The Three Questions – Interview with Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi (p33-52)

Beloved Imam Alsadig Almahdi President of the National Umma Party and Imam of Ansar Allah and the legitimate democratically elected Prime Minister of the Sudan



interview with Imam Alsadig Almahdi 2 feb 2009 from p33 to p52 the three questions






The Three Questions

Interview with Imam Al Sadig Al Mahdi


2nd Feb 2009


Q1: What is the Problem of Darfur and how to resolve it?

The crisis of Darfur is self‐inflicted by the present regime in Sudan. Its components are clear and simple. Efforts to resolve it have failed because they failed to make a proper diagnosis of the problem. Consequently, the solutions have been inadequate.

Before I deal with the diagnosis, I will lay down the basic elements of the prescription.

Elements of the Solution

They are:

(A) Before the June 1989 coup d’état, Darfur was one region, representing the western gate to the Sudanese state, and reflecting the historical inheritance of a proud and powerful Kingdom‐ something like Scotland in the United Kingdom. For party political reasons, it was divided into three regions. Its unity should be restored, without prejudice to the need to administer it in a decentralized structure. Darfur was represented in the sovereignty council of State. This privilege should be restored. Land tenure was under 16 tribal fiefdoms. This right was nationalized. This should be revoked. Darfur’s boundaries with other Sudanese regions were changed in a way unfavorable to it. So in these four aspects, the status quo ante should be restored.

(B) The Internally and Externally displaced victims of the armed conflict who now number in millions are entitled to the following rights:

  • They should be individually and collectively compensated for their losses.
  • They should be repatriated to their homes and whoever displaced them should be evicted, and their security guaranteed.
  • Whoever committed war crimes against them should be held accountable

(C) The peoples of Darfur are entitled to a share in National power, and wealth proportionate to their size of population.

  • A revision of the institutions of State is required to make them nationally representative.

(D) If and when such a program is accepted, there are numerous transition arrangements which should be implemented accordingly.
The following analysis elucidates the background, and explains the case.
History of Differences and Marginalization
Recent archeological discoveries have shown how the Sudan was home to the first urban dwelling, the first morally based religion, and the first alphabetical language.

After a little known ancient history, the Sudan witnessed six successive Civilizations:

  • The Kushite (2400 B.C‐ 1400 B.C).
  • The Meruitic From mid‐eighth Century B.C. to the fourth Century A.D.
  • The Christian kingdoms of Sudan from the sixth century A.D to the sixteenth. Namely; Kingdoms of Makouria (Maqurra), Alwa and Nobadia.
  • The Islamic kingdoms: Fur, Fung, Tagali, Musbaat, and Knuz. The five kingdoms were ethnically non‐Arab, but they were Moslems and used Arabic culture.

The Southern region which occupied the territory South 10° had a different history. It was incorporated into the Sudan only in three episodes: the Turko‐ Egyptian‐ period (1821‐1881), the Mahdist period (1881‐1899) and the Independent Sudan since 1956. As for the Anglo Egyptian period (1899‐1956), the British introduced the closed districts law which further enhanced the difference of Southern Sudan, to deliberately block Islamic and Arabic contacts, and cultivated a new Christian Anglophone identity. They planned for Southern Sudan to be part of Eastern Africa rater than have unity with Northern Sudan; this policy was changed only in the late forties of the twentieth century. This fact, among others, gave Southern Sudan a special character within the Sudan. The other Sudanese regions, especially DARFUR, also had their particularities.

The Central National State which succeeded the colonial period in 1956 failed to cater for these regional characteristics.

The modern economy in Sudan was introduced by the British.

It concentrated upon the production of cotton as a cash crop. The territories involved in cotton production and transport became the focus of Economic Development. Investments, social services and inputs, were concentrated upon the modern sector, and the rural and pastoral regions were neglected. The share of the sons and daughters of these regions in education and social services was limited. The centralized administration of the State, plus the imbalance in the distribution of economic benefits and social services created a gap and led to the phenomenon of marginalization.

Sudan witnessed three Democratic periods, and three coups created dictatorships since its Independence in 1956.

The complaint about marginalization received some attention during the Democratic periods. However they were short. The dictatorial periods spanned 80% of the time since 1956. They exercised maximum centralization and meted out greater marginalization to rural and pastoral regions. During the last Democratic regime (1986‐1989) Darfurians were well represented at all levels of government. The Region was united and under a regional government run by Darfurians. These privileges were taken away by the 1989 coup makers in their attempt to change the socio‐political fabric of the region in favor of their Partisan Islamicist Agenda.

How the Present Crisis Developed:

Darfurian particularities stem from the following facts:

(A) Darfur was an independent Monarchy until 1875. It became part of the Mahdist State, but resumed its independent status after the end of that State in 1899. It continued as an independent Sultanate until 1916 when the then colonial administration clashed with the last Sultan of Darfur because of his support for the Ottoman Sultanate during the First World War (1914‐1918). So Darfur joined the modern Sudan two decades after its creation by the colonial administration (1899‐1916).
(B) Tribal assertiveness is more pronounced in Darfur than the rest of Sudan. This fact explains the prevalence of tribal conflicts in the region. Twenty two tribes engaged in conflict and in the period just before the current crisis, (1924‐2003), thirty nine tribal reconciliation conferences were held.
(C) Resource based conflicts: The Northern parts of Darfur suffered from drought in the early eighties of last century. Some Northern tribes, therefore, migrated southwards. Many Camel owning tribes migrated towards Jebel Marra in central Darfur. Many Zagawa tribesmen migrated to Southern

(D) The region witnessed the phenomenon of armed robbery perpetuated by:

  • Some Zagawa tribesmen, who have suffered from the drought.
  • Some Arab tribesmen, who suffered from the drought.
  • Chadian tribes peoples, who have resorted to armed robbery to sustain themselves in troubled times.
  • The fall off from border wars particularly the Libya/Chad war, which led to much loose armory and the use of fire arms for private gain. The Sudan remained neutral between the Libyan Chadian combatants, but the conflict affected Sudan’s National Security.
  • Some tribal non‐Sudanese elements crossed the borders and engaged in armed robbery.

