Dr. John Garang’s 1987 Heritage Interview with Arop Madut

Posted: July 24, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël in History
Tags: , , ,

(Heritage) – Khartoum, Monday, Nov., 2, 1987, (PAGE 4)

Colonel Dr. John Garang Speaks To Heritage On (War and Peace in the Sudan)–
1.

Last year Heritage interviewed leading personalities at home and abroad. The interview was a part of the paper’s contribution to the present search for peace in the country.
First Heritage interviewed Comrade Mengistu Haile Mariam in Addis Ababa in December last year. Comrade Mengistu generously offered his views on the subject of peace and how it could be achieved. His was followed by Prime Minister Sadiq el Mahdi, who also gave his views about the subject, last April.
Then early last month our Editor Arop Madut who conducted the interviews with the two leaders, flew down to Nairobi where he had the chance to talk to the SPLM/SPLA leader, Col. Dr. John Garang de Mabior. Below is the full text of the interview. The rest will be serialised in the subsequent issues:

Arop Madut:

Q: 1 From what one has learned so far so you were not satisfied with the terms of the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 on the South:: yet you accepted to be absorbed into the Sudan Army. Your brief comment:

DR JOHN GARANG:

A: It is true that I was not satisfied with the terms of the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972. It’s also true that I was absorbed into the Sudan National Army when the agreement was implemented. Not only was I dissatisfied with the Addis Ababa Agreement on the Southern Sudan, I was not satisfied with the objectives and the aims of the Anya Nya as a movement. This was because the Anya Nya at that time stood for the secession of southern Sudan to form a separate sovereign state. Before I joined the Anya Nya Movement, I went to the camp of General Joseph Lagu, the Commander of the Anya Nya to brief me about the objectives of his movement. From his briefings it was clear that his Movement was a separatist movement. I told him point blank that I was opposed to secession movements. I left in disappointment. I decided to go and continue with my graduate studies. After reconsidering my position after six months, I decided to join the Anya Nya Movement despite my disagreement !
with its objectives. These objectives, I thought, could not be changed unless one did participate in the movement itself. So as a matter of principle, I joined the Anya Nya with a view of making fundamental changes in its aims and objectives. I have, needless to say, been on record as early as 1970 about the terms of the unity of the country, which should therefore be on new basis. Our plans to make new changes in the Anya Nya movement were pre-empted by the Addis Ababa Agreement that ended the 17 years war that has been ranging in Southern Sudan since 1955. Our work to transform the Anya Nya Movement from a reactionary to a genuine revolutionary movement was thereby brought to a halt. Meanwhile the agreement was accepted by Southerners because jobs were given. The ruling clique in Khartoum had then realized that what the Janubiin (Southerners) wanted were jobs. So why not give them jobs? Joseph Lagu was therefore taken into the National Army as a Major General, Abel Alier as a Minister and I was absorbed into the Sudan Army.

Q: 2 Can you enlighten us as to why you were opposed to the Addis Ababa Agreement before you could see it operational?
A: We were opposed to the terms of the Addis Agreement because its basic terms and the basis for the Agreement were first to absorb the Anya Nya into the National Army, second to integrate it after absorption and third to destroy it. So you have a process were the main aim was to achieve a cheap victory over the Anya Nya forces. In brief the concrete basis for the Addis Ababa Agreement was to disarm the Anya Nya forces that had proved formidable in the battlefield through peace. All the other coding; vis-à-vis the regional self-government Act, the ministerial posts and all things connected with the local autonomy were only peripheral. The main objective to be exact was to pull out the armed component of the Anya Nya Movement, to neutralise it and finally destroy it.

Q: 3 Since you said all the Anya Nya officers were aware about the harm and the strategic plans of the Sudan govt. in regard to the future of the Movement, why did you accept to be absorbed into the Sudan National Army?
A: We tried to oppose it but our voices were few and we realised that it was not going to be successful and opportune because the masses of the people in the south of Sudan were not prepared to support our move at that time to continue with the war. So we made the analysis of the situation. Late Brigadier Emmanuel Abur, Lewa (Major General) Joseph Kuol Amum – now with us, myself and many young officers, sat down, analysed the situation and decided to oppose the Agreement. After the meeting we circulated a document to that effect. It was sent to all the Anya Nya major camps in Bahr El Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile Provinces. That Document should now be with the Sudan Military Intelligence office in Khartoum. As part of your journalistic research, you can try to find it. However, that document was betrayed by someone we use to call Giant (Saturnino). This man surrendered it to General Joseph Lagu in Juba and one of our officers Kamilo was arrested in Lobone. Gen. Lagu gave this document to the Military Intelligence Branch and I believe it is still in their file in Khartoum. This was we thought, going to be a futile opposition because the South, the springboard of our opposition was not prepared to back us. Many southern people were prepared for jobs than the continuation with the war. The priority was rather who would get what jobs. Who would get PS, who would get a group VII, who would be a director, who would be a Minister. On our side in the Anya Nya Armed Forces, we were struggling for ranks. The atmosphere was therefore not conducive for the continuation with the war. We recognised that people wanted peace not another war. Any popular struggle, naturally must involve the people. So seeing that the people were not ready for the continuation of the war we thought it would be futile to fight on. We thus suspended our activities, and knowing the character of the Agreement we accepted to be absorbed into the national army. Of course we were aware that the contradictions and the conflicts.

