Until I came across a small book titled “DARFUR a short history of along war” co- authored by : Alex de waal and Julie Flint , I used to admire Julie Flint and regard her as courageous truth seeker, indomitable fighter for justice and human rights.
Way back in late 2003 or early 2004 I used to listen to her excellent reporting from Western Darfur on BBC specially on the plight of the Massaliet people in the hands of Janjaweed and government forces.
I did some investigation on the person and learned that she is not new to Sudan … She has been involved with the Sudanese affairs for quite some time specially in the Nuba mountains but to my amazement , I came to learn of her intellectual Naivety and limitedness of perceptual horizon, when it comes to detailed contextual reading of Darfur affairs, in terms of people, politics and socio-cultural reality and environment . I deeply felt , it is an infra dick for a serious observer writer of her years in Sudan to degenerate to the level of quick writing, just writing any piece of market rummer and iddle talk and publish it.
When I met Alex de waal in Nairobi recently I started expressing to him my critical views on their book’s , section dealing with the movements , Alex was quick in absolving himself saying “ That section is written by Julie Flint”
I was dump founded because I couldn’t reconcile what I read with what I heard over the BBC about a year ago.
Last week again I came across an article on Sudaneseonline website , said to be commentary written by Julie Flint to Daily star Newspaper. Reading it left me with mixed feelings about Julie Flint, who is the real She? Has she got an a genda?
What does the (self styled) historian want from Dafur ? is she commissioned to lead a campaign of calmny, hate and discredit against the Ela degain first, Zaghawa second, and SLM/A third?
Whatever be the answer, l would like to take her on some of her baseless allegations and assertions .
Leaving a side any discussions on her claims of killings “every sunset” ! because such claims as repulsive as they are to the reasoning and impartial mind, are legal issues, neither of us is competent to discuss on the pages of newspapers and websites..
They are also sensitive issues both to our people and to the international community – more specially Malik Abdulrahaman himself is a cousin to the entire Ela- degain , his killing by government elements charged us all emotionally.
Julie’s logic baffles me - - in her write-up which is largely built on rumors and heresay and packed with hate for SLA leaders she discusses SLA commanders, sometimes as if she accepts that there is a command and control mechanism within the movements army, at times she writes as if she does not recognize any command structure in SLA or as if SLA is a total anarchy lacking any semblance of organizational structure and authority each commander acts the way he likes, specially when she narrates sympathetically of (commanders ) “slipping “ away clandistinely to Abuja ! for What? – can peace be achieved through such means ?
Julie argues that Amnesty international warned that Suliman marajan is at “risk of execution” because he has been arrested by Minnawi – but because she is so heavily biased , she did not burden herself to find out why was Marajan arrested. To her information, and benefit of the readers – Suliman Marajan could have been killed two years ago in his own home village by the Janjaweed and government forces, had it not been for the same Minnawi who rescued him under all loss of life and danger - - The information available to me now indicates the arrest of Marajan, but he has been arrested for an arrestable offence and in accordance with the movements regulations. At the time of his defiant departure to Abuja , he was incharge of SLA finances , he was entrusted with millions of Sudanese pounds. Marajan did not handover the money to any official, and was no where to be found, these are money meant for the upkeep of SLA personnel , and the organization of the general conference .
In the circumstances any organization worthy of its name must take measures to recover the money and bring the offender to book. The other matter of “execution “does not arise and it is only in the futile imagination of rumor mongerers – and l would like to assure the readers and the international community that no amount of fanning of tribal disaffection and hatred shall lead to any “blood flow’ in our country.
Julie asserts that the Haskanita conference was organized “without the consent of the SLA Chairman”. Had she done enough research in the beginnings that led to the conference? If she had done so she would not have said so - - -
There are documents in black and white signed by the former chairman consenting to this general conference - - these documents were signed in Asmara in Feb. 2005 - - to the effect that “ a general conference, to better restructure and organize the movement, shall be held in the liberated areas within three months of the date of the agreement (February 2005)” Infact the idea of the general conference was first initiated by the former chairman himself during the first round of Abuja talks (August – September 2004. At the time six sub- organizing committees were formed, representing the various sectors of the field, plus another committee for SLM/A members in diaspora - - but those committees were not empowered to carry out their work, until the Asmara agreement of February 2005. – In any case whoever fed Julie with such information about the Haskanita conference was not honest and thickly misinformed her, and she willingly accepted the misinformation to bury the facts which are not to her liking .
To her information, the actual number of delegates to the conference were 800,representing 8 electoral collages from six sectors of Darfur (the North ,South ,East ,West Center and Jebal Marra) the electoral colleges were : the women , the students and Youth, the refugees, SLM foreign offices, SLM offices within the country, the local tribal chiefs, the liberated areas, and the SLA military. Out of the 800 delegates 714 were able to attend the conference ,20 membership cards were assigned to the Chairman and his aids, but he declined to show up preferring instead to send a delegation. In the process 517 delegates voted for minni while 46 delegates voted for the other contestant – commander Adam Bakhiet. Some 151 delegates either Abstained or did not take part in the exercise, these are possibly Abdul Wahids’s supporters.
Tribally speaking - though I am not a tribalist and SLM/A itself is not tribally structured as Julie wants others to belief – the Fur delegates in the conference were 203 delegates and to her benefit , Minmi himself was nominated to the chairmanship by a delegate from Fur tribe in his mid sixties;
On the issue of Ela-degain, does Julie know how many Ela-Degain commanders in SLM/A appointed by Minni? To her information there is only one Ela-degain commander in charge of a sector, and he to my knowledge won his command by sheer meritorious performance in the battle fields—SLA as an army is under the full command and control of Juma Haggar , his deputy is Bakhiet Karima, the chief of staff is Judo Isa, he has other two deputies non of the above mentioned is Ela-Degain,SLA has nine directorates and corps. Non of these is commanded by an Ela-degain – SLM has various political office holders apart from Minni, no Ela-degain is in any capacity that can influence decisions –
Her assertions about Bakhiet openly opposing Minni or Hassan withdrawing support, has no basis, and even if its true it only tends to confirm the democratic spirit within SLM/A and since Hassan has issued a statement to the effect that he does not hold any command in SLA army (not to talk of being “in charge of heavy weapons”) and he is loyal to his commander general Juma Haggar, l need not comment more.
As to international support we know that Julie cannot hold brief for US state department – by saying “Today Washington is rethinking Minnawi”That is her wishful thinking she must know that governments such as USA do reason. Calculate and analyse situations and positions before taking any decision – and again US government can never be supportive of individuals, in the Darfur case it can only support situations that can help bring peace normalcy and democracy for the generality of the people.
Lastly on her assertions about Minni’s relationship to the late hero commander Abdullah Abakar.l would not have commented,if not for the serious misinformation she wanted to feed the international community -- to her information. Iam a living witness and a close associate of both men—Abdallah Abakkar never related to Minni Minnawi as a boss, rather he related to him as his political superior and tactician – and minni viewed abdallah as an extra ordinary leader and military commander superior to any one in the field – and the two worked level ,as friends , brothers and commarades at arms for a sacred cause . Minni was the “AMEEN” (trustee) and Abdallah was “ALKAID” (the leader) each had his own secretary who is a graduate – but in the field categorization of graduates and illiterates disappears, for all are soldiers fighting for a cause and each and every one wins his command by performance and merits.
SLM delegate to Haskanita General Conference