Former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadek El-Mahdi addresses the Sudan issue
Sudan, Politics, 7/2/1999
Former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadek El-Mahdi, leader of the opposition Ummah Party, a member of the Democratic National Alliance, which brings together the northern and southern Sudanese opposition, gave the following statement to ArabicNews.com.
ArabicNews.com presents this statement to provide information about viewpoints in Sudan, which is currently engaged in a process of peace negotiations between the government and opposition groups. ArabicNews.com will continue to present official viewpoints as well as important responses to official positions.
1. By the end of this month the present regime in Khartoum completes a 10-year tenure. It imposed a partisan Islamist program on the country to the exclusion of all other opinions. It turned the civil war into holy war fought under the banners of jihad. It espoused an expansionist regional policy to impose its ideology on Sudan neighbors. It formed an Islamist Internationale to unify the various radical protest movements engaged in terrorist activities worldwide.
2. The people of Sudan resisted the so-called salvation regime. It faced regional rejection and international condemnation. Its performance in office was a model of disaster.
A - The civil war multiplied in atrocities and expanded in fronts to involve six fronts. The authority of the central states is now banished from at least 25% of the country territory, and is challenged by tribal wars in at least six areas. The country has become an extensive field for the culture forces of several militias. The opponents of the regime have all organized armed forces. The Sudan, which was known for its political and religious tolerance, has become a place where political dialogue is by firepower.
B- Five figures portray economic decline:
* Compared to June 1989, retail prices are now 5000% inflated on the average.
* The small internal and external finance deficits have multiplied tenfold, leading to extensive reliance on loans from the banking system, printing currency, and buying hard currency from the black market to sustain imports. Consequently the national currency has become worthless. It traded 14 pounds to the U.S dollar in 1989 it is trading 2,800 pounds to dollar today.
* Because Sudan's financial surplus was wiped out during the Nimeiri regime, and the domestic period didn't last long enough to heal the economy, and the "salvation regime" simply enhanced the financial deficits, the only sources for economic development was developmental aid. The policies of the current regime dried up this source and consequently all economic development stopped.
* The regime fully implemented the IMF economic reform recipe. Sudan's welfare regime was terminated. Several public enterprises were privatized. However, the savings from the welfare expenditures were directed to help war and the various security expenditures. Privatization became patronization because the public enterprises were sold to the regime's supporters at low prices. The consequences of these policies were a big leap in the socioeconomic gap with a few ultra-rich citizens and a mass of poverty that has been catastrophic.
* The majority of the people of Sudan are managing to survive through the following extraordinary methods:
- Liquidation of capital goods and precious possessions.
- Seeking external resettlement in the four corners of the world making the Sudanese one of the fastest growing refugee populations in many parts of the world.
- Reliance on remittances from expatriate Sudanese nationals.
- Extensive reliance on relief aid, which in the last 10 years has reached more than one billion dollars.
3. In somewhat devious recognition of this failure, the regime has attempted to reform itself during the last two years:
A - It adopted some of the policies of the Asmara conference of 1995. On the basis of these policies it signed the agreement of peace from within in 1997.
B - It adopted a constitution which recognized a from of political association in 1998.
C - It changed its regional policy and attempted to speak to Sudan's neighbors in terms of good neighborliness.
D - It attempted to address itself to the international community in terms of international legitimacy and legality.
4. The agreement of peace from within failed to make peace because they were essentially signed with breakaway factions from the SPLM/A. Their implementation failed the 1998 constitution led to the formation of 30-odd parties, which had very little popular support. The Sudanese political scene is as confrontational as ever. Whatever freedoms the constitutions stipulated, the subsequent laws ensured the continually of the institutions of the police states.
5. However, the regime's external initiatives met with some success:
* Thanks to certain strategic considerations, the regime formed a consortium of oil companies, Chinese, Malaysian, Canadian and others invested heavily in Sudan's oil industry.
* Thanks to American miscalculation in destroying a civilian target, the Shifaa factory, the regime's European contacts met with listening ears.
* Thanks to the wars in the Horn of African, and the Great Lakes District, the regime reestablished some relations. Those external successes are now being neutralized by trends which are growing in force in the Western press, among N.G.O's, in some church quarters, and within the U.S. Congress, to call for direct foreign intervention to stop the war in Sudan and to force a political solution. The Sudan is fast developing Balkanization patterns, and fast inviting international intervention.
6. The IGAAD initiative is the most serious and sustained mediation effort to resolve the Sudanese armed conflict, because it attempted to box the two parties with the D.O.P, because it involved some of Sudan's direct neighbors, and because through the I.P.F it involved the participation of a substantial section of the international community. There are three defects in the IGAAD framework:
* The mediation is only between two parties to conflict.
* The agenda does not include the constitution.
* There are other equally concerned neighbors of Sudan who are not involved in the process without a comprehensive national solution, the Sudanese armed conflicts will not be resolved. Further the wars in the Great Lakes district and in the Horn of Africa have negatively affected the effectiveness of the IGAAD states. The attempts by the IPF since last July 1998 to redress this through a special envoy and technical committees, even if it proves effective, is still by the limitations of the IGAAD framework.
7. My meeting last May with Dr. Turabi was initiated by a Sudanese citizen's mediation. It resulted in an agreement to initiate a political dialogue, to agree upon a national forum for that dialogue, to specify a national agenda for the dialogue, and to give urgency to the search for a political solution to the conflicts in Sudan. Since that meeting, the issue of a comprehensive national dialogue became paramount, the Sudan problem achieved a certain urgency in the Sudanese press, in the regions neighboring the Sudan, and internationally.
The suddenness of the Geneva meeting, and some ill-informed reactions to it raised anxieties about NDA solidarity. The NDA meeting of June 10, 1999 addressed all such anxieties. Without the need to repeat the NDA resolution, we have agreed continue with the three scenarios to free our country. The political scenario is geared to:
A. The realization of the aspirations of the people of the Sudan in peace, democracy and good neighborliness.
B. Affirmation of confidence in the IGAAD States and IPF, welcoming of the Egyptian and Libyan initiative to help resolve the conflicts in Sudan, and the search for a mechanism to coordinate the mediation efforts.
C. The need to agree a mechanism for a national comprehensive solution to be convened in an agreed venue.
D. The appointment of a high level five-man committee to conduct the talks about the political solution.
E. Agreement to pursue NDA policies collectively, and to recognize party political, and diplomatic activities as long as they abide by agreed principles.
8. At this juncture, the process of political dialogue will become really viable if and when three aspects are realized:
A. A comprehensive declaration of principles.
B. A mechanism to coordinate the mediation efforts as a form of IGAAD - plus.
C. A comprehensive negotiating mechanism is established. The political situation in Sudan is pregnant with change.
I hope that national, regional, and international efforts will be coordinated to ensure that change realizes the aspirations of the tormented people of the Sudan.
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