Q: 4 Many people have been led to believe that the reasons that led to the rise of the SPLA/M was the division of the South into mini-regions and the subsequent introduction of the Islamic Sharia Laws in 1983. Would you agree with this assessment?
A: I would not agree with this assessment and you would definitely agree with me that it was not the ‘Kokora’ or the division of the South into small regions or the introduction of the Islamic Sharia laws that led to the rise of the SPLA/SPLM. Of course these factors did have some bearing on the said situation. What actually triggered off the rebellion was, not these issues. We went to the bush before the South was divided. Although the discussion about the division of the South had been going on for a long time the South was divided in May while the Sharia Law was introduced in September. To be fair, what triggered off the rebellion was the plan to transfer the absorbed Nya Nya forces to the North and thereby integrating them all over the Sudanese armed forces where they would become individuals there and there thus eventually; through old age, premature pension, death and dismissals, the phenomenon of the Anya Nya force within the Sudanese army would disappear. This, in reality, was the main objective of Addis Ababa. This was why we precisely opposed the terms of the Addis Ababa Agreement. I had predicted it, and was proved right.

Q: 5 Do we understand that you were during your absence from the country in constant touch with those whom you believe would help you launch a revolutionary movement?
A: Definitely we were in frequent contact with each other. We were not only in contacts, we were active. We were even engaged in sabotage activities in places like Wau, Malakal and other places. We were active during the ten years between 1972-1982 planning to launch the Peoples Revolution.

Q: 6 Many people have been made to believe that the war you are waging in the South against the Khartoum govt. has been imposed on you by certain circumstances. Would you agree to this statement?
A: It depends on the connotation of war being imposed on me, or the SPLA. Essentially the war was not imposed on me but on the Sudanese people by certain circumstances. It has not been imposed on me as an individual. As an individual I cannot afford to fight the Sudan Government or the Sudan Army. There should be objective conditions that can make a people angry to force them fight a war.

