A Sad Day for Sudan
The definitive indications are that President Bashir and the National Congress have, indeed, chosen the mature response to the ICC indictment; pushing ahead with the CPA and trying to secure a comprehensive political settlement to Darfur. They have realised that a country that is moving head forth towards comprehensive political, economic and social transformation hardly fits the implicit narrative of a failed state that the ICC tends to adjudicate in. Below is the communique that was issued by the Sudanese authorities yesterday at the official press conference following the announcement – and supported by the SPLM amongst many other political forces. Not the “˜cornered wild dog’ scenario that had been widely predicted by the likes of Alex de Waal, Andrew Natsios and others……
Government of The Republic of Sudan – Ministry of Communications and Information
Monday 14th July, 2008
Today is indeed a very sad day for Sudan – and the Sudanese people. The ICC indictment of H.E. President Omar Al-Bashir marks the apex of an unprecedented five-and-half year campaign of false propaganda and grotesque misinformation by Darfuri rebel groups and international activist groups about the conflict in Darfur.
The campaign has included labelling the conflict falsely as a genocide – a description rejected by the UN Security Council in 2003 and international diplomats and aid workers here on the ground in Sudan; wildly inflating the number of those who have died in, or as result of, the conflict – and preceding the number with sensationalist adjectives like “murdered” and “killed” to denote a level of violence that is non-existent with the reality on the ground in Darfur; and portraying the situation in Darfur as a race war between “Arabs” and “Black Africans” – even though Harvard academic and “˜Sudan expert’ Alex de Waal, certainly no friend of the Sudanese government, has called these labels “unhelpful” and “inaccurate”.
We also note with dismay that the activists have continued to portray Darfur as being in freefall, whereas the reality and general trend shows that humanitarian indicators there have been above the international definition of an “˜emergency’ since mid-2004; over 50 per cent of Darfur’s estimated 6.7 million population remains untouched by the conflict; and more than 400,000 internally displaced Darfuris have returned home voluntarily – notwithstanding fresh displacements this year due largely to tribal fighting. Moreover, over 90 per cent of Darfur today is secure, with rebel activity largely confined to small, if plentiful, pockets along the border with Chad in West Darfur, and to the south bordering Central African Republic.
We also note with dismay that our reasons for not signing the Rome Treaty have proven correct. Justice is supposed to be blind, yet the ICC has, during its decade of existence, appears to have consigned Africa only as a laboratory for politically-motivated prosecutions, as we expected. Individuals and leaders of countries elsewhere, who could be judged to have committed equally chargeable acts in numerous other wars throughout the world – and could have the same charge sheet, outlined today by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, levelled at them – have escaped any censure. If the international rule of law is to become a reality, then it must be applied internationally without favour. Full stop.
We also note with dismay that sections of the international community have failed to acknowledge that we too, the Government of Sudan, have toiled earnestly – and will continue to do so – through our highly competent national judicial and police systems to convict those in the Sudanese state or anybody else that have committed crimes in Darfur on the basis of the verifiable and actual evidence presented. Prosecutions cannot and will not take place on the basis of rumours, insinuations, and politically-manipulated testimonies that underpins the tomb of “˜evidence’ against H.E. President Al-Bashir, outlined today by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo.
Today is a very sad day for the people of Darfur, too. The ICC indictment will do little – indeed just the exact opposite – to unite and bring the fractious non-signatory rebel groups to the negotiating table with a coherent set of Darfur-specific demands to end this pointless conflict and the prolonged suffering of ordinary Darfur civilians permanently. A group of some 2000 men cannot be allowed to hold the millions in Darfur hostage for their own personal interests and ends and deny Darfur the right to peace, stability and development that is our goal.
We also note with dismay that international public opinion has been manipulated to cast doubt on our sincerity and desire to achieve a lasting and just peace for Darfur since the conflict started in 2003. We have willingly signed up to an internationally-brokered peace deal when asked (Abuja in May 2006), turned up at anytime and any place for further international initiatives to broker a more comprehensive peace settlement (Sirte in October 2007), and unilaterally declared numerous ceasefires.
