Broken promises: What Darfur rebels should learn from the North-South agreements

(Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S) – The coming of President Omar Bashir to power by coup in 1989 when he ousted Prime Minister Sadig al-Mahdi marked a different rule in Sudan’s history. Under his leadership, two million black Africans from the South have died from the war, starvation, disease, and four million displaced from their homes. In 2003, Bashir sponsored the so-called “Janjaweed” militia to commit genocide on African Muslims and non-Muslims from Darfur region because they rebelled against his government. Despite their Muslims faith which makes them “brothers” as claimed by their religion, the government didn’t care and proceeded with their plan to silence any rebellion from black Africans tribes in Darfur regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

What is similar between South Sudanese and Darfur people is that they want the same freedom that other Muslims are enjoying in Khartoum. Before Sudanese people gained their independence in 1956 from the British, South Sudanese started fighting for their freedom while Darfur people were told by the government to join the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) to fight their brothers and sisters because the “Southerners” were fighting to get “rid of Islam ” in Sudan.  This is completely inaccurate as many Sudanese know. This propaganda by the government was also used in the Nuba Mountains and in the Blue Nile region as well. Many of the African Muslims joined the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and others were coerced to fight. To this day, the majority of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) recruits are from Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile. A soldier from the South is quoted as saying “we are fighting black Arabs”. This indeed proves that black Muslims were killing their own people from the South in the name of Islam.

The mutiny in Torit in 1955 and in Bor in 1983 when the government of Sudan declared Sharia law as the law of the country despite Sudan being a multicultural country, made Southerners return to war after a failed agreement signed in 1972 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Bashir’s government has tried over and over to sign other fake peace agreements with the Sudanese People Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/SPLA) for two decades in vain until the current Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Kenya in 2005, which gave Southerners the choice to vote for separation or vote to be a united Sudan. On January 9, 2011, South Sudanese determined their destiny and 98 percent of the people from the South voted for separation.

Despite the breakaway of the South in July 9, 2011, Bashir’s government still has not made any changes in his government as demanded by the Justice Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) from Darfur.Bashir is using similar tactics like he did to the (SPLM/ SPLA) in 1991 after the split between Dr. Garang de Mabior and Dr. Riak Machar. Bashir was quick to sign a peace deal with Riak’s faction in Nasir, which never lasted. His recent invasion of Abyei and bombardment of civilians in Southern Kordofan is a clear violation of the promises. Yet, the Darfur rebels are willing to sign any peace deal with Bashir’s government. What makes Darfur rebels think that Bashir will honor his promises given the history of broken peace agreements between the North and South is most problematic.

South Sudan and Darfur rebels ought to take the following action to reform Bashir’s government:

  • The leadership of JEM and SLA should demand for President Bashir’s resignation and the secretary in charge of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) during peace talks otherwise, the JEM and SLA will continue to wage war against the Khartoum government
  • The JEM and SLA is willing to change their movement to Darfur Justice Movement (DJM) or Darfur Liberation Army (DLA). This means Darfur rebels are no longer fighting for reform in Khartoum’s government, but becoming a separate nation for Black African Muslims and non-Muslims in Darfur.
  • JEM and SLA should be willing to join the Republic of South Sudan (ROSS) to dissolve the Bashir government and rid the North from the National Congress Party (NCP) leadership.
  • The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) should send a message to Bashir that if he still supports Misseriya tribe participation in the Abyei’s referendum then the South will support Darfur rebels in ousting Bashir out of power in order to bring Dr. Garang’s vision of “New Sudan”.
  • GOSS should send a clear message to any leader that allows Bashir to visit their country as an enemy of the South Sudan and Darfur people given the charges already made by the ICC.
  • GOSS should also send a clear message to Bashir that they are willing to support Darfur rebels militarily and with battalions from the SPLA despite their alliance with the North during the North-South civil war if there are no viable peace talks with the Darfur rebels.

It is my hope that these recommendations put forth by South Sudan’s leadership and by Darfur rebels, that the Bashir government would immediately take actions either by withdrawing their forces in those contested areas, and the Darfur rebels would have a better chance in negotiation for lasting peace in Sudan.

Mr. Leek is graduate student at Clark University where he’s studying International Development and Social Change (IDSC). He now resides in Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A. He can be at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.