These four types of problems may be described as the traditional Darfur problems.

The Problems Created by the New 1989 Regime:

Before the new Regime, Darfur had a social immunity system, which was depended upon by the previous central Governments to contain local conflicts. However, the new regime realized that Darfurian society was hostile to it and supported the opposition Umma Party. Therefore, they planned to push the people of Darfur to their support in the following ways:
A) To increase the administrative units and man them by their own political officers to act as administrators, political agents and security officers. There were nine provinces in Sudan. They increased them to twenty six and called them States. The one Region of Darfur was divided into three States. The districts in Sudan were nineteen, they were increased to 674. Although these measures increased the administrative expenditures to a great extent, they provided employment for the political cadres of the ruling party and a means to win the support of others by offering them Government employment.
The system of Native administration, which as a means of indirect rule served the country well, was forced to join the ruling party, which automatically decreased their influence as no more than Government officials.

Land tenure was administrated by tribal chiefs over sixteen tribal territories (HAWAKEER). They were ‘Nationalized’ to be under direct central government authority .The government then proceeded to give rights to immigrant minority tribes to gain their support.

Forcing people to join the ruling party did not eliminate political competition.

The contenders for office simply used tribal and ethnic labels for their political ambitions.

B) Graduates of secondary education who could not proceed to higher education and graduates of universities who could not find employment have become so numerous especially after the Regime set up tens of new universities without sufficient resources, but with an ability to issue low quality degrees (the institutions which issue BA degrees now in Sudan number 78). This army of unemployed graduates simply swelled the ranks of discontent and either joined the armed protest movements, or sought and found resettlement as expatriate refugees.
C) The Islamicist party which organized the 1989 coup d’état used to criticize the Democratic government for not conducting the War against the Southern army robustly enough. They

  • Some tribes used arms as a means of livelihood.
  • Some groups among the Nomadic Arab tribes formed militant parties to attack and intimidate the settled cultivators to make room for their herds. They acquired the name Jingaweed which means armed “ginnis” on horseback. They targeted Fur, and Masalit settled tribes.
  • Some youths belonging to the targeted Groups saw how their kinsmen were attacked, and concluded that the government was failing to protect the victims. They formed armed political groups directed against the central government they called themselves Darfur liberation movement, and then Sudan liberation Army and Sudan liberation Movement (SLA/M) later another movement called itself Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Since then several armed groups with different labels emerged. They now number in tens. The emergence of armed political parties with ethnic roots and supported by internal and external alliances, is a new phenomenon in Sudanese politics – unprecedented.

D) The control of public affairs by one despotic party, and the denial of freedoms are a recipe for corruption because of the absence of participation, accountability, transparency and the rule of law. Corruption is the other side of the coin of dictatorship. Society in Darfur was shaken by the prevalence of corruption especially: The Western Highway. Sudanese regions are given sugar quotas. The people of Darfur were made to donate half their sugar quotas to finance the building of the western high‐way. The cost of the high way was estimated as US $240 Millions. The value of donated sugar was US $ 36 Millions per year. The government promised to supply the rest of the budget. Nothing materialized, and the corruption scandal remained to haunt the Regime.
E) The Regime governing the Sudan established itself by the force of arms and turned government into financial and political benefits. This pattern set an example to others to do the same.
The leaders of the coup encouraged this pattern by saying: ‘We have gained our position by force, whoever wants to govern, will have to over power us’.

They also said referring to negotiations with political groups: we do so only with those who are armed.

The policies of the Sudanese Regime, as described above, have led to the emergence of tribal and ethnic political groups. The prevalence of the culture of violence encouraged them all to espouse it.

Externally, the policies of the Regime, especially during its first ten years, formed lobbies against it: Christian, Zionist, anti‐slavery, Human right, lobbies in many countries. They have branded the Sudanese regime as a supporter of terrorism and a violator of Human and Religious rights.

They formed a wide umbrella to help its victims. They offered moral and material support for all who opposed the Regime. This type of hostile umbrella was an unprecedented phenomenon in Sudan’s external relations.

F) At that stage, the external policies of the Regime were expansionist, as articulated by the Islamic Arab popular congress which was a replica of Stalin’s Third International, under Islamicist banners (1993). Such expansionist policies rallied Sudan’s neighbors and other countries against


G) There are several tribal and ethnic differences in DARFUR. However they were relatively moderate. Many of the non‐Arab tribes have Arab sub‐sections including the Fur, the Zaghawa, and the Masalit. The tribal leaders of all the tribes were linked with intermarriages. Therefore, interethnic relations were relatively cordial: ALDIEN is the capital of the largest ARAB tribe in DARFUR‐ the Rizigat. In (1986) it elected a Zaghawa member of Parliament – Ahmed Abdel Gadir Habib. The Governor of DARFUR until June (1989) was from Fur: Dr. Tigani Sessi. He was nominated by the 34 Umma Members of Parliament who were Arab and non‐Arab. That was the situation until (1989).
Since then, the situation changed. The ideology of the late Dr. John Garang emphasized that the divide in Sudan in not North/South, but Arab/African. Therefore, his party proceeded to identify with the non‐Arab (African) ethnic groups in DARFUR. Many in the governing Regime identified with Arab ethnic groups. The power politics between the Sudanese Peoples liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congers Party (NCP) deepened the ethnic schism in DARFUR. The SPLM provided the DARFUR armed parties with an example to follow, and offered them moral and material support.

