The New Dawn Charter sheds light on sticking points in its text that led some political forces to hedge

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

Although the New Daw Charter has been accepted and endorsed almost unanimously by the Sudanese political forces, activists and civil society organisations, but few political party members may have had some reservations on certain points in the text making them not to accept it wholeheartedly. This is expected in any human action where absolute perfection is impossible. Human beings are known not perfect, they are prone to err every now and then. Furthermore, difference in opinion does not spoil the intimacy. The National Umma Party (NUP), Popular Congress Party (PCP) and Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) seemed to have distanced themselves from the agreement saying they were rushed into signing and voiced objections over some of its clause signed.

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) which is formed by four armed movements, namely, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement Minni Arko Minawi faction (SLA-MM) , the Sudan Liberation Movement Abdul Wahid Ahmed Nour faction (SLA-AWMN0 and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement – Northern Sector (SPLA/M-N) has culminated its Vision to solve Sudan’s problems by issuing the New Daw Charter, which have  been signed on Saturday January 5, 2013 by Sudanese political parties gathered under the umbrella of the  National Consensus Forces (NCF) and Civil Society Organizations which include youth, students and women. Nevertheless, there have been five areas in the New Dawn Document which needed further review. Bearing in mind that the New Dawn Charter is an open book which allows additions, deletions and amendments or to be subjected to further review or discussions in its various clauses and accepts the other opinion provided that is in the best interest of the Sudanese people. The five items are:

1) The length of the transition period of 4 years is thought by some as too long: This has been addressed by the facts that the period can not be less than four years given  the thorny issues of Sudan that need to be addressed.

2) Voluntary unity and the right to self-determination: voluntary unity in the Charter of New Dawn is not a new point; it has been put in the Asmara, the capital of the State of Eritrea, under the banner of the Fateful Issues Asmara Conference by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on June 23, 1995. Whereas self-determination, all peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

The principle of self-determination is prominently embodied in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations. At this juncture, it is noteworthy to refer to past events when the people of Southern Sudan at their first Juba Conference on June 12, 1947, .which represented as the first political rally involving the entire southern political spectrum. During that conference the southners demanded federal system of governance within a united Sudan; but the political elites in the North denied that right for the people of Southern Sudan, echoing the motto “No Federation only One nation”! And thus the Sudan missed the opportunity and bitterness felt by the Southerners stayed on to acquire the right of selfdeterminationthrough the Naivasha Comprehensive Peace agreement (CPA) on 9th January  2005, granting Southern Sudanautonomy for six years and eventual Cecession after a referendum held on January 2011and the establishment of a separate state of South Sudan on 9th July  2011. Political ineptitude and addiction to political failure have been the reasons behind catastrophic and disastrous fate of Sudan.

3) Relationship between religion and the state – the secular state system: the separation of state institutions from religion has been included because Religion has become divisive factor. Sudan had experienced two ‘Religious States’ imposed by the military regimes.The first one by the May 25th 1979 Government of Marshal JaafarMohammed al- Nimeiri, better known as “September laws” and the second ‘Religious States’ has been brought about by the military regime of Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir that imposed Sharia laws by force on all the Sudanese people, even on the owners of religions other than Islam – Christians and other denominators. Ironically, the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime committed hienous crimes which included Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes and Genocide on the people of Darfur who are all Sunni Muslims. The Sudanese people who are devout Muslims do not need religious extremism or a new idiological Doctrine that expiate every person who does not share or agree with its opinion. Unfortunately, Religious hatred incitement has become rife during the reign of the NIF regime in Sudan. As an example to this, the fundamentalist NCP supporters demolished the Episcopal Parish Church of Saint John, in Haj Yousif neighbourhood of Khartoum on Monday 18 June 2012. Furthermore, the regime’s security forces had occupaied and confiscated the property of the Council of Churches and Sudan Aid premises in Nyala, Darfur, on 23 April 2012. Moreover, the Evangelical Church Bible School was destroyed and books including the Holy Bible, burned on the 21 April 2012 in the full view of the police, in Gerief West in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Secularization represents a desired approach which should therefore be promoted and sustained with the perspective of a universal vision of the protection of human rights and, especially, freedom of conscience, belief and religion. Secular system of governance is not synonymous with atheism as the general public believes. The Queen of the United Kingdom is the head of the Anglican Church while the UK government tracks the Secular System. It is noteworthy to mention an important fact that the governments ruled Sudan after the Independence in the Democratic era had excercised power in the country applying a Secular-style of governance. It is important to bear in mind that the governments which referred to were formed by two religious Sect parties. They are Umma Party (UP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), under the auspices of the Ansar Sect religious leader and under the auspices of the Khatmiyya Sect religious leader respectively.Ironically, the Sudanese Islamic Movement (IM), with its multiple derivatives of names (Muslim Brotherhood/Islamic Charter Front/National Islamic Front…) had participated in all the foregoing democratic coalition governments in Sudan without objection by raising the point that those were Secular regimes! It seems that religious awakening has come to the elements of NCP regime which has committed all kinds of sins forbidden by the True religion Islam.

 4) Restructuring of the security institutions, the army, the police and civil service institutions is based on the fact that all those institutions belonged to the National Congress Party (NCP) and they are no longer national: Therefore, all the foregoing institutions will be subject to revision and restrucuring to become immune against the penetration of the elements of the National Congress Party. Currently, there are no institutions in Sudan which are not part and parcil of the security establishment of the (NCP). And thus, the sections of the (NCP) regime’s so-called National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) diverge into different Departments and various Ministries in the interests of supporters of the National Congress Party.  Obviously, that state of affairs is not sustainable and justifies thorough review and rectification of the anomaly.

5) The two other points that have been raised by some political parties against the New Dawn Charter’s pledge to use Military force to change the National Congress Party (NCP) regime are thoght to be flimsy arguments. The points are:

a) The claim that the NCP government will react more harshly in response to use of force by the opposition to oust it by narrowing the prospects of freedoms and increased repression seems naïve and contrary to reality where oppression and repression previls on daily basis including closing up cultural centres run by Civil Society Organisations, let alone what happens to University students in the form of arbitrary arrests, detention and extrajudicial killings and excutions.

b) And the second point in the argument which is the fear of some political party leaders, namely al-Sadiq al-Mahdi leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) of the possibility that the rebel groups who change the regime by force are likely to ‘Monopolise Power’ after the overthrow of the National Islamic Front / National Congress Party and exclude the other partners. The rebel groups have political institutions in their constitutions that honour covenants and agreements.  Armed movements beside armies they possess political institutions and diplomatic structures and public statutes and constitutions. And for example, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has plethora of institutions besides its military chain of command. The political institutions of JEM include the General Congress, the Legislative Council, the Executive Office, presidential Advisors and the Secretariats which are Ministries and judicial body and are a government committed to International Conventionse portfolios and along to judicial body or Judicial Secretariat. Therefore,JEM and its other counterparts are Governments-in the making abiding by International Conventions unlike  the the National Congress  Party regime under which  there are no freedoms, repression and killing of innocent people becoming the norm during the 23 lean years of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of the greatest achievements of the New Dawn Charter is its ability to unite the Sudanese opposition to agree to overthrow the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime by the use of all means, peaceful civil protests as the preferred means, and establish a democratic state institutions replete with freedoms, justice and equality where Citizenship will be the sole identity for all Sudanese people without discrimination for obtaining rights and performing duties. At this juncture, one may say quoting Nelson Mandella:” And we will not surrender; we have no choice but to respond strongly and by all means available to us to defend our people and our future and our freedom. “

The Document codenamed the’ Charter of the New Dawn’ has explicitly answered the International Community, which has been asserting that the armed movements in Sudan can not unify, the very argument that frequency propagated by the (NIFLNCP) governmen) when complaining to the international community and saying   that it can not find a partner to negotiate with among the numerous Darfur rebel groups because they are divided and scattered into splinter factions and have no clear unified vision for the resolution of the Darfur issue.

The’ Charter of the New Dawn’ presents a collective vision for a comprehensive solution to all the issues of Sudan, including the Darfur crisis,  crisis in South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile (Ingassana) after overthrowing  the National Congress Party (NCP)  regime which is responsible for the endless rutheless  wars and the restructuring of the New Sudanese state on the basis of justice and equality that  make citizenship the identity for all the Sudanese people to obtain rights and perform duties and nothing else, regardless of  their individual identities, or their ethnicity, religious denomination, regional affiliation , colour , mother tongue and cultural background.

At this stage of their revolution, the Sudanese people say, addressing the international community and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and its permanent members that the crisis in Sudan does not need more of new Resolutions, but only in need of implementation of the numerous resolutions issued by the United Nations, many of which remained ink on paper. Furthermore, the International Community needs to realise that the Sudanese people have opted for toppling the genocidal regime of the NCP led by the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted fugitive Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir by all the available means, which include Military Force and Popular Uprising; but not to negotiate with it Any new partial agreements will not solve the Sudanese crisis, but would compound it., given the lack of commitment to implement agreements and non honouring covenants that the regime of the NIF is renowned for. The overthrow of the National Congress Party (NCP) regime is a strategic objective for a Sudan orbiting and enjoying freedom and democracy, sustainable peace and a decent life for its people.

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com

 

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