Sudan Update

Sept. 1994

Sudan Update

This misgiving is made up to seven points

First Point :

There are fourteen types of Human Rights violations in the Sudan to-day. they are:

1- Summery trials and executions.

2- Unfair trails of political dissidents.

3- Periods of imprisonment without trial.

4-Psychological and physical torture of dissidents.

5- Continuous harassment of nonsupporters.

6- Periodic interrogations.

7- Daily summons for days on and for citizens to meet security people.

8- Restriction of travel.

9- Character assassination of dissidents.

10- Interception of private correspondents.

11- Mass sacking of politically unwanted persons in the civil service and                        armed forces.

12- Intimedation of dissidents and their relatives and friends.

13- Unlawful confiscation of the property of dissidents.

14- Financial and economic pressure on those who oppose the regime.

Those violations of Human Rights buttressed by a total denial of basic freedoms: of conscience , of speech, of association, and of travel …etc.

This is the standard position in all despotic regimes, in the Sudan the effect is made worse by two factors:

* The violations are meted out in the name of religious righteousness.

* The country has experienced periods of genuine respect for Human Rights, basic freedoms and tolerance. And so the people feel and see the difference more actually.

Dictatorship has some times tried to sell its oppressiveness by claiming to realize a state of better security and better economic conditions. However, in the Sudan to-day the necessities created by economic want have plunged the country into unprecedented levels of lawless and immoral behavior. Thefts, robberies, moral and social corruption have pervaded the country.


The regime prided itself on better agricultural performance. The figures available from bank of Sudan, Ministry of finance, Ministry of trade, Ministry of industry and other official sources have shown that for the four years of Democracy (1985-89) and the first four dictatorship years (1989-93) agricultural production for the democracy years has exceeded agricultural production for the dictatorship years in all cash and food corps except for wheat. They have shown that industrial production for the democracy years exceeded industrial production for the dictatorship years except for sugar.

The miserable performance of the economy plus the termination of international economic cooperation and the perverse economic priorities of the regime have combined to mutilate livelihood conditions. Here are some examples:

* Bread was 15 piasters a loaf in 1989, it is 35 pounds now. A1600% increase.

* Sugar was 125 piasters a pound, it is 100 pounds now, A 24000% increase.

*Meat was 18 pounds a kilo of beef. It is now 1000 pounds. A 5000% increase      And so on…..

The increased prices of imported products could be measured by the free market price of the US. Dollar. This rose from 12 pounds per dollar in June 1989 to nearly 500 pounds to-day, 3500% increase. Meanwhile increases in salaries and wages have ranged between 300% to 800%. The result of this development is that no salary or wage earner can hope to cover more than 10% of his or her household necessities.

In an apparent response to the creation of a market economy the regime now dismantled the welfare state in the Sudan. So free education, free health care, subsidized prices of basic consumer goods have been terminated. However the savings from those measures have not gone to cut government deficits, nor to finance investments, but to finance the requirements of  the police state and the war in the South .

The ethnic, cultural and religious plurality of Sudanese Society has always called for a moderate regional and international foreign policy. The adventurist and doctrinaire nature of the present regime plunged the Sudan into axis policies and exploits detrimental to its security and development.

When this regime came to power, the Sudan had a viable modern State and a thriving civil society: A Neutral Civil Service, a National armed forces, an independent Judiciary, a free trades-union movement, autonomous social and economic institutions. This regime dismantled the modern state and prostrated civil society.

Historical conditions have made Islam in the Sudan integral to its body-politic. Islam in Sudan was introduced and developed peacefully. As it spread its roots it acquired a high degree of tolerance while remaining faithful to the basic principles of  Monotheism, Justice, and social integration. As a result of conflict, the majority of Sudanese Muslims have realized the need to effect a great compromise with their non-Muslim fellow citizens to create peace and to save the country’s unity, the present regime distanced itself from all that and introduced a partisan type of  Islamic assertion born in strained contexts of secular-religious conflicts in Egypt, and inter-religious conflicts in India. Contexts which bequeathed activist Muslim groups with despotic and terrorist characteristics, those experiences are totally alien to Islamic experience in the Sudan and indeed alien to the authentic principles of  Islam itself.