H) The ruling Party in Sudan, the NCP was very eager to gain the support of DARFUR. They reckoned that DARFUR is a potential source of support for their Islamicist program. Since the time of the Sultanate of DARFUR, it was known for its ISAMIC zeal. The support which DARFUR gave to the MAHDIST Cause was exceptional. Sultan Ali Dinar, the last Sultan of DARFUR sided with the Ottoman Khalifate during the First World War, for religious reasons. Such religious zeal prompted the NCP to recruit DARFUR in their support. They failed in that but got some limited support. When the NCP broke into two parties in (2000), the Cadres of Arab origin largely went with the NCP, the cadres of “African” origin sided with the breakaway Popular Congress (PC). They later formed JEM.
I) The SPLM continued its efforts to recruit “African” support in the Northern Sudan. They forged on alliance with the SLM/A.
J) The tensions between the Sudan Government and its neighbors translated into alliances between some of the neighbors and this or that of Sudanese rebel groups to cause greater pressures against the Sudan Government.
Those ten factors (from ‘A’ to ‘J’) have prepared DARFUR for violent political protest movements against the central Government, at the same time; the Regime’s policies weakened the Region’s politico‐social immunity system.

Regime’s Mistakes

When the Regime faced the DARFURIAN insurrection they committed several mistakes, they are:‐

First Mistake: Unnecessary Violence: The number of those who carried arms against the Government in the Gabal Mara area was limited. The then Governor of North DARFUR region, General Ibrahim Suleiman, convened an extraordinary conference in AL‐FASHIR, to which he invited a broad spectrum of DARFURIAN intellectuals, politicians, and tribesmen under the title AL‐FASHIR Consultation Conference (in 25/3/2003). That conference issued certain recommendations as a political response to the crisis. The central Government rejected them. The Government felt that they have given away too much in the North/ South negotiations, and that they needed to beef up the prowess of the Government to deter others from emulating the SPLM’s example, They also thought, that the International Community were so pleased with them that they will not risk the fate of the Peace Agreement because of the Government’s policies in DAFUR, initially, even some International actors gave them the promise of: end with Peace in the South and Darfur will be regarded as an internal issue, as would be mentioned later. So when some Government posts were attacked, the response was to teach the rebels a lesson.

“There will be no negotiations, no compromise, no prisoners and no wounded, the matter must be finished in two weeks”. The armed groups responded by attacking AL FASHIR airport in April (2003), destroying the Air Force planes parked in it and capturing its commander. It was clear that the Armed Forces of Sudan had no stomach for another Civil war. The protesters even addressed the soldiers as supporters in a common cause.

Second Mistake: Use of JINGAWEED: The Regime refrained from dealing with the matter as a potential National problem, and so inviting broad consultations about what is to be done?

The Regime sought to resort to the support of tribes from the opposite ethnic divide, the culprit tribes being the Fur the Zagawa and the Masalit. The main Arab tribes did not respond to this call, they distanced themselves from the armed conflict and said that they will only fight back if attacked. However, there are many detribalized youth who were recruited as irregular forces supporting the Sudanese Armed Force in their anti – insurrectionary drive. They were the forces which others celled “Jingaweed” recalling the old description. However, the old JINGAWEED was a private sector group. The later forces were public sector irregular forces in the service of the official anti‐insurrectionary policy. The armed rebels were employing a fast hit and run tactic. It was decided that the tribes which were a potential source of support for them should be intimidated to refrain form supporting their armed Kinsmen. They were targeted and accused of hosting the rebels. Resort to this type of military alliance, and the decision to target soft civilian tribal targets, constitute two basic mistakes. They led to terrorizing the targeted tribes, a measure which created the humanitarian tragedy in DARFUR.

In record time, about two millions fled their homes to become internally displaced citizens; hundreds of thousands became refugees in neighboring Chad. The IDPS and the refugees became a living exhibition narrating the tragic stories about war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Human Rights organizations and the satellite channels broadcasted the details.

Third Mistake: Failure to Tackle the International Folder: For quite some time the Sudan hosted a great deal of International and media presence: Humanitarian relief organizations, Human Rights organizations, groups concerned with the ongoing peace negotiations, agents of the International media. They have heard news about events in DARFUR and tuned in to find the facts.

Human Rights watch, Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group and many others discovered the facts and proceeded to unveil them, the International press, the satellite channels and the broadcasting stations, all have given DARFUR prime time coverage. Their efforts shocked world’s conscience. Even Western Governments which initially downplayed DARFUR not to shift the focus away from the North/ South peace process had to heed the mood. An American diplomat in Sudan had once said that DARFUR is an internal affair which the Sudan Government should settle i.e. without foreign intervention, had to swallow his words. The U.S Government told the Sudan Government that the issue of DARFUR becomes US priority. Although the Sudan Government had lost the public relations battle over DARFUR, they continued to downplay it, and to claim that the extent of atrocities, and the numbers of displaced people and of casualties were greatly exaggerated. They claimed that the whole issue was a conspiracy against the Regime. The Sudanese regime failed to realize:

  • The importance of the Humanitarian Relief Organizations in shaping International opinion.
  • The role of the network of Sudanese especially DARFURIAN expatriates in mobilizing DARFUR sympathetic sentiment.
  • The widespread lobbies which supported the cause of the South in the conflict, and which shifted its focus towards DARFUR when the North/ South peace negotiations approached the end.

