Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dr Khalil Ibrahim: Seek Peaceful Means and Not Aimless Wars

This analysis discusses the attack launched by Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Khartoum. It will be asking more questions on – than giving answers to – the motive behind Dr Khalil Ibrahim's what appeared to have been a suicidal rather than a well-conceived and planned attack on Khartoum.

The rebel JEM launched a devastating attack on Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on May 10th, 2008, at around 1500 hours local time. This attack, which had casualties on both sides with JEM having more casualties and losing almost all the equipment, heavy and light weapons they used for the attack, was repulsed after two-three hours later. JEM, according to the authorities in Khartoum, moved into Omdurman with more than two hundred vehicles, most of them Land Cruisers mounted with ballistic missile launchers, anti-aircraft guns and 106 launchers or artillery.

The JEM leader, Dr Khalil Ibrahim, spoke to BBC on a line that appeared to have been a mobile line on May 11th, 2008. He said that he was in full control of Omdurman, and that it was a matter of hours Khartoum would also be under his forces' control. Dr Khalil Ibrahim also said that his movement had nothing with the Sudanese army and people but was aiming at unseating President Al Bashir and seizing power from the National Congress Party (NCP). This was far from the truth because JEM forces entered the Sudanese army's engineering corps, clashed with soldiers on duty and so there were army and civilian casualties reported.

What would one understand from JEM's decision to launch the attack it did on Omdurman? Well, from Dr Khalil Ibrahim's own statement, he said he wants to end the rule of NCP and President Al Bashir to be more specific. But is it possible for one ethnic group to take on Khartoum, which is supposed to be defended by all the nationalities and ethnic groups in the Sudan? How could Dr Khalil Ibrahim convince anyone that he was not coming to Khartoum to cause mayhem and/or havoc and not to take over power?

It is not long ago that Dr Khalil Ibrahim insinuated to the press that he and his JEM were to fight for the secession of Darfur from the rest of the Sudan. How could someone like Khalil Ibrahim, who wants to separate Darfur from the entire country, leave the most important target, Darfur, which he intends to separate, and launch an attack on Omdurman, hundreds of miles away, instead? Could it be that some powers close to Dr Khalil Ibrahim and his JEM did convince him to abandon his ambition to separate Darfur? Could it then be that the very powers that convinced him did supply him with all the vehicles and weapons he used to attack Omdurman? What could be the motive of the powers that supplied JEM with vehicles and weapons?

The questions above are very difficult to answer indeed. They can only be answered by Dr Khalil Ibrahim himself and speculated upon by journalists like this author. However, what seems to be clear is that Dr Khalil Ibrahim has been talked out of his intention to separate Darfur from the rest of Sudan. Thus, his attack on Omdurman is a complete reassurance of the conviction followed by the heavy support seen from the arms and vehicles he acquired from somewhere to launch the attack he did on Omdurman. The motive behind the support of Dr Khalil Ibrahim by the powers that supported him and his JEM is the seizure of power in Khartoum to possibly effect regime change and satisfy their curiosity as well as interest in the Sudan.

However, the powers behind Dr Khalil Ibrahim did bet on a wrong horse. Otherwise, the attack was suicidal because no soldier – experienced or not – would ever plan to attack a government headquarters of any country without considering the important aspects of the operation, which are:
Appreciation of the enemy's military situation (the number of the force it is attacking, its strength and armaments);
Identifying clear targets;
Use of one ethnicity and the repercussions that would ensue in the event that the attack fails;
Defending the vehicles and weapons as movement's assets during the actual battle; and
Securing an escape route to save the assets and men, should things prove tough and hence a need to withdraw.

None of the aspects above appeared to have been employed by JEM's top military echelon at the head of Dr Khalil Ibrahim. Yet Dr Khalil Ibrahim cries foul and chooses item (3) above to use it against the government when he was supposed to take it into consideration in the first place. Dr Khalil Ibrahim is now calling on Human Rights Organisations to look into what he calls mass arrests, tortures and killings of his nationality and/or ethnic community in Khartoum. Who is Dr Khalil Ibrahim trying to blame for the arrests, tortures and killings of his nationality and/or ethnic community? Is it the government of President Al Bashir or himself and his inability to forecast repercussions of his action? President Al Bashir and his government have responsibilities over the Sudanese people. The attack on Omdurman was a military campaign Dr Khalil Ibrahim started. The killing of both soldiers from the army, police and other security organs, including civilians whom Dr Khalil Ibrahim said he had nothing against, had to be stopped by none other than the government itself.

