A brighter future for the Nuba Mountains
For the past two years the Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum has been assiduously and with great interest following the Naivasha Agreement since it was signed in Kenya. Our main focus was on the implementation of the agreement, particularly in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains region. However, it appears that its implementation is undergoing serious problems, in particular regarding the clauses
stipulated for the Nuba Mountains, despite the fact that there were so few.
The Naivasha Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is a bilateral treaty signed by the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A) to resolve Sudan's long conflict. This agreement had one positive aspect: it has brought peace in the short term, and many negative aspects. Among these are: the marginalization of the regions which took up the armed struggle
including the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Darfur and also the northern political opposition forces. They were all alienated from the main provisions of power and wealth-sharing.
The people of the Nuba Mountains have been marginalized politically, economically and socially and their region has been denied substantive development for the past two years of the interim period. Furthermore, the people were denied their civil and political rights. Today the people of the Nuba Mountains are still undergoing their uphill struggle for survival. They are suffering from hunger, lack of water resources, widespread poverty, rampant diseases and lack of security in the region. This appalling situation is due to deliberate acts by the government, as there has been no commitment by National Unity Government to alleviate the suffering of the people by developing the region, as stipulated in the agreement.
Naivasha has created great political chaos in Nuba Mountains and a new situation that never existed before. It also created large divisions among people in the region and this of course suites the interest of the two Parties. The agreement is a ambiguous as far the Nuba Mountains political settlement is concerned, despite the long struggle and great sacrifices made by the people of the region. This is with the view of establishing a new Sudan, built on justice, equality, true citizenship, and also to have a real distribution of power and wealth-sharing. This will cement freedom, equality and justice not only for the Nuba Mountains but for the whole of Sudan.
The Naivasha Agreement falls short as it did not meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people.
The agreement up to now is merely ink on paper, as far as the Nuba clauses are concerned. This explains the failure of the National Unity Government to carry out its implementation. This has led many people who had been waiting patiently for so long for a just peace to be realised to come out protesting against the CPA.
Such burning resentment developed into the recent sad and troubling incidents which took place in the national capital, Khartoum, where many innocent people and policemen were killed. We should also remember the horrible recent events which took place in Malakal, in Southern Kordofan between Nuba and Maalyia tribes, and the recent Abyei incidents. All these incidents clearly demonstrate the lack of trust, sincerity and commitment to implementation of the agreement by the two parties.
Currently, there is great competition between the National Congress Party and SPLM to gain the political support of the Nuba Mountains people. However, they are not keen to address the crucial issues affecting them. The two parties want to make the Nuba Mountains region a political battle ground as they did before the civil war. By so doing, they have weakened the people physically, politically and socially, despite the immense efforts and constant attempts to bring about a comprehensive resolution to Sudan’s long lasting conflict. However, the agreement has a hidden agenda for Nuba Mountains region.
The Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum believes that this agreement has created
anxiety and a political vacuum in the region. The two signatories to the agreement have succeeded in destroying the political leadership in the region and weakened the Nuba cause.
In order not to repeat the same mistake the people of Nuba Mountains should learn from their past. We in the Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum believe that the reason for the failure of our region to gain its political rights at the Naivasha peace talks was due to several factors:
1. Lack of unity and political vision among the people of Nuba Mountains, particularly regarding the core issues.
2. The poor and weak representation at the Naivasha Peace Talks by the so-called Nuba Mountains delegation led by SPLA Commander Abdel-Aziz Al-Heilo.
3. The abrogation of the agreement by the Nuba alliance which gave their mandate at the Kauda conference to negotiate on their behalf. Instead the Nuba issue was
used as a bargaining chip in order to achieve self-determination for Abyei, which consequently could theoretically become part of the South in the future when it exercises its right of self-determination. Historically Abyei was part of the Nuba Mountains region. But because the Nuba were not present physically at the negotiation table to claim their right to Abyei, the whole issue went without being contested.
Therefore it is clear that Naivasha Agreement has put the political future of the Nuba Mountains in a very precarious situation, as it has created political divisions among the people, a political vacuum which developed into a lack of articulate and strong Nuba political leaders who properly understand the issues that most concern the people of the Nuba Mountains.
Today, we see intense recruitment of political and community leaders in the region by both National Congress Party and SPLM. This of course will definitely weaken the Nuba Mountains political position as people put themselves forward for their own personal advancement. It is also important that the people of the Nuba Mountains should liberate themselves from the narrow concepts of sectarianism, partisan and tribalism. We believe that both the NCP and SPLM have hidden agendas which will not allow them sincerely to resolve Nuba Mountains issue.
It is therefore vital that all the people of the Nuba Mountains, irrespective of their different political affiliation, ethnicity and background, who are sincerely interested in the development of region, to rise up and work together with strong determination to fill up the political gap created. We must start educating our cadres inside and outside the country to be prepared to take part for the coming democratic election in the country, which is considered to be a crucial and critical turning point in the political history of the Nuba Mountains. The risk lies in the policies of central government which are determined to eradicate the Nubas' cultural identity, forcibly expropriate their ancestral lands and remove the historical name of the “Nuba Mountains”, which are all inalienable parts of our distinctive cultural heritage.
The people of the Nuba Mountains believe that their key demands and aspirations have not been addressed by the Naivasha Agreement. The CPA gave the SPLM 45% and the NCP 55% in the division of power-sharing in the Southern Kordofan/Nuba Mountains region. We would like to ask a simple question - who gave them that right over the Nuba Mountains when Nuba were not represented in the peace negotiations?
Why didn't the two parties do the same sort of division of power-sharing for Darfur or Eastern Sudan when they were fighting for the same power and wealth-sharing.
We believe that such negative acts and attitudes could lead to the break up of Nuba Mountains region in the future, particularly if the South decides at the end of the interim period to opt for separation. We do not want Nuba Mountains to become 'another Kashmir
Although the two regions took up the armed struggle only recently, Darfur and Eastern Sudan achieved far more of their political demands than the Nuba people,
who had been fighting alongside the SPLA for nearly twenty years of
The traditional parties who have been power in Sudan since independence have adopted similar policies to that of NCP towards the Nuba Mountains, and have equally
failed to address the demands and the aspiration of the people of the region.
We in the Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum are earnestly concerned for the political future of the region and the right of our people to maintain our ancestral lands and to have our fair share of wealth and power. We also seek to protect our varied culture and distinctive heritage against the continuous discrimination policy of the central government and its marginalisation by the two Parties, particularly at a
time when there are no charismatic political leaders and little political vision among the region's people to achieve fundamental rights for the Nuba Mountains. I
t is for this reason that we took this initiative proposing the following before it is too late:
1. To work effectively to unite the people of the Nuba Mountains and to unify their political vision.
2. To organize a conference for the people of the Nuba Mountains from the various political groups and civil society organizations to debate the deteriorating situation and the uncertain political prospects of the Nuba Mountains with the view to achieving a brighter future for the region.
3. To establish a broad front representing all political groups in the region that express the political future interest of the people and committed to form a clear, comprehensive and informative political view, which will resolve the region's problems and prevent its rights from being taken away. Above all, we need to lay down steps for the people to prepare them for the challenges ahead, including the next years' national elections and the forthcoming self-determination to be exercised by the people of the South, which will ultimately decide the future of Sudan.
Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum
E-Mail: [email protected]