These factors destroyed the credibility of the Sudanese regime. The regime did nothing proportionate to turn the tide.
International Intervention over DARFUR

In the case of DARFUR, international public opinion took the initiative, then States, and then the UN.
The secretary General of the UN visited Khartoum and DARFUR in July (2004). He visited the camps of IDPs, and the refugees. At the end of his visit he signed with the Sudan Government a four points’ Agreement (in 3/7/2004):

  • That the Government will comply with the terms of the cease fire agreement with the armed groups which was signed in April (2004).
  • That it will facilitate the requirements of the Humanitarian Relief Organizations.
  • That it will protect the civilians.
  • That it will disarm the Jingaweed within three months.

The terms of this agreement were incorporated in UNSC resolution 1556. This Agreement was not preceded by any preparations. The driving motivations for it were: The secretary General’s eagerness to satisfy public opinion that he did something substantial for DARFUR, and the Sudan Government’s eagerness to improve its image. Any serious preparation would have shown that the fourth point was beyond the Government’s capability.

I asked a UN official how they accepted such nonsense. He said we were surprised by the Government’s commitment, but it was up to them to decide!

It was later decided that the responsibilities which the Sudan Government could not do, namely, the protection of civilians and the disarmament of the irregular forces; will be undertaken by African Union Forces. The Security and Peace Council of the African Union delegated its President, ALFA OMAR KONARI to draw a plan for the formation and responsibilities of this African force. The plan was endorsed by the UN in Resolution 1564 to charge the African Union with responsibilities which the Sudan Government could not handle.

It became clear that the Sudan Government had no strategy in the matter.

So we find that some Government officials accept resolutions 1556 and 1564, another official rejects them, a third official describes them as a virtual declaration of war against the Sudan. Such lack of direction appeared when the High Commission for Refugees visited the Sudan and suggested a Regional Government for DARFUR. An official accepted it. Another official rejected that. Again it was suggested that UN should be responsible for security in DARFUR. An idea endorsed by one official and rejected by another. There is a lack of strategy, and specific policy to deal with the UN over DARFUR.

The Arab league has shown the same short sightedness in dealing with ARAB problems. They say we support Sudan, meaning support the Government of Sudan. Instead the league should be able to advise the Government how to reach out to the opposition, and how to deal with the Security Council in ways which serve the National interests of Sudan.

Umma Party’s Attempts to resolve the crisis:

The Umma Party, which has wide support in Darfur, and which was deliberately forced to take no part in the solution of the problem, has nonetheless made persistent efforts to point towards what should be done:

In June (2002) we called for a meeting of all the DARFURIANS across the political board, we stated that what was brewing in DARFUR was a serious crisis which requires a concerted National effort to resolve it. Members of the NCP who attended the meeting were skeptical and declared that the Government was alone capable of resolving the matter. However, we proceeded to set up a National forum for DARFUR. Three times we dispatched delegations to the three Regions of Darfur to advise the people not to engage in the armed conflict, and to declare that we believe there are substantial legitimate demands for Darfur which we will use political and civil pressure to realize.

On March (2003) we actually formed a Darfur National Forum to act as a work force to advocate for a political solution, and to follow up upon Humanitarian Relief efforts. Then we organized a workshop to spell out what needs to be done. Since then the terms for an Agreement were established. The Government even responded in June (2004) to our initiative and signed a roadmap to address the problem of Darfur with us. But, they proceeded to apply their partisan policies to the neglect of that road map. We then proceeded to advocate our case for Darfur, on (22/8/2004) we sent a letter to president Obasango of Nigeria, as the then Mediator, suggesting the basis for the solution. We proceeded to advocate the terms of settlement in conferences and press interviews. Our prescription then was as follows:

  • Confidence building measures which begin by changing all the administrative setup in Darfur because they have became part of the problem; to appoint a National commission to investigate the atrocities to hold the culprits accountable and to compensate the victims and to form a National Council to coordinate relief activities.
  • To convene a National Conference to be attended by all the political parties, all the parties to the armed conflict all representatives of Darfur Civil society, and representatives of the Darfurian Diaspora and tribal chiefs. That conference was to discuss a six points Agenda, namely; political, economic, administrative, security, tribal and social services. The conference was to be held in an agreeable venue with our neighbors and the International Community attending as observers.
    The ideas fell on deaf‐ears as far as the Regime is concerned. Therefore the Umma Party declared that the regime is not prepared to resolve Darfur.
    We proceeded to mobilize National and International support for our ideas.


The Regime’s Attempts for Solution

The 2004 Darfur Committee: To twist the wind away from our initiative, the Regime did appoint a committee in February (2004) and called it a National body. It was no more than a partisan body dominated by the ruling party.

The 2004 Tribal Conference: On September 2004 the government convened a tribal conference to address the crisis. Such tribal conferences were effective in the past. However, they are no longer effective because:

– The tribal chiefs have been forced to join the ruling party and so they lost their clout.
– The armed movements are manned by politicized detribalized elements that do not recognize the authority of the tribal chiefs.
– Also there are parties with links to the groups engaged in the conflict who use their links in the power struggle in Khartoum.
– Some of Sudan’s neighbors pull strings to influence some of the conflicting parties.
– There are also factors related to a three cornered cold war between USA, France, and China.
Therefore, the old pattern of tribal conferences is no longer viable.

Cease‐fire Agreements: On April 2004, the Government signed a cease fire Agreement with the parties of the conflict. Hoverer, all Cease‐fire Agreements have failed because there is no political accord. In all these encounters the Government delegation gives priority to the cessation of hostilities whereas the armed parties give priority to a political settlement.