The government authorities in Khartoum said that Dr Khalil Ibrahim was implementing foreign agenda. Could this be difficult to believe? No, it should be very possible to believe because the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was unable to acquire – in its first five years of the struggle – the number of vehicles and weapons Dr Khalil Ibrahim acquired in less than five years. This does not need an evening lesson. Dr Khalil Ibrahim has big powers behind him and they are definitely the ones who funded his JEM and it is only they, and not Dr Khalil Ibrahim, who know the agenda for trying to seize power in Khartoum.

Whatever Dr Khalil Ibrahim and the powers that are supporting him want by trying to seize power in Khartoum, they need to know that the Sudanese people have given their allegiance to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The attack on Omdurman, irrespective of whether or not it was aimed at seizing power, it was and will always be viewed as an attack on the CPA. Most Sudanese know that the signing of the CPA exacerbated Dr Khalil Ibrahim's and other Darfur rebels' exit out of Sudan to prepare for war against the CPA. The war in Darfur is more or less a protest against the CPA which is seen to be giving South Sudan more economic and political power base and a referendum to decide its future with North Sudan, which included Dr Khalil Ibrahim and other Darfur rebels before they started war in Darfur.

It should be noted, however, that any attack on Khartoum and the Government of National Unity (GoNU) by Darfur rebels would clearly be seen as aimed at dismantling the CPA partnership. This is more so because when the CPA negotiations started between the SPLM/A and the Inqaz government in Kenya, Dr Khalil Ibrahim was amongst those mobilizing Sudanese Muslims to go to South Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile to fight for Jihad or holy war. How people from Darfur pledged their support to the SPLM/A when it started in 1983? The people of Darfur then believed that the war in the South was not theirs. If Dr Khalil Ibrahim and his other rebel colleagues today believe that they have a cause to fight, they should be very careful about drawing all the Sudanese into fighting a war that is not theirs.

The people of Darfur have signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), which Dr Khalil Ibrahim and others have rejected. Like many agreements, the DPA could be having some shortcomings. But the GoNU has clearly indicated its willingness to accept amendments to the DPA if this is the concern of Dr Khalil Ibrahim and other Darfur rebels.

Fighting or intimidation does not resolve any conflict these days. The CPA partners are a testimony to this. Dr Khalil Ibrahim and many other educated people from Darfur supporting or belonging to the rebel organisations in Darfur should come to their senses and either agree with the DPA and end the fighting or amend the DPA if they disagree with it and come home. The people of Darfur have had their suffering exacerbated by the insistence to prolong the war. For how long do Darfurians have to suffer for peace to come? This suffering can come to an end but only and only if those who claim to lead the people in Darfur like Dr Khalil Ibrahim come to their senses by seeking peaceful means and not aimless wars.

May God Almighty rest the souls of all those who died in the recent attack launched by JEM on Omdurman in Peace.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Congratulations to SPLM EES Successful Democratic Exercise

Eastern Equatoria State (EES) concluded its SPLM State Congress at the end of April 2008. The congress elected Brig. Louis Lojore Lobong, of the National Security Organ, as its EES SPLM State Chairman. Brig. Lobong effectively replaces Brig. Louis Emor Ojetuk, the current governor of EES, and from now on, runs the affairs of the SPLM statewide.

SPLM constitution calls on its members to hold National, State, Counties or Provinces, Payams or Districts and Bomas or Localities congresses before the general congress. The congresses are supposed to elect their chairmen and other members of the executive to form the SPLM in their respective areas.

It is worth mentioning that SPLM had held their SPLM State Counties' Secretaries' conferences throughout the counties in March 2008. These counties' conferences, like congresses, elect their chairmen and members of their county councils. Each county is supposed to have a council in which its members, the councilors, debate – like in parliament – matters of importance in their counties. The same system applies to the other categories.

In these county council conferences one (1) out of ten counties had retained his position. The Magwi County Secretary is an SPLM who fought in the SPLA, while the rest are co-opted members of the SPLM from within their respective areas of presence. The ten newly elected SPLM County Secretaries, like their overall Chairman, Louis Lobong, officially unseat SPLM former chairmen from their positions in their respective counties.


There will be no need to get to the details of the SPLM democratic exercise in EES. But the least any genuine person could offer to this formal but successful exercise of democracy in EES is congratulations. There are others who are crying foul in some states within the South. This is because they have failed to follow the democratic trend and tenets which the EES SPLM members did follow. The democratic exercise in EES is a double victory: the democratic exercise itself; and the actual peaceful participation; within which patience, tolerance and the will to concede defeat were exercised. These are but common reactions in any democratic processes.

However, a lot in terms of tusks to be accomplished await these new leaders of SPLM in EES. The State has a lot of problems and these are created by sheer misunderstanding between the SPLM and other non-SPLM members in the State, including the NCP. These problems have caused the following:

Disunity between SPLM and non-SPLM members;
Land occupation & confiscation;
Abuse of authority;
Abuse of law;
Corruption; and


There is tension between the SPLM, NCP and non-SPLM members within EES. This is a very serious problem that needs to be looked into by calling for a state conference. This state conference should deal with issues that disunite the citizens of EES. In order to avoid disunity, EES citizenship must be placed above party lines and/or membership. EES lives forever but parties come and go – that is to say that EES people once lived without NCP and SPLM. However, to encourage the tension between SPLM and non-SPLM members in the State would amount to condoning disunity and seriously working to escalate it. The result of this is the current disunity in the State.


The insecurity in the State is resulting from proliferation of small but semi-automatic weapons in the State. The light and semi-automatic weapons are being used by cattle rustlers, individual and group criminals in the State. This has made EES as deadly as a war frontline. Therefore the State needs to disarm most, if not all, of those people who were trained by either the Sudan government or the SPLA during the war because they are now wrecking havoc in terms of cattle rustling and criminal acts committed on the innocent citizens in EES. The security of the State has to be equipped in order to handle issues of cattle rustling and any other armed situation be it individual or group.

Land Occupation & Confiscation

The State has of late entered into very serious issues of land grabbing, especially in Kapoeta, Torit and Magwi Counties. In Kapoeta, Torit and Magwi there are pieces of land or plots – owned plots – grabbed and occupied by Dinka Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees (DIDPRs) who have refused to repatriate home. Some of these people are the displaced during the war in Equatoria and those who were refugees in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.

No one refuses the DIDPRs land in Equatoria but they have to acquire it through legal means. But the idea that 'we have fought and as such deserve lands everywhere in the South' is meaningless. This is very much so because the Dinka tribe did not fight the war in the South alone; and that does not mean that those other non-Dinka tribesmen who fought the war in the South deserve lands in Dinka land.

The government of EES recently publicly informed owners of plots in Torit that if they don't come to develop their plots they will be confiscated. Meaning that owners of plots who may not in one way or another be able to go to the State immediately will have their plots confiscated. The State government currently categorizes former EDF members, now integrated into the Sudanese army, as unwanted NCP collaborators. The State government is uncomfortable with people who go to the State from Khartoum, especially from non-SPLM members.

The state has to design a workable policy through which repatriation of non-EES citizens back to their original homes is activated. The EES needs to form the Land Commission to deal with issues connected with land statewide in order to send a clear signal to its citizens that all deserve equal justice.

Abuse of Authority

Eastern Equatoria State is notorious with abuse of power. In 2006 the government of EES arrested and locked away its own minister of agriculture. A year later, it arrested, chained and locked up its own minister of finance. It arrested and locked up a humanitarian worker. It abducted and tortured a Joint Integrated Unit (JIUs) Major. It arrested and locked up an SAF Lt-Col. (Former EDF) who was to coordinate the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration of former EDF in the State. It arrested innocent citizens who might have, by mistake, crossed a red line deliberately made to encircle the governor's house. The successor of the chained finance minister in EES was also believed to have locked up a director in his ministry.