Even yesterday, H.E. President Al-Bashir announced a home-grown initiative calling on all of Sudan’s political parties to express and submit concrete proposals for ending the Darfur conflict peacefully. Moreover, just last week, we agreed without reservations to the kind offer of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to host peace talks in London soon with non-Abuja signatory Darfuri rebel groups, and we have fully welcomed, and have guaranteed our full cooperation with, the new appointment of the joint AU-UN peace mediator for Darfur, H.E Djibril Bassole.
We continue to call on the international community to meet its obligations to re-invigorate peace talks for Darfur, as stated in UN Security Council Resolution 1591, by forcing recalcitrant rebel leaders back to the negotiating table, and to fulfil their financial and military promises to the UNAMID force in Darfur without reservation.
The ICC indictment is a huge complicating factor in achieving peace in Darfur, a threat to national stability, and an affront to the Sudanese people, the long-cherished international principles of national sovereignty – and, most crucially, the reality of the situation in Darfur and the real, as opposed to imagined, factors driving this conflict. Yet, the National Congress will not, as has been predicted by most international “Sudan watchers”, start lashing out wildly and irrationally in response to the indictments. Such ongoing attempts to demonise the National Congress, we note, have provided the fertile ground that has led to the preposterous ICC charges against H.E. President Al-Bashir announced today in the first place.
We, therefore, will instead push on with our strategy of bringing peace, development and stability to all of Sudan – not because the international community forces or tell us to do so, but because we believe it is the right thing for the Sudanese people. The strategy of bringing peace, development and stability to all of Sudan is – and will always remain – domestically-owned – and not an externally-created or dictated constructed. And that is why virtually all Sudanese and the country’s political forces see the ICC indictment for what it is: an unwelcome, externally-generated intrusion on Sudan’s bright future destiny.
We have an ambitious, if difficult, economic, political and social transformation programmes to enact nationally that we will not allow to be distracted by the latest ICC indictment. Indeed, we Sudanese have, sadly grown use to prophets of doom like Mr Ocampo focusing just on what divides Sudanese as opposed to the much greater commonalities that unite us – and Sudan will continue to confound his and others’ predictions of looming disaster, as we have done many times before.
We will push on with formulating the National Electoral Commission, which will oversee the freest multiparty elections in Sudan ever in 2009 – the landmark Elections Act was passed resoundingly by national parliament only last week – not because the international community forces or tell us to do so, but because we believe it is the right thing for the Sudanese people.
We will tackle reform of the press law and the intelligence act – not because the international community forces or tell us to do so, but because we believe it is the right thing for the Sudanese people. We will respect and abide by the rulings of the International Court of Justice on the boundary of Abyei – not because the international community forces or tell us to do so, but because we believe it is the right thing for the Sudanese people.
We will carry on with bringing economic development and opportunities for advancement to all Sudanese – not because the international community forces or tell us to do so, but because we believe it is the right thing for the Sudanese people. Indeed, Nyala, capital of South Darfur, took delivery of a government-funded $50 million 60 Mega Watt sub power station just two months ago that will light up the whole of Darfur by the end of the year, and the Blue Nile State just inaugurated a similar $50 million plant on 12th July, 2008.
We will continue to deploy vast sums of national oil revenue on rural roads investments and crop diversification in the key agriculture sector – not because world food prices or the international community forces or tell us to do so, but because we believe it is the right thing for the Sudanese people.
Today is indeed a very sad day for Sudan – and the Sudanese people. But the ICC indictment of H.E. President Al-Bashir also presents an opportunity that must not be missed to the international community and the many friends of Sudan the world over to push for the invoking of “˜Article 16′ by the UN Security Council to suspend the ICC’s untimely and unjust intervention into Sudan.
Let us all end the pointless demonisation of Sudan’s global image, and provide the diplomatic, financial, political and technical assistance that we, Government of Sudan, require to achieve the peaceful, prosperous, equitable, democratic and stable Sudan that we are all striving for.
We hope the international community does not pass up on this historic moment and does what is right for Sudan – and the Sudanese people.
Ibrahim Adam is an independent consultant based in al Fasher.