Q: 7 What I meant by the war being imposed on you is that, you were on annual leave in Bor town when the battalion 105 mutiny took place that you took over when the commander of the rebel garrison Major Kerubino was wounded. In other words many people believe that you did not plan this war, you were just dragged into it.
A: It is not true that the war was imposed on me by the circumstances you have just described. This is what some people say to explain their arguments. It may be the timing to start the movement that might have been imposed on me by the said circumstances. For your information, the Bor incident of May 1983 was not a mutiny by Battalion 105 as it is being claimed in certain quarters. We have been planning to start this movement and Bor was not our primary target. Our plan was to move onto Juba, Capture it and make it our springboard to launch the movement. If the movement had started in Bor it was because Major General Siddiq Al Banna, the then commander of the Southern Command who wanted to pre-empt our move struck first. In reality, our plan to launch the present movement started in February 1983. At that time Comrade Chagai who is now our commander in Bil Pam and who was our runner came to Khartoum in February for consultation concerning our plan. On his arrival, we discussed the possibility and plans for me to come to Malakal in order to coordinate our activities. And because Salva Kiir was an intelligence Officer in Malakal, it was therefore possible for us to coordinate our activities.
After we had discussed our plans, Chagai returned to Malakal. On his arrival to Malakal, Salva Kiir sent an urgent telegram urging me to come to Malakal to attend the sickness of my brother whom he said was extremely sick. He said my presence in Malakal was a must. I took a seven-day leave to attend my brother’s sickness. Of course I did not have a brother in Malakal let alone the fact that he was sick. So I came to Malakal with William Abdalla Chuol, a member of our organization, and who had been living with me for three weeks, in my house at Haj Yousif in Khartoum. After several meetings in Malakal, we decided to send William Abdalla Chuol to Gordon Kong of the Anya Nya Two at Bill Pam so as to put all his forces on full alert for the impending assault on Juba in August 1983. Having coordinated our plans, I went back to Khartoum. Our plan was, that the Anya Nya Two forces were to assemble in Pachala and Waat areas. William Nyuon our present Chief of Staff was to command Waat and Kerubino Kuanyin to command Bor. The operation was to be launched from Bor, with the forces in Pibor Pachala, Akobo and Waat giving support. We thought that if the assault on Juba failed we would have, at least, had some base to continue with the movement. In May, Chagai came back to Khartoum with the information that the situation was deteriorating fast and that the assault on Juba planned for August was not going to be possible. So I took annual leave in order to go to Juba in order to see the exact situation. If the situation, in my assessment was not going to reach August, I would therefore proceed to Kapoeta to make sure that the Battalion 117, one of our strong support units support our move. Of course, in order to attack Juba we would need uprising in our garrisons, which were being transferred to the North. We knew of course that Battalions 117 in Kapoeta and 111 at Rumbek would be ready to join us. As for battalion 110 in Aweil, we could not count very much on it because most of the soldiers from this unit.
On my arrival to Juba I found that the situation was tense. There was the question of money for the soldiers, which was reported to have triggered off the rebellion in Bor, Pibor, Pachala and Akobo. This issue kept the people moving between Bor and Juba in effort to diffuse the situation. In my assessment, the situation had already reached a point where it could no longer be diffused. The attack on Bor was in fact imminent. I had sent my family ahead with instructions to proceed to Bor and that I would follow later. When I reached Juba on the 9th of May I put up with Peter Cirillo, who was Deputy to Siddiq el Banna, Commander of the Southern Command, “of course, when you are planning illegal or under-ground activities it is always best to be close to the Authority. So in Khartoum I was very close to Generals Yousif Ahmed Yousif and Sowar el Dahab. I was also very close to General Abu Kadok, the army top brass. We used to have dinners together. My calculation was that if there were intelligent reports about my activities, their reaction would be ……. “John waled kues wa mamumkin Yamoul Hajat zeeda…” John is a good boy, and it is not possible for him to do things like this. As I said before I put up with Peter Cyrillo the present Governor of Equatoria. I would dress up every morning and go to the office with him.
On the 12th of May, I went to the office of General Siddiq al Banna. On seeing me he said “John when did you come to Juba” “three days ago I replied. “What do you want here and where are you going to? (“Mashi Fi Eijaza syiatak’) I am going on leave sir,” I replied. He said, “Inta fi Eijaza….Inta men ayi mahal?” Are you on leave and where do you come from?” “From Bor,” I answered. I could see his face suddenly changed. John if I were you, I would not go to Bor. Why sir, I am an officer on leave and Bor is my home. I have officially been given leave by the General Headquarters, Khartoum. Moreover I have my agriculture project in Bor which I intend to organise”. I explained. He said, “If I were you John, I would not go to Bor. To be frank with you John, General Al Banna continued. Those of Kerubino have rebelled and as far as the Sudanese Army is concerned, Bor, Pachala and Pibor are no longer part of the Sudanese Army… They are rebels. If you go there and if they don’t kill you it means that you are with them.” I am very happy with your advice Sir. But what you have told me has made it very necessary for me to go to Bor. “Why”? He asked. “I have sent my family to Bor four days ago. My family came ahead of me and are in Bo,” I replied. So, with your permission, Sir, If I leave tomorrow for Bor, go and collect my family and come back the following day, will that be acceptable to you Sir? If you stick to that programme, if you go tomorrow and come back the next day, there will be no problem.