It should be noted by the new leadership that no one has the right to arrest and sentence another human being without the proper utilization of law through the existing legal structures that have to be strengthened. The interim State Constitution, like the South Sudan Interim Constitution, clearly says everybody is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

It is also known that the current government oftenly interferes with the affairs of the legislature in EES. There were attempts to impeach the EES governor in EES, a matter that angered the governor who interfered in the work of the legislature and helped to remove the former Speaker and replaced him with a lady who is currently the Speaker in EES.

The new leadership has to know that the legislature is one of the arms of government in EES. It is completely independent and needs no interference from either the executive or the judiciary. Thus, the new leadership has to work hard to end all forms of abuse of authority in EES.

Abuse of law

This is the same as the above because it also involves the abuse of authority. Abuse of authority includes the misbehaviour of SPLM soldiers within the towns of Torit and Kapoeta. Members of the SPLA JIUs clashed with police in Torit and killed a number of innocent civilians in Kapoeta.

If law is abused, sometimes by those who fought to ensure that such laws are put in place, what would be the impact of such on ordinary citizens? Organised forces that do not abide by laws bestowed upon the constitution by its own citizens ought to be taken for reorientation to learn more about their role in society. The state has to work hand in hand with the commanders of these organised forces and map out a serious cooperation to ensure that no SPLM soldier abuses the law.


The ministry of finance in EES was reported to have entered into some secret deals with a company in Uganda which supplied the State government with second hand cars instead of new ones. Apart from this there is nothing officially or unofficially that has been reported in terms of corruption. The issue of the vehicles was corruption. If it is true, then it must be discouraged by the new leadership, which must form anti-corruption commission to deal with corruption in the state.


The state needs to form anti-tribalism commission, at all levels in the state, to help the state government fight tribalism in all its forms. Trying to ignore this element of tribalism in the state would be like sanctioning a cancerous element that would slowly but surely destroy the state and its social fabric. Further, the people of EES cannot be in a position to accuse others of tribalism when tribalism exists and condoned in EES.


The current EES government which is still run by the former SPLM State Chairman, Aloysius Emor Ojetuk, should be able to understand that the success of Brig. Louis Lobong is based on a very serious political mobilization work. If His Excellency the governor had ignored this fact, Brig. Lobong and those who worked for him should not be blamed because they have understood that politics of isolation, exclusion and arrogance does not work and will never work. Thus, it will only be mature to accept the result and wait for another opportunity that the constitution may unveil in future. Any attempts aimed at revenging on the result of the general congress in any way would be counterproductive as they may encourage intra-party conflict within EES.

However, the reaction of the governor to the election results was commendable indeed. It was reported that the governor conceded defeat and congratulated Brig. Lobong for winning and referred to him as 'my chairman.' This is the political maturity of a high caliber. This political maturity should be developed by other members of EES citizenship so that EES could wheel forward along the path of true and sincere democracy.

In the same understanding, the chairman-elect in EES should also know that H.E. Lt-Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Chairman of SPLM, may and may not appoint him immediately as governor for EES. This could be attributable to many reasons and two of them are visible: maintenance of unity of SPLM rank and file within EES; and the fact that general elections are around the corner.

The unity of the SPLM rank and file in EES would be one of the first things that the chairman of SPLM could look into. The election of the SPLM State chairman by itself was an exercise within which a few hearts got broken. Those defeated members of SPLM in EES need to settle from the defeat they had received during the exercise. Thus, replacing the governor almost immediately could further exacerbate disunity and that is what the national SPLM chairman may be looking into.

The SPLM national chairman would also look into the fact that general elections are around the corner and there is no fear whatsoever to rush the appointment of SPLM EES and other States' Chairmen-elect as governors. Given their popularity in their respective States, there is no doubt that these SPLM State chairmen would win the elections come 2009. Thus, the EES chairman-elect needs to be patient, and more so, he should never think that his appointment is being delayed for a reason or two.