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By Lojo Kanadi - 4 May 2020

Opinion | Old folks turning against each other as peace heads to the South

How long can a friend remain a friend?

There are some daunting feelings that all efforts to peace are heading to the south. Many hopes the Sudanese had in the new shared transitional government and the armed groups seemed to be waning out so faster than expected. It has been a year on since the ouster of Mr. Al Bashir but there is little evidence to substantiate the pledge for reforms agenda and coexistence among the parties to this great and historic revolution. Yes, there is a new structure and perhaps a handful of new faces in the top leadership, but the system is very much the same.

Well, though I am against radical change due to its shortcomings, I believe by now, there should have been some precedent reforms rolled out by the leadership of this transitional government to accommodate all Sudanese based on their competency and deliverability, a reform to see unhindered delivery of the most needed services. This requires the collaboration of the public officials to collectively embark on a new approach of ensuring such change in both public and private institutions.

However, these much-needed reforms in the system and structure seemed to be falling on the deaf ear. An attempt to dismantle old structures without simultaneously dismantling old system is just a tip of the iceberg. In fact, the most systematic challenge of reforms and change lies in the system of an institution rather than the structure of that particular institution i.e., any successful reform is in the system, not structure. Until the transitional government throws its weight behind system change, Sudanese will reap their past.

When the then state minister Hon. Stephen Amin was appointed late in January 2020, there was some sense of inclusivity, equal representation and new faces in the structure and some hope of reforms in this transitional government. But to some dismay, they were shocked to see the very new minister tendering in his resignation citing the incompatibilities of the system. Reducing the powers of the whole minister into ceremonial was an insult to such a minister and the Sudanese at large. Could one conclude Mr. Al Bashir is still in command while behind bars? Could it be the reforms the revolutionist paid their blood for? This is not new. It is the old tradition of the past regime. Many fall prey to this tradition.

The struggle for the new Sudan project is to liberate all Sudanese from such demeaning and insult. To create a system that doesn’t discriminate or undermine Sudanese because of their religion, ethnicity or affiliations. The habit of creating infights within group camps is not new either. When SPLA took up arms to liberate Sudanese from such a chain of hostage and sabotage, they did it in a good comradeship. They devoted their wholeness and lost some of their comrades in the struggle. They paid their dear price over the years. The game of split had never ceased among comrades. When the SPLA comrades in the South seceded in 2011, the remaining faction of SPLA –N continued their liberation, however, out of exhaustion or whatever motive, some lost their vision and preferred to trade for short cuts. Leading to the rebirth of SPLA-N Al Hilu and SPLA –N Agar in 2017.

While Al Hilu remained loyal to their comrades who paid their dear lives for the liberation and committed to the vision of the new Sudan, their former comrades are feeling bitter and jealous seeing them pursue their old vision and commanding considerably large territory of the liberated areas. The statement of the former governor of South Kordofan and secretary-general for SPLA – N Agar, Khamis Jalab requires logical reasoning to draw valid and sound conclusions. His call for peace in the Nuba Mountains is captive to reasoning beyond this. It is true that the Nuba people have suffered enough and that they need peace, but the question is which peace? Can they abandon their long struggle for something that can’t benefit them or make them captive later? Can they trade for such half-baked peace and betray their comrades who paid for this dearly? The former president of Burkina Faso Thomas Sankara once said, “There are those who owe us something (blood debt) that no money can pay for” where are the blood debt of those martyrs who sacrificed their dear lives in the liberation? Have they already achieved their destined objective? Can the likes of Jallab learn from the former state minister, Hon. Stephen Amin on still existing incompatibilities of the system?

When the transitional government sought to negotiate peace in Sudan with all armed groups, they thought changing strategies would help them single-handled the rebels and reach a comprehensive peace agreement within six months. But little did they know the complexities and different demands of the rebels. This, at the start gave birth to two tracks, namely; SPLA-N Al Hilu and SRF (in which the Darfur rebels and SPLA-N Agar are parties to) tracks. Although SRF (Darfur rebels and Agar faction) seemed the safe landing for the transitional government, peace still remains elusive. Since the SRF track was further divided into Darfur and SPLA-N Agar, the Agar group seemed to be in trouble and in a poor position to renegotiate the already agreed packages in the peace. They found themselves vulnerable to the peace pact as they don’t have command in the territory in which they claimed to have control over. Unlike Al Hilu who has commanded considerably large territory of liberated areas both in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile states. His populace is amazing and scaring at the same time due to its magnitude. Although earlier efforts were directed to reunite the old folks, their diverging beliefs and philosophies and the growing distrust from the populace towards some leaders have rendered all the efforts to remerge impossible.

In negotiation, there are many available tools at the disposal of the mediators to subject the actors to the conflict to resolve their disputes. Among others, the marginalization of the party (ies) to conflict is one of the tools available. And Since the Agar faction has no necessary leverage to influence the transitional government and the mediators to marginalize Al Hilu faction; they have reduced themselves to inciting the people in Al Hilu’s stronghold of Nuba Mountains in the name of peace. The old friends are turning against each other, forgetting their long patriotic devotion.

 Where are the patriots and the love for the sons and daughters of the soil? Patriotism and betrayal is yet another gear changer in our modern society. You can hardly find a patriot person in the society. Some are seasonal. Of course, there are patriots but they are outnumbered. One can ask what happened to the patriots. Of course, something of value could breed faster and better than the awaited benefits of the so-called patriots. We are commercialized by our very own in very cheap and disrespected fronts.

One is tempted to ask, is the concern of Khamis Jallab for peace in the liberated area, by a slip or by design or both? Is this statement a design to ignite infights among the Nuba people? Does this action correspond to his call for peace or rather a war? Is this not the old tradition of the past regime? The Nuba must be vigilant and watchful of any attempt by selfish politicians who may wish to impose senseless war between and among their tribes. The Nuba had fought together enough against their common enemy and they don’t need more enemies. The Nuba people are more than one than to divide into tribal lines, they have come that far and they should be allowed to continue their struggle.

A concerned shepherd like Khamis Jallab wouldn’t have abandoned his flock when he had had the stewardship. There is a need for collective efforts to rebuild Sudan rather than fragmenting it further. If the Nuba has fought enough, allow them to get genuine peace. Let there exist a greater picture on how to rebuild the whole Sudan rather than focusing and tormenting the already liberated people of the Nuba. The Nuba should be cautious enough and desist from being the objects of the transferred frustration.

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