malik Agar of SPLM/N in order to bring about similar rule to that in the young neighbouring republic.
When I was a young student in East Germany, most of my German colleagues were attracted to the lights and wealth of West Berlin and West Germany. Many risked being shot in an attempt to cross the border. I admit that there is inflation now in the Sudan and that life is not easy; but I know very well that no sane Sudanese sees Juba as a high ideal.
After the assassination of Isaiah Abraham the southern Sudanese journalist Mading Ngor wrote in the Huffington Post (2 Feb 13) that “a prolific blogger critical of the government found a message tucked under his pillow from the Committee for operation “Restore Patriotism in South Sudan” threatening him with the fate of the late Isaiah Abraham. This is not a situation that invites emulation.
Furthermore, on the ground, Dr. Jibreel was in Kampala while his most senior lieutenants were in Doha finalizing an honourable session of negotiations with the government and mediators. This is a further consolidation for the Darfur Regional Authority, led by Dr. Tigani Seisi who was active in the opposition before saying “Enough is Enough” and opting for peace. Last week after some delay, the Sudan has paid his Authority $200million and preparations for a Donors’ Conference are underway. All grievances including compensation, justice and development have been addressed. Dr. Al Hag Adam is now an assistant to the president. Senior ministers including the Minister of Justice are from Darfur too. The weight of the West, the AU and the EU is behind the Darfur Regional Authority.
All scales are weighed against JEM and its Kampala allies and for peace and stability in Darfur. The time for adventures or “fireworks charters” is over, especially because the door has not been slammed in the faces of Dr. Jibreel and his dwindling numbers of colleagues. The wise politician is the one who realizes a lost cause when he sees one and, having opposed relentlessly, turns to peace wholeheartedly. His extended hand will be met with the warmth of welcome he deserves. The New Dawn Charter will be eclipsed by the geopolitical landscape in which it was declared.