Peace Negotiations: Mediation efforts ultimately succeeded in holding peace negotiations in ABUJA in May 2006. Although our party was continuously kept out of these deliberations, the chief Government negotiator, the late Magzoub Al Khalifa, visited me to ask for advice as he was proceeding to ABUJA. I said to him as a ‘politician’ I should not help you; but as a patriot I should. There are three requirements which if you comply with, you will reach a viable Agreement which gain wide National support including our own support. What are they, he asked? I replied:

o In the case of the Region one or three, and in the issue of representing Darfur in the presidency, and in the case of the Tribal land tenure, and in the issue of the borders of Darfur with the other regions of Sudan, you must restore the status quo ante, i.e., the situation as it existed in June 1989.
o In the case of the internally displaced people and the refugees, they are entitled to individual and communal compensation. They must be voluntarily repatriated to their homes, and their security there guaranteed.
o In the issue of shares in power and wealth, the same formula applied in the Agreement with the South should prevail, i.e., shares proportional to the size of population.
He responded by saying that this is not acceptable because it counters the Regime’s fundamental policies, and it runs counter to the Nivasha peace Agreement. I said to him you may keep your sacred cows, but you will not get an Agreement.

They were encouraged by the U.S mediators to keep their sacred cows and that International and African pressure will force the armed factions to concur. Mr. Robert Zullick championed that promise. It was a false promise. After all the arm twisting and threats, an Agreement which was designed to be signed by two parties with the Government was signed by only half a party on May 2006.


Since then things got worse in all aspects. The half a party, which signed the Agreement was promised to own all the benefits designed for the full two parties. A promise which could not be fulfilled leading to its frustration and exposure to break up in factions.

There were great efforts to get the non‐signatories to sign. However, they refused and proceeded to organize a front of resistance. They managed to carry the insurrection eastwards to KORDOFAN. The Sudan Government believes that unless neighboring CHAD forms a pincer siege of Darfur armed parties, the insurrection cannot be contained because, the perpetrators can always seek sanctuary in CHAD.

Attempts to destabilize the Chadian Regime and put in place a friendly Government failed. The last one being mounted in February 2008.

However, these attempts have provoked Libya which opposes any attempts to meddle in Chad behind their backs. A concerted counter attack against Khartoum was mounted by JEM which was supported by Chad, Libya, and Eritrea. They fully armed and financed, the attack on Khartoum on 10th May 2008.

So the Darfur problem has turned, among other things, into a duel for Regime change between Khartoum and N’Djamena. To add to the complexity of the situation, the armed factions have continued to divide amoeba‐like to reach more than twenty. To add more to the complexity, the three best known armed leaders, namely, Meni Arkoy Menawi, Abdel Wahid Mohammad Nur, and Khalil Ibrahim have each allied himself with a Government and taken an irreconcilable position: Meni insists on being the only beneficiary of the Abuja Agreement and demanding the Sudan Government to fulfill its promises. Khalil integrated his position with the Chad regime and he insists upon being sole spokesman for Darfur. Abdel Wahid took the unprecedented step of linking with Israel and claiming to be the sole spokesperson too. All attempts to get out of the impasse in Abuja, in Sirt, in Tanzania, have failed.

Recent Initiatives

Of late, two further initiatives; one National and one Regional have appeared.

The Latest National initiative:

After the September 2007 crisis between the NCP and the SPLM, they decided to open up dialogue with the other political parties which they have previously systematically locked out of the political process. Negotiations between the Umma party and the NCP led to an agreement of National Accord. Its terms are to guarantee basic freedoms, to develop the peace Agreement to be owned nationally, to settle Darfur by responding positively to the legitimate demands of the Darfurians, to hold free and fair General Elections, and to convene an all party National Conference to agree upon a National Program and upon a national mechanism to implement that program.

The invasion of Khartoum, plus the looming Qatari initiative for Darfur gave the issue of Darfur added impetus. This precipitated the so‐called Sudanese people initiative.

A meeting of several political parties was held in the district of KENANA in the period 16‐20 October 2008. The meeting formed seven committees to address the different Darfur problems. However, the Umma Party introduced a resolution which was unanimously adopted to give priority to Darfur, but not to neglect the other issues of the National Accord.

The seven committees reported their recommendations to plenary meeting in Khartoum. The recommendations were acceptable as only partial responses to the Darfurian demands. A representative of the Umma Party read out what amounted to an elaboration to address all the Darfurian demands. Some in the NCP rejected the additions, but ultimately a resolution was unanimously carried to accept the Umma Party additions. That was on the 10th of November 2008.

However, when the resolutions of the Sudanese People’s Initiative were read out in the final session of the encounter, the Umma additions have mysteriously disappeared. Although the conference only discussed whether Darfur should remain divided into three regions or its unity restored, it was declared that two additional states will be established. The whole exercise is, therefore, futile. What emerged cannot by any credible sense be described as the Sudanese Peoples initiative on Darfur.

The Qatari Initiative:

So far, this initiative received Arab league, African union and international blessings.

However, it is not clear yet whether it will avoid the pitfalls which led to the failure of all previous attempts, they are:

(A) They rush into arranging meetings before they make a proper diagnosis of the situation. Such a comprehensive diagnosis cannot be avoided if we are to describe the right prescription.
(B) They come shackled with the ceilings of the NIVASHA and the ABUJA agreements. Such ceilings preclude any serious positive response to the legitimate demands of Darfur.
(C) They assume that stakeholders in Darfur are the ruling party and the armed parties. They are all rebels and there is a legitimate representation of Darfur. An Agreement between the combatants is necessary but not sufficient.
(D) Attempts to unite the armed factions are hopeless because they have been scattered by personal, ethnic, and other factors which tend to make them more and more factious. However, there is now a clear Darfur Agenda which could unite them in aim if not unite their ranks.
(E) No meaningful Agreement could be reached without the involvement of all Sudan’s neighbors.

It seems that before the Qatari initiative gets underway, a Qatari based organization, the Arab Democratic Foundation, is embarking upon a conference to act as a think‐tank for the initiative. The conference is scheduled to be held next March.

This is a proper start because it could help avoid the pitfalls which derailed all previous attempts.