So, I said “thank you very much syiatak. You are really a senior officer. This is an advice a senior officer like you can give to his junior officers.” “But syiatak.” I continued. “I am happy because I am a senior officer in the Sudanese Army. I am also the Deputy Director of the Military Research Unit. If there is something of that nature, I should have not been given my leave in the first place. In the second place, I should have been briefed in Khartoum. I don’t blame you anyway but those of Khartoum who gave me leave without briefing me and allowed me to go to Bor where there are military operations. This is unbecoming. But nevertheless you have saved the situation ‘Syiatak’. That is why it is always necessary to have a good commander. You have briefed me about the situation in Bor. I will go to collect my family tomorrow. Thank you syiatak”. I gave him a salute and left the office.
Siddiq Al Banna might have been a big fool. He knew the exact situation. As a veteran soldier, he should have not allowed me to go to Bor. However, I left for Bor the following day. It was on the 13th of May when I reached Bor. On the 14th Salva Kiir Mayardit, one of our co-ordinators in Malakal sent us an urgent message. The message stated that Bor would be attacked within the next 48 hours. That the Buffalo-planes were transporting troops to Akobo. That troops were being massed in Akobo in order to attack Pibor and Pachala. That Bor would be attacked from Juba. From this message, we knew that the attack was coming and made preparations for it. We made the home of Dr. Lueth as an assembly place for discussing war plans. There was a Sudan Army company under a major at Langbar, north of Bor and the Battalion 105 at Malual-chaal south of Bor under Kerubino.
So we made a brief meeting about how to proceed with the war. I told Kerubino that since I was on leave I would go to Langbar to tie down the company there. I told him that if we were attacked from the rear at Langbar and attacked from Juba would be a disaster since it would dislodge us altogether.
So on May 14, I went to Langbar as planned, to be around as a senior officer. Abel Alier was there. And in order to make friends with the Commander at Langbar, we used to play cards with him and other officers. So on the morning of May 16, at 5 am the attack came from Juba as expected. I then sent Kerubino to command the troops of Battalion 105 and went to Langbar to save the situation from being attacked from the rear. At one time the Radio communication set of the attacking forces from Juba went off the air. So the commander of Langbar was ordered to send a force to Bor to see what was going on there. He gave me the message and asked me what he could do.
As a senior officer, I said, I advise that you do nothing. Because, I continued, “You are a company and if you send a platoon you would be left with only two platoons, and if the rebels come here they will over-run your camp. Moreover you have Sayed Abel Alier here. You have the white men of the Jonglei Projects and those of the De groot here. These are your responsibilities. What had happen to the Radio we do not know. But it could be some technical fault”. I assured him. “So let us sit and wait for two to three hours. There may come an answer from Juba informing us that they are on the air again”. So he listened to my advice and did not send any force. After three hours the reply came asking him not to send any force because the Radio set was on the air again. That was one occasion.
The second occasion, was when Kerubino was shot in the arm and was taken to Bor Hospital. The commander of Langbar received another message from the attacking forces that Kerubino was shot. The message ordered him to prepare a force to go to the Hospital. He gave me the message. I told him not to go to the Hospital because, I said, the people in Juba might not know what might be going on in Bor theatre of operations. I told him that Kerubino might have not come to the Hospital alone, may be with more than a company being aware that you have only a company here. He might have come with two companies. If he has a company you need three companies to attack him because the rebels are in a better position. They are better prepared and ready to repulse an attack on them than we are”. So I asked him to leave anything to me. I told him that I would diffuse the situation because I had been the commander of Battalion 105 before. I told him that, as their former commander, most of the rebels knew me and that they would not harm me if I go to them. I told him that I would go to the Hospital and if Kerubino was wounded and in the Hospital, if he was there, I would come back and give him the answer. I assured him that I would come back to decide what kind of action to take. He was happy!!!
So I went to the Hospital. We took Kerubino and sent him across the river. I then returned to Langbar and told the Company Commander that Kerubino was taken to the Hospital and that he should send the message to Juba that Kerubino was brought to the Hospital, treated and had been taken away by the rebels. He immediately sent the message. So from what I have just told you, you could see that the claim that the war was imposed on me by circumstances is not true. We have been planning since 1970s to launch this movement.

Heritage, Khartoum. Monday 9, Nov., 1987, pp4.