The presentation of Islam as a creed which is despotic when it rules and terrorist when it opposes, is the greatest disservice to Islam made by  the present regime. When this regime came to power, there was a viable peace program. They demolished it and substituted a dialogue of the deaf for it! The peace talks they engaged in at Addis in 1989, at Nairobi in 1990, at Abuja One in 1992, at Abuja Two in 1993 and at Nairobi One, Two and Three in 1994, could not move towards peace because the Regime is constrained by NIF programs. They are the programmes of a pressure group which built its constituency on a single issue (Islamic assertion) and a single means to realize it-compulsion.

The first point is a stock taking of the costs to the Sudan of the ” Salvation Regime”.


Second Point :


Many thinkers , writers, and statesmen in the west have given Democracy in the Sudan scant appreciation. Many have seen the socio-economic underdevelopment of the country, the pervasive illiteracy and so on as effective obstacles to Democratic efficacy. It is true Democracy and indeed all aspects of modernization face an uphill struggle in the Sudan. However, the alternatives to Democracy in Sudan had an even worse record.

In its modern history, Sudan had experienced three Democratic systems of government and three autocratic ones. The three democratic systems have developed from good to better, whereas the three autocratic systems deteriorated from less bad to worse. The rising curve of Democracy and the falling curve of autocracy suggests political growth and development. A study of performance of the six regimes supports the following conclusions:

* All the signs of health and growth in the national economy have been associated with the democratic system.

* All the attempts to resolve the civil-war peacefully have been undertaken during the years of democracy.

* The second autocracy built on the peace proposals achieved during the second Democracy as outlined by the resolutions of the round table conference, the twelve Man committee and the all party conference, and reached agreement with Anyanya One. However, the peace agreement of 1972 was soon broken by the autocrat to be replaced by an even worse civil conflict. So, the net result of the effort of the second autocracy was a deeper and more pervasive civil war.

* All the political developments within the political parties, and the steps towards maturity within trade unions have been associated with the democratic systems.

* All tendencies towards internal and external financial imbalances have been associated with the autocratic systems. The same is true for all the other parameters of  economic decline viz., growth of the external debt, and sharp decline in the value of the Sudanese pound.

* All the tendencies at adventurism and alignment in Sudan’s external relations have emerged in times of autocracy.

* All civil wars in Sudan have started in times of autocracy. The dates 1963, 1975,1983 and 1991.

* During the times of autocracy, tribal, regional and narrow religious loyalties have been consolidated. Also during autocratic periods, growth and development within the political parties and the trade unions come to a stand still.

* During periods of democracy Human Rights, Civil Rights and basic freedoms have been protected inheras during the autocracies the same have denied and the citizens of the Sudan have been subjected to violations of Human Rights and other deprivations. We look forward to studies in comparative Democracy to win once and for all the debate about the superiority of Democracy. However, adapted and phased over all alternative systems.


Third Point :


There seems to be some doubts about the efficacy of National Sudanese opposition to the present regime. Some have even compared it to Iraqi opposition. This is unfair. Iraqi political parties are either sectarian based or ethnic based ( Shia and Kurds)..Sudanese political parties even when they have certain particularist support are more national. Further, Sudanese opposition speaks from inside the Sudan, Iraqi opposition has no internal existence. In fact, a comparison of the performance of the National opposition in Sudan with all similar countries like Burma, Haiti, Iraq and so on gives results which favour Sudan’s opposition. There have been several uprisings in the Sudan in some of the country’s major cities like: Al Obaid, Wad Madini, Al-Gadarif, Al-Nuhud, Umruaba, Omdurman and so on. It is because Sudanese opposition has continued to defy the regime that the regime violated Human Rights and qualified for UN. condemnation. There is continuously defiant student opposition inside the Sudan which the regime tried by all means to disperse and intimidate without success. There is a mature party and trade unions organization survived sixteen years of autocratic suppression during Nimairi’s regime and ultimately succeeded in destroying it. Every evidence now points to the fact that political infrastructure is alive and kicking.

The present regime in Sudan is facing an armed challenge in the south which spread Westwards and is now spreading Eastward. It is facing opposition from expatriate Sudanese communities. It is facing an autospoken internal challenge supported by political and trade-unions structures which have an underground  existence. This situation is bound to create pressures sufficient to effect peaceful democratic transition through a National Constitutional Conference, or to a Sudanese-style uprising ( similar to the ones of October 1964 & April 1985 ). The establishment of a radio station for the opposition will add to the pressures.


Fourth Point :



There is Now growing consensus in the Sudan about the need to stop the civil war in the Sudan and realize peace.

The politics and actions of the present regime have made the rallying of Southern opinion towards self-determination  inevitable.

Majority Northern opinion now thinks that if it takes accepting self-determination for the south to stop the war so be it. However, since we realize the special circumstances which created the current self-determination band-wagon, we want to give Sudanese unity a chance. Therefore we would like self-determination to take place when a legal legitimate Sudanese regime is in power, and when the country’s  appressed have had all their grievances addressed in a national constitutional conference, and when they have participated on an acceptable basis in a transitional government. It is only then that there could be a meaningful self-determination . Self-determination under circumstances of  NIF control will simply be a protest vote against the hated policies of the NIF.

Those who have been frustrated by the prolonged civil war and see separation as an easy way to stop it will be sharply disappointed.. There is good reason to believe that if the North/South war is stopped it will be followed by Rwanda style South/South tribal war. Further, the North/South dynamic has changed in many ways. There are now more Southerns in the North than in the South!. Many may not accept voluntary resettlement. There  is more in common between some Nilotics (Dinka) and many Baggara (Arab cow herders) than there is in common between those Baggara and their fellow Northerners the Danagla and the Mhas. Also there are more relations between Baggara Arabs and Nilotics than between the same Nilotics and fellow Southerners in Equatoria.

Again, separation in Sudan could trigger a wave of separation in the whole of Eastern Africa.

This is not to detract from self-determination if it is the only alternative to war. It is  an attempt to give unity another chance, and to detract from the presentation of separation as a resolution to all problems. It is not!.


Fifth Point :


What we expect from a serious and responsible international community is to continue pressure towards respect for Human Rights, basic freedoms and democratic change. We require the UN. to appoint three types of monitors:

* A humanitarian relief monitor.

* A human Rights and democratization monitor.

* A peace monitor.

We look forward to a UN. security council resolution about the Sudan Which spells out clearly what is expected of the Sudanese government in terms of Humanitarian Relief, in terms of Human Rights and basic freedoms, and in the term  of serious peace making. The UN. security council resolutions should have teeth in terms of economic sanctions.

It is true economic sanctions have so far not worked for Haiti and Burma. However, they create pressure which could help internal and external efforts. They worked in the case of South Africa and Zambia. There is no case for any other type of intervention in the Sudan.

The USA has not been forthcoming in supporting Sudanese Democracy in the years (1985-1989). We pray it will be forthcoming in the support of Sudanese Democratic forces to achieve the expected Democratic Transition.


Six Point :


Sudan has a great potential for the development of a positive Afro-Arab nexus. It has a great potential for the articulation of Islam in a way which realizes the good inherent in this religious, realizes the possibilities for equal relations between all creeds, recognizes equal rights to all the country’s citizens, creates conditions for international relations based on peace and cooperation, and elbows out efforts to dress extremism in Islamic robes. This is the proper characterization for a model role for Sudan not the present disastrous model.


Seventh Point:

It is high time that the world community addresses itself to the issue of a global regime for Human Rights, basic freedoms and Democratic change. It is expected of the USA to take the lead to persuade the international community to put in place a criteria of acceptability which all countries are expected to abide by.

This development will make coup-makers who might establish autocratic regimes think twice before engaging in such adventures.