Some people are not interested in resolving the Darfur crisis because they see it as a lever for regime change in the Sudan. Regime change in the Sudan could and should come as soft not crash landing, because crash landing, even if it is possible, given Sudan’s present circumstances will lead to SOMALI scenario for the Sudan. The country now hosts more than fifty armed factions. The ruling party, which may through soft power be overpowered, will in other circumstances be able to fight for its interests. The mushroom growth of armed contenders will not allow a meaningful process of political evolution to develop. In the circumstances DARFUR has suffered so much that its tormented peoples must be allowed to come back from hell.

The Way Forward

The following declaration of principles is the way forward:

1. As far as the unity of the region, the participation in the presidency, the region’s borders, and the issue of land tenure, the status quo ante 30th June 1989 should be restored.
2. To mete out accountability, SC. Resolutions 1591 and 1593 should be implemented.
3. A mechanism for transitional justice should be established.
4. Individual and community compensations for the victims should be supplied.
5. The status of the region to be genuinely federal with constitutional guarantees for its powers. Meanwhile, a transitional administration with non‐partisan i.e. technocrats credentials should be established.
6. To acknowledge the principle that the region’s share in power and wealth will be according to population size.
7. All national institutions will be restructured to guarantee their reflection of the composition of the Sudanese population.
8. to give the Agreement an all‐Darfur legitimacy, an all‐Darfur Conference should be convened to endorse it
9. A National Conference to be held to give the Accord National legitimacy, and to resolve to apply its basic principles to the other regions of Sudan.
10. A Regional Conference involving Sudan and all its neighbors to be held to reach a regional security pact which will chart the rights and duties of all to establish Regional Security and cooperation between all members.


Question 2: What is the ICC crisis and how to face it?

Principal Positions towards the ICC: Our position as Umma Party, since the nineties of last century was supportive of the creation of the International Criminal Court as a mechanism to mete out the justice in crimes which National laws do not criminalize and/or national circumstances do not permit.

GOS Position: Likewise, the Sudan Government participated in a Human Rights conference in (1993) in Vienna, the conference issued three recommendations one of which called for the establishment of an International Criminal Court.

The Security Council passed Resolutions to establish special courts to try the crimes committed in Yugoslavia (1993) and another for Rwanda (1994). They were both supported by the Government of Sudan.

In the period between (1995) and (1998) and so as to implement the Vienna recommendations, the Government of Sudan (GoS) participated in the discussions to establish the ICC.

On 15th June, and 17th July (1998), (GoS) participated in the conference in Rome to set up the court. The conference appointed a drafting committee of 25 countries. Sudan was represented by two senior members: Awad Alhasan Alnur, and Abdalla Ahmed Mahadi.

The result of the final voting to set up the court was 120 States for it including Sudan, 21 States abstained and seven States opposed: USA, China, Israel, Iraq and others.

On (8/9/2000) Sudan signed the Statute of Rome.

On (22/12/2004), a seminar was organized in Khartoum jointly by the Geneva Human Rights Institute, and the International Alliance in Support of the ICC, and the Sudanese Bar Association, I attended the seminar which recommended that the Sudan ratify the Statute of Rome. The then minister of justice of (GoS) was present, and he endorsed the recommendation.

The ICC in Sudan

After an extensive visit to Darfur region in June (2004), we the Umma Party declared that there are war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur and that we should appoint a neutral commission to investigate and bring the criminals to justice, and compensate the victims. Failing that, we said that the international community will be obliged to intervene. This warning was ignored.

As expected on 18th September 2004, the SC passed Resolution 1564 to form a committee to investigate the Darfur crimes. They visited Darfur and presented their findings to the Security Council on 31st January 2005. On 31st March 2005, the SC passed Resolution 1593 to transfer the Darfur crimes to the ICC.

The Sudan Government initiated a parallel process. Its title betrays an inadequate commission: “commission to investigate alleged Human Rights crimes committed by the armed factions in Darfur” i.e. it does not include the abuses of officials who in Sudanese law have immunity from prosecution in the conduct of their official duties.
Nevertheless, it did report on 8th May 2005, two months after Resolution 1593 which referred the matter to the ICC.

This parallel process led to investigations and prosecutions of certain individuals, but the credibility of the process is wanting. It appeared not to be a genuine attempt at responsibility to protect, but an effort to avoid the outcome of Resolution 1593.

The International Report on the Darfur crimes passed judgment on the lack of independence of the Sudanese judicial system. There is no doubt that the Sudanese Regime did tamper with the judicial system according to its partisan totalitarian control.

The 2007 ICC Indictments

On 6th of June (2005), the prosecutor of the ICC Mr. Luis Moreno Campo started his investigation for the court.

In the period 17‐24 November, officials of the ICC visited the Sudan, and in (2006) Campo himself visited the Sudan and met with some officials who promised cooperation with him, After his investigations he indicted two Sudanese citizens‐ one of them a minister of State (2007).

The Sudanese Government is aware of article 13(B) which authorizes the Security Council to refer cases to the ICC under chapter seven of the UN charter. It is also aware of articles 27 and 28 which waived immunity in the case of war crimes from officials.

This legislation plus the fact that National laws do not deal with war crimes, and the doubt about the independence of the Sudanese judiciary, are the reasons why the case was referred to the International Criminal Court. However, the ruling party (NCP) rejected Resolution 1593, and rejected the indictment of the two citizens and entered into a slinging match with the prosecutor of the ICC. The indicted minister was even promoted, committing another breach in the eyes of the prosecutor: protecting an accused person.

Indicting the President

On 14th July (2008), the prosecutor raised the level of clash by requesting the pre‐trial Chamber to indict the Head of State in Sudan for war crimes. There are many doubts about the propriety of this move, namely, he charged him with genocide, although the International Commission of Investigation stopped short of that; he went public on the matter before the chamber’s decision, and he engaged in a quasi political advocacy of his position.

Moreover, events within the administration of his office throw doubts about his judgment.

GOS Current Position

The behavior of the GoS is questionable, they are members of the U.N and although the system is replete with double standards, they are the custodians of International Law until the system is reformed, towards greater justice. They systematically downplay the extent of atrocities committed in DARFUR and portray the whole matter as conspiracy against the Islamicist Regime. If the NCP continues with this position even after the pre‐trial chamber issues an indictment to the head of state in Sudan, the country will be in for great trouble. The inevitable scenario is as follows:

(A) The “Government of National Unity” which is a very fragile institution will break up because some of its members‐ the SPLM and the SLA‐ will not support the NCP position.

(B) The NCP will enter into confrontation with the UN system which has troops under chapter seven in the Sudan. This confrontation has a wide destructive potential.

(C) Some Sudanese citizens will be so happy with the indictment, others will be so angry, and the two sections of Sudanese society may clash with serious consequences.

(D) Some elements internal and external may use the event for Regime change. Elements in the Regime will resist such change. The ensuing chaos will draw into the country external perpetrators of violence to combat what they see as the designs of the Zionists and the Crusaders.

(E) Established Peace Agreements which are already fragile will suffer. Future Peace negotiations for DARFUR will cease.

The Consequences

Rejection of Resolution 1593 and refusal to deal with the I.C.C is catastrophic.

It leads to the following:

(A) An endorsement of impunity and abdication of the responsibility to Protect (R2P).
(B) Arrest of the development in International Criminal justice and all the welcome reassurance that war criminals will be held accountable.
(C) The possibility that the crisis will be turned into opportunity for reform will disappear.
(D) The leverage potential to raise the seriousness about DARFUR and the end of complacency about its predicament will evaporate.
(E) The victims of the war crimes with substantial external support may seek revenge by other means.

Therefore, the Umma Party has eschewed both positions (indicting the current head of state or refusing to deal with the ICC and rejecting resolution 1593). We call for a scenario which accepts resolution 1593 accepts the mandate of the ICC and seeks a program within its statue.

If the head of state in Sudan is indicted, we call for the following response:

(A) To advocate a cool and measured reaction to avoid any irresponsible developments.

(B) To call for the establishment of a hybrid court composed of qualified Sudanese judges, African judges, and Arab judges, all to deliberate in a special court formed by a special Act. The court will be authorized to apply international criminal law. So much for the legal response.
(C) The political response should focus on reform to expedite an already planned reform whose particulars are:

  • Settlement of the problem of Darfur which would endorse the just demands of the Darfurians without any shackles from previous agreements.
  • Guarantee Human Rights and basic freedoms.
  • Review of the current peace agreements to own them nationally.
  • Holding free and fair general elections as a means of soft landing change.
  • Establishment of a genuine National unity Government to implement the National program.


Question 3: What is expected of the new American administration? And what role for the International community in the Darfur solution and in the two aspirations of the Sudanese peoples; namely, Just and comprehensive peace and Democratic transformation?

I will start by the second question first, i.e. the role of the International Community in the Darfur solution.

The International Community’s Positive Role

A far as Darfur is concerned, the International community is responsible for highlighting the issue, and for galvanizing Security Council attention. Their efforts helped with the cease fire agreements, and with the establishment of UNMIS, and UNAMID, whose functions in observation and other matters are well appreciated. The International Community must be credited for the massive humanitarian relief effort mounted in the South and in Darfur. The International Community played a major role in the pursuit of accountability.

The Negative Role

However, the International Community did not always live up to its promises. UNAMID still suffers from shortage of equipment, and finance. The mandates of the missions were not so adequate. Their relations with the Government were confused which led to some paralysis in their performance. The relations between the missions and Sudanese political and civil societies are neither systematic nor continuous. However, the most important drawback in the role of the International Community was their acceptance of a flawed formula for peace making in the Sudan. In 1995 all opposition forces, including the SPLM stated that the problems of Sudan are National, and should not be viewed in terms of North/ South. We stated that in terms of sharing wealth and power, religious and cultural plurality, decentralization of Government and administration, and the problems of marginalization, Sudan’s problems are National and call for a National Solution. The IGAD mediators thought otherwise, and so they accepted the notion that the problem was exclusively North/ South, and should be resolved in such terms, this was also the recommendation of the February 2001 US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) which conceived Sudan’s problems exclusively in North/South terms. That was the preferable analysis for the GOS. Unfortunately, the SPLM, which knew better, went along with this conception. The two Sudanese negotiators, therefore, conducted their peace talks on the basis of three mistaken assumptions, namely:

  • That the problem was exclusively North/ South.
  • That the GOS represented the whole North, and the SPLM represented the whole South.
  • That Agreement between the two basically rebel forces, would be described as Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The International Community should know better. However, because they were eager for a quick fix to satisfy their home lobbies that the South has been rewarded, and peace in Sudan has been established, they rushed to peace ceremonies, and self‐congratulation. What they reached did realize so many benefits including the cessation of North/ South hostilities. However, many problems related to the wrong assumptions remained to haunt the agreement. The rush towards a quick fix left many points of ambivalence in the Agreement. The description of CPA meant that there was no room left for further peace deals. This effectively blocked the way for a meaningful Darfur Agreement.

The International Community needs to take stock of all this and be prepared for revisiting the CPA not to take away Southern benefits, but to do justice to the other Regions as well. There is a need for a universalized approach to peace making in Sudan.

The Required Measures

The International Community should help that process by supporting the following measures:

  • A realistic declaration of principles for peace in Darfur which are not shackled by previous Agreements.
  • An all Darfurian Comprehensive Conference to spell out a Peace Agreement for Darfur.
  • An all party National conference to give the Agreement National legitimacy, and to generalize its benefits towards other Regions.
  • A security Conference involving Sudan and all its neighbors to reach an Agreement of security and cooperation.

The all party Sudan conference would be the mechanism for:

  • The desired Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
  • A program for Democratic Transformation. Democratic transformation should involve the guarantee of Human Rights and basic freedoms and holding General elections to ensure the peaceful transfer of power. Free General elections involve, among other things, that they are administered by an independent commission, the elimination of the instruments of totalitarian control and internal and International mechanisms of observation. It is necessary that such mechanisms be specified and set up before the elections and enabled to function.
  • The establishment of a National Government authorized to realize the twin aspirations of just comprehensive peace, and Democratic transformation.

The present conflicts and contradictions may make the Sudan a failed state. Africa, the Arab world, the Muslim world, indeed the whole World should help the Sudan avoid that fate. A failed state in Sudan will have catastrophic consequences in all directions.

What Can America Do?

Here, I wish to address the question about what is expected of the new American administration.

The election of Obama by itself is the greatest public relations revolution in favor of the United States. It is pregnant with numerous positive signals. The slogan of change in the background of the catastrophic Bush eight years was the most charismatic signature tune ever adopted.

It is now incumbent upon the new administration to live up to the expectations of this Washington Spring, and not to squander this historic opportunity.

The first good news in this respect is to be quite transparent about the mistakes which caused the World to view its greatest state as an outlaw:

1.  In the first place, there are the numerous International conventions, and protocols, which are so essential for good world Governance, and which America opposed, namely, the Kyoto Protocol, The International Criminal Court, The prohibition of many types of weapons, and so on. America must recognize these mistakes and promptly rectify them.
2. The Islamic World was so unjustly dealt with:

(A) All aspects of Islamic extremism had a history of American links during the Cold War. So many of the violent extremist groups were born in the cradle of Afghanistan during the war with the USSR. Extremist violent trends are all related to some form of injustice, domination and occupation. During the Soviet occupation, they were directed against them. The war against Taliban was initially justified, because they hosted a group which declared war against USA. The situation now is different. Taliban has become the spearhead of a liberation movement. The attempts by NATO to suppress them will fail. The only rational course is to negotiate with them to free Afghanistan on condition it does not host groups who declare war on America.
(B) The handling of Iran is another case which requires review. Iran is entitled to acquire nuclear technology for civil purposes. The deal being offered to Iran misses the point. Iran is offered certain economic benefits, but is being threatened by being labeled axis of evil, while America announces its policy of unilateralism and preemption. What is needed here is to reassure Iran about its security. The whole issue of WMD must be approached through collective security and not double standards.
(C) The majority of Muslims are peace loving and wish to engage in building world peace. However, the Muslims are marginalized and exploited. It is necessary to address these grievances to stem the tide of extremism.

Over all issues concerning the world of Islam, America needs to listen to representatives of genuine Muslim social forces, before embarking upon its new policy towards them.

3. Africa: The African continent is the most devalued section of the human race. Obama is poised to redress this to beef up the image. It is true that much of the present African trouble is self inflicted. Bush’s polices towards sub‐Saharan Africa were relatively benevolent.
There are three specific aspects which the new U.S administration could espouse:

  • To enforce a regime of good behavior upon the multinational companies.
  • To establish developmental relations upon trade and investment not aid.
  • To help with the major health problems especially Malaria and AIDS.
  • For the major polluter in the planet – the USA – to compensate the sufferers in Africa by a real campaign against desertification.

4. The Arab world: Here the USA has so much to answer for:

In Palestine, the Arabs have been made to pay for the crimes that others committed against the Jews.

A. The U.S must make it crystal‐clear that its support of Israel does not include support for Israel’s conquests. So long as Israel expands into Palestinian and other Arab territories, the owners of those territories have got the right to resist. Israel has the right of self‐ defense within its borders, not as an occupier of other people’s territories.
B. U.S invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression whose consequences the U.S must promptly disentangle itself from.
C. The U.S support for the July 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon was a major blunder. Taliban, Hamas, Hizb Allah and other similar organizations are genuine resistance movements to

D. The Sudan: In the Sudan, U.S policy was supportive of peace agreements and should be credited with what has been achieved so far. However, the USA gave uncritical support for the very faulty assumptions which we have detailed above. The Naivasha Peace Agreement did not establish comprehensive peace, as it claimed. The USA must say it loud and clear, the combatants’ agreement is necessary to stop war, it is not sufficient to build peace. The USA must associate itself with efforts to review the Peace Agreement to make it really viable and really comprehensive. The USA must associate itself with efforts to make the agreement a real vehicle of Democratic Transformation instead of the prevailing lip service to Democracy.
E. It was wrong for the USA to support the futile effort to settle the problem of Darfur under the ceiling of the Naivasha Peace Agreement. The effort simply produced the born dead Darfur Peace Agreement.
F. The visible support of USA for one party, the SPLM, and hostility to the other party the NCP, both of whom are bound by the Peace Agreement to cooperate, subverted that cooperation and contributed in no small way to the setback of the Peace Agreement.
G. The fact that America decided to apply sanctions to some regions of the Sudan and exempt others was a most ill advised decision with many negative signals.
H. Finally, it is necessary for USA to listen to the Sudanese representatives of genuine social forces before embarking about the promised change of U.S policy in Sudan.

In a previous section, we have suggested what the International Community could do to help the peoples of Sudan help themselves. The USA should play the leading role in directing the international community to that end. America has a golden unique opportunity to make powerful first impression and lead the way. There will be no second chance to make a first impression.