Q: 8 Can you brief us as to what at the onset led to the split in the SPLM, which gave birth to the Anya Nya II organization? What actually went wrog? How are you trying to resolve it?
A: This is another great misunderstanding that there was a split in the SPLM/SPLA movement that gave birth to Anya Nya Two organization. This is not true. These are two different organizations with totally different aims and objectives. Anya Nya Two started as a result of the Akobo mutiny in 1975 led by Lt. Vincent Kwany, in which Colonel Abel Chol was killed. The Akobo mutineers then organized themselves into Anya Nya Two whose aim was to revive the Anya Nya One Movement disbanded in 1972 following the Addis Ababa Agreement. The Anya Nya Two at that time was supported by Libya and Bil Pam was their guerrilla camp before we came.
When I was at the General Headquarters in Khartoum, we used to be briefed about Bil Pam. The reports we had is that Gordon Koang had 7,000 strong, that Yagoub Ismail was with several thousand men at arms and Abdalla Zakaria had many thousands…. So you can see the Anya Nya Two was already an existing movement before the birth of the SPLA. There is no question, therefore, of the split in the SPLM that gave birth to the rise of the Anya Nya Two Movement. In short, the Anya Nya Two Movement was formed eight years before the SPLA came into existence. The objective of the Anya Nya Two from the onset of its inception was again for the separation of the Southern Sudan from the rest of the country.
So when we came in 1983 we organized the SPLM/SPLA. The Anya Nya Two meanwhile continued as an independent movement. Our objective was therefore to influence the Anya Nya Two and to have them join us. The Anya Nya Two, on the other hand, was trying to influence us to join them. Thus at the start (1983), we had two movements with different objectives.
While the SPLM was for the unity of the Sudan, the Anya Nya two was for the separation of the Southern Sudan. Our immediate task after we formed the SPLM/SPLA was to try to regroup the scattered fighting forces that we found, politicise them, win their confidence and make them organic to the SPLA. It is worth to note here that the Anya Nya Two was not only confined to Upper Nile. It was stronger in Bahr El Ghazal.
So we succeeded in getting the whole of the Anya Nya Two of Bahr El Ghazal and thereby incorporated it into the SPLA. Most of the Anya Nya Two in Upper Nile were also incorporated into the SPLA. Some of them are now holding high ranks in the SPLA. Major John Kulang who is an alternate member of the SPLA/SPLM Military High Command was a member of the Anya Nya Two organization when he joined us.
So in reality, it was Anya Nya Two that was split; some of them the majority I should say, joined us while the rest remained with Gordon Koang and continued to maintain their separate identity. Some of the politicians who came with us following the Bor incident notably Samuel Gai Tut, Akuot Atem and Gabriel Gany who essentially opted for separatism joined Anya Nya Two and managed to take over its leadership. These politicians had assumed that since the Nuer nationality was at the Ethiopian Sudanese border, they would keep away anybody coming to join us. This strategy led, sadly to say, to the deaths of many people who were coming from Bahr El Ghazal in Fangak.
So it was our failure to win all of the Anya Nya Two that led to the continuation of the Anya Nya Two as a movement. The failure of the Anya Nya Two, on the other hand to get us into their movement, let to the existence of two movements.
Later on Anya Nya Two, which was a genuine movement fighting for the separation of Southern Sudan, was transformed into a government militia. The brainchild of this tribal militia was Daniel Koat Matthews, the then Governor of Upper Nile. We have now in our file the copy of the letter addressed to His Excellency President Nimeiri.
The content of that letter was aimed at the destruction of the SPLM/SPLA by organising tribal militias. The Anya Nya Two was thus superseded by the SPLM, so to speak. From thence on the Anya Nya Two through Daniel Koat Mathew’s agitation, became a government militia just like the Murahelin forces of Southern Kordofan, like the Mundari militia, like the Ismail Konyi Militia and like the Fertit militia of Western Bahr El Ghazal. It therefore became the aim of the SPLA movement never to allow or give free hand to these militiamen to divert the people’s revolution. The policy of organising tribal militias needless to say, was started by Nimeiri and Daniel Koat, continued by Sowar El Dahab and is being promoted by Sadiq El Mahdi, It is therefore the aim of the SPLM do deny Sadiq El Mahdi or whoever is in Khartoum to continue to use these militias. We shall try and struggle to influence them. We have more and better arguments for them to join us than for them to join the Sudanese Army. The militias are beginning now to realise that, they have been deceived by the government for quite a long time. Good example is that Gordon Koang at one time was promised that he would be appointed the commander of the Southern Command and the Anya Nya Two the Government of the Southern Sudan (HEC) if his movement could succeed to defeat the SPLM/SPLA. But then as the governments in Khartoum came and went these promises were not honoured, Gordon Koang did not become the commander of the Southern Command with the rank of Major General as promised nor did the Anya Nya Two become the regional Government in Juba. At the end the Anya Nya Two started to realise that they were being taken for a rough ride. We have explained to them these things from time to time. They have at last realised these false promises, which are now crucial to the present ongoing reconciliation process. As I have said before these are politicians who take advantage of the name of Anya Nya Two in order to make money in Khartoum, Nairobi or other place

Q: 9 What about the claim that the quarrel between the SPLA and the Anya Nya II started in Addis Ababa when you arrived there in 1983. It was alleged that you held election as to who should have been the chairman of the movement. The report had it that Akuot Atem was elected the first chairman of the SPLM, that Samuel Gai Tut was to be the commander in chief and you the chief of staff. It was alleged that the split came as a result of leadership as well as ideological differences. What is your brief comment on these allegations?
A: This is not true. There were no elections held and there would have not been any elections since we did not have constituencies to hold some sort of election. A simple explanation is that the SPLA was formed in side the Sudan, and by the soldiers who defected from the Sudanese Army. Whereas, the Anya Nya Two was a movement that was already in existence by the time we formed the SPLM/SPLA.
The question which arose at the time we arrived there was whether the new comers that where pouring out of the country were going to identify themselves with the SPLA or with Anya Nya Two. Of course it was a matter of choice and those of Akuot Atem, Samuel Gai Tut and Gabriel Gany decided to join Anya Nya Two. In fact everyone was free to join any of the two Movements without any quarrel. The quarrel only erupted, when the Anya Nya Two was transformed into a government militia by Daniel Koat. Otherwise there were no conflicts between the two organisations before the transformation of Anya Nya Two from a genuine secessionist Movement to a government militia.

Q: 10 It is now four years since you launched SPLA movement. Looking back today, would you say the objectives for which it was launched are being realised?
A: Looking at the four years of our struggle, I would say, yes, the objectives are being realised. The Primary objective is of course the unity of the Sudan, which should be on new basis. We are trying to build a new Sudan free of religious and racial discrimination, a Sudan that is free from the two families rule. We want to build a new Sudan devoid of all kinds of sectarianism. In the past our people used to talk about north and the southern conflict. Now I am glad to say, the Sudanese are no longer talking about the solution of the so called problem of the Southern Sudan but that of the Sudan as a whole.

Q: 11 The Prime Minister Sadiq el Mahdi has been quoted as saying that your forces have been meeting tremendous difficulties in the battle fields against the strong Sudanese army. That they are being pushed back every time they try to take to offensive. What is the situation in the battlefields?
A: That might be Sadiq’s wish that the SPLA forces are suffering in the battle fields. But facts are there for anybody to see.
The true picture about the situation is that when we met with Sadiq in July last year it was clear that he was going to launch a massive military offensive against the SPLA having achieved the type of peace he wanted. This was obvious from his face. I even told him, Mr. Prime Minister don’t go and do what I see in your eyes. Don’t go and launch a military offensive against the SPLA. Don’t try this because you will not be able to defeat the SPLA. I told him further that if he wanted to defeat it, he should go and recruit six hundred thousand new recruits. Then he would be able to attack us. But I cautioned him that if he recruited six hundred thousand he would definitely recruit them from the south, the east and the west of Sudan. These are the areas of recruitment into the Sudanese Army.
Mr. Prime Minister, I assure you that six hundred thousand this would be good for the SPLA. Because, you will recruit them, train them, arm them and then deploy them against us. When you deeply deploy them against us one third of these recruits will defect to us”. I warned the Prime Minister. This is how the SPLA was formed and this is how it thrives. Two hundred thousand out of the six hundred thousand will surely join us. I wanted to warn him, that in order for a conventional army to fight these two who would then be guerrillas, you need a ratio of one to ten. To fight the two hundred thousand of your own creation which will defect to us in addition to the existing SPLA forces, you need another army of Two ‘Million’. This will go on indefinitely. So Mr. Prime Minister don’t attempt to do this”. I concluded.
He did not listen to my advice. In stead he went and launched a massive military operation against us. He was even quoted as boasting that he would celebrate the 1987 Intafadha (April Uprising) in Buma our Headquarters. So, we took the Prime Minister’s challenge very seriously, took all the necessary measures and effectively repulsed his offensive. We did not only repulse the massive military offensive but the Prime Minister did not celebrate the Al Intifadha in Buma. In stead we captured the strategic town of Pibor which is not very far from Buma and which we still hold. We also captured another strategic town of Jekou, which we are still holding. Most recently we captured Mayom in Bentiu area, which we also are holding. We have now extended the war to Western Equatoria Province where we were not there before. Major James Wani Igga Alternate member of the SPLA/SPLM Political-Military High Command is now on the Zairian border. We have also extended the war to Southern Kordofan and Major Yousif Kuwa Mekki Alternate member of the SPLA/SPLM is the Zonal Commander there. We have also extended the war to Southern Blue Nile.
So, to come to your question, the Prime Minister’s massive military offensive has effectively been halted. On the contrary, the SPLA is on the move. The situation on the ground is therefore very favourable to the SPLM/SPLA. That the SPLA is on the move is not a claim by us, but a truth. We have more than 200 prisoners of war and they are in our POW camps. Lt. Colonel Salim Saed former commander of Jekou himself talked over Radio SPLA. It was very clear from Colonel Salim’s speech, as a man who had been in a trench for a long time, and who knows the heat of the battle, that the situation is in our favour. He is, in fact, a better authority to speak the truth about what is going on in War Zone One, than Sadiq. The army in the South knows better how the war is going on there, not Sadiq who has never been in a trench. On my part, I spent eight hours in a trench during the capture of Jekou. I am therefore in a better position to know what is actually going on in the South. Prime Minister Sadiq has never been to the war theatre. He is either not being well briefed by his commanders or he deliberately ignores the facts.

Q: 12 Certain quarters inside and outside the Sudan do claim that foreign hands are behind the SPLA successes in the battlefields against the Sudanese army. They point accusing fingers at Ethiopia, USSR, Cuba, GDR, as being on the top of the lists. What is your reaction to these accusations?
A: This is a complete nonsense. We have never had a single foreigner fighting on our side in the battles we have been engaged in ever since the war started in 1983: and we will not in the future accept any foreigners to fight on our side. This is a Sudanese war and therefore a purely internal affairs. It originated within the Sudanese body-politic. It is a known fact that the first soldiers of the SPLA were from battalion 105 and 104, and does not need any expert explanation. So, there are no foreign personnel in our army. The charge that there are foreigners helping us are just mere malicious propaganda. However, all the Sudanese public is all aware that there are no foreigners in our forces.
Before we launched the SPLM/SPLA, I was a Colonel in the Sudanese Army not in the Ethiopian, GDR, or Cuban Army, I was in Khartoum and many officers, like Kerubino Kwanyin, William Nyuon, Arok Thon, Daniel Awet, Bona Baang and many others were in the Sudanese Army. Other officers were in the Sudanese civil service or other sectors of Sudanese life. Dr. Lam Akol and Dr. Riek Machar were lecturers at the University of Khartoum. James Wani Igga was working in Juba. Kuol Manyang was the Director of the Multi-Purpose Training Centre in Juba. John Kulang was in the Sudanese Army. These officers are members in the SPLA/SPLM Political-Military High Command.
There is absolutely no foreigners fighting on our side. On the contrary, it is Sadiq Al Mahdi who used foreigners. He invaded the Sudan in 1976 with murtazagha (mercenaries). The murtazagha forces were crushed simply because they were foreigners or at least there were foreign elements in that force. The Sudanese Army took it as a challenge that foreigners were invading the Sudan. Where as we have been able to maintain our ground, made gains and consolidate our positions for the last four years. If we did not base our movement on the Sudanese people we would have been dislodged a long time ago.

Q: 13 In regards to logistics, where do you get your arms and ammunitions?
A: When we launched the movement in 1983, we started with the arms and ammunitions of Battalion 104/105. In 1984 we got a windfall of armaments and ammunitions from Libya. A lot of people say we got our arms and ammunitions from Ethiopia. This is not true. Others think that we get our arms from the Soviet Union. This is also not true. The only foreign country that helped us was Libya. I was in Tripoli for eleven days in April 1984. At that time we had mutual hostility against Nimeiri. “An enemy of your enemy is your friend!” So goes the saying. We reached a good understanding with Ghaddafi and so he gave us lots of arms and ammunitions including anti-aircraft missiles. We knew of course that this would be a temporary support because once Nimeiri was overthrown this support would come to an end. So, we stockpiled a lot of arms and ammunitions. Having received these arms we became very strong and began over running enemy camps, making many ambushes and virtually annihilating military convoys and taking all their arms. The annihilation of Sudanese Para-troopers between Bor and Juba in 1985 is a case in point. The armaments we got when our forces captured Pibor enabled us to arm two battalions.
To sum up, our initial sources of armaments were battalions 104/105. We had a foreign source of armaments, which was Libya. Now all our arms procurement comes from the Sudanese Army. We are getting more arms and ammunitions overrun army garrison after army garrison. We are indeed making ambushes and are getting lots of armaments daily.

Heritage, Khartoum, Monday, Nov., 16, 1987, pp4.

Q 14. On the ongoing war, the SPLM leadership is being accused of using food relief as a weapon aimed at attempting to win public support to your side? What is your brief comment?
A. Definitely, I don’t agree with this accusation. For how can we use food relief as a weapon? And what is the argument in support of this accusation?

Q: 15 The argument in support of this accusation is that when the international relief agencies wanted to airlift food to the famine-stricken Southern Sudan in the middle of 1986 through “Operation Rainbow,” the SPLA threatened to shoot down any plane that would fly over the areas you control; thus making it difficult for the food to reach the people that needed it. This is the charge.
A: When I was fighting in Kapoeta, Mike Wooldrige of the BBC came to me and told me that Sadiq El Mahdi had agreed that the international relief organisations could work with the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA) the humanitarian Branch of the SPLM, provided that, he added, the SPLM allow food convoys by air and by land to go to the government control towns. My answer was in the affirmative. We agreed that the SRRA, the international relief organisations and the Sudan Government Relief Agency to sit down and provide modalities, ways and means whereby food could reach the targeted populations in the towns and in the countryside, provided that the food was not used either by the Sudanese Army or by the SPLA soldiers. This would mean that the operations be monitored by the three parties concerned.
So, Mr Bradley of the “Operation Rainbow” came and asked whether we were serious. As an element of goodwill he requested us to allow a few flights so that the process was seen to be working. So, we allowed few flights. Then, he went to the Sudan Government side and requested that it allowed a few flights to the SPLM control areas to distribute some food there. The Sudan Government rejected the request. We turned down Mr. Bradley’s request because we believed that the Sudan Government’s intention was to send the relief aid to the towns under its control while the majority of the people living in the countryside and who were badly in need of the relief were left without help. We therefore interpreted the Sudan Government’s rejection of Mr. Bradley’s proposal as hostile, for if it was not, Sadiq El Mahdi would have accepted it.
So we said that any aircraft which would attempt to come to the Southern Sudan would be considered as hostile. This was however another area of misunderstanding in regard to the ‘Operation Rainbow’. This misunderstanding was a result of agitation from Khartoum.
As regards to the allegation that we were the ones who refused the “Operation Rainbow” to fly food to the hunger stricken in War Zone One, I would say that this is not true. It was not us who refused the said Operation. It was Sadiq El Mahdi who frustrated the efforts of the International Relief Agencies to airlift food to the hungry people in the south after publicly he had been on the record that he would accept the International Relief Organisations to work with us. However, our side of goodwill was implemented while the Sudan Government side of goodwill was not. We were not in anyway obliged to accept food to be taken to the towns under Sudan Government control. Our move to prevent food to be taken to the towns was justified because we were getting reliable reports that, this food was being used by the Sudan Government Army.
If the Sudan Government side had agreed and allowed the Relief Agencies to work on both sides to the conflict, the next stage would have been to develop a mechanism whereby the three sides, namely the SPLA, the Sudan Government and the International Community would monitor how food was to be used on both sides to the conflict.
In brief, the Khartoum authorities completely refused the monitoring process. They were interviewed by the BBC, and they flatly said they would not accept the monitoring of food distribution.

Q: 16 What do you propose to be done in this connection while the war goes on?
A: Now that there is drought in the south, the most affected areas by the war, it extremely becomes very necessary to get food to the needy. In this connection, we would hold to the same formula that the SRRA, our humanitarian wing; the International Community and the Sudan Government humanitarian wing to sit down and device ways and means to get food to the affected areas both in the towns and in the countryside and to monitor its distribution so that it is not used either, by the Sudan Government troops or by the SPLA forces.
The three parties namely the SPLA, the Sudan Government and the International Community can form a committee to monitor the transport and distribution of this food. We can assign our own personnel to the government control towns if the Sudan Govt. guarantees to their security. We would also give security to the Sudan Govt. personnel who would be monitoring food distribution in the areas under our control. This, is in our opinion, would be a way out of this misunderstanding.
On my part as a leader of the SPLM, I will have no opposition to the formation of this committee. Rather, I bless and encourage it because there is going to be famine this year. Our people are going to suffer and they will die if nothing is done urgently.
At this juncture, I appeal to the concerned relief agencies to reactivate the relief operations to the areas affected by the droughts.

Q: 17 The SPLA/SPLM pledge that it is fighting to liberate the whole Sudan is being ridiculed by some individuals both from the north and the south. The northerners say to liberate the Sudan from who? The southerners on the other hand say, they do not want to shed their blood to liberate the Arab portion of Sudan. What would you tell these compatriots?
A: This question to liberate the Sudan from who has for a long time been asked by the people who are interested in perpetuating differences between the north and south of the Sudan that have been imposed by certain circumstances and promoted by their clique regimes in Khartoum. In fact, when these compatriots say to liberate the Sudan from who; the answer they expect is from the Arabs. This is the context of their agitation. What I would tell these compatriots is that I had been on record and I am saying this again that when we in the SPLM speak about the liberation of the Sudan, we use it in a broader sense.

As far as the SPLM philosophy is concerned the question that arises is not to liberate the Sudan from who but to liberate it from what? In my speech to the people of my village sometimes back, I demonstrated this point very clearly. I told them that during the dry season the women of the village have to walk 15 miles to get water from a well. If we reduce that distance from 15 miles to one mile or zero mile, if we locate the well in the village you will have essentially liberated these women from walking 15 miles. This is what we mean to liberate a person from what not from Who? I explained to them. Looking at it in this context, we mean to liberate the people from neglect. In our Sudanese situation, the whole countryside has completely been neglected by those that have been in power in Khartoum since independence.
The successive regimes in Khartoum have been putting all our foreign reserves on air coolers, on refrigerators, on television-sets, on good cars and all kinds of comfort. Whereas, our foreign reserves should have been spent on things like bore wells in the villages, haffirs and life-saving drugs for rural people just to mention but a few. This is what when we refer to the term ‘liberation from what’.
Another good example to demonstrate the misinterpretation of the term liberation is that before Nimeiri was overthrown, Sadiq’s wife was quoted in one of her talks with our people in London as saying….. “Ya jama’a , izza intum ta shill al ‘L’ da” If you can take away this ‘Letter L’ so as to read The Sudan Peoples’ Movement, we shall all join this Movement. But to say, “The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement…. To liberate the Sudan from who?” She asked.
This is the context in which the agitators in Khartoum would like to use the word liberation so as to distort it to mean a small thing that would mean the liberation of Sudan from the people. This is not how we use it. We in the SPLM use it in the sense that we want to liberate the Sudan from circumstances: the circumstances of oppression, of exploitation, of neglect which the majority of Sudanese find themselves in not only in the south, but all over the country, including Khartoum the capital of the whole country.
If for instance the tens of thousands of our people living in the carton huts in Khartoum are resettled in some decent places, if we make shelters at least for these people, we will have liberated them from these carton houses. This is our concept of the liberation. To come to the point the term Liberation is being ridiculed from that perspective by the people from the north because they want to associate it with racism.
On the other hand, some people from Southern Sudan ridicule the term by saying…. “Why should Southern Sudanese shed their blood in liberating the whole of the Sudan!”?
“Here again, this comes through sheer ignorance as to what the term liberation is all about or they deliberately want to distort it with the aim of ridiculing the Movement. These are the same southerners who claim that they would join the SPLA if it was fighting for the liberation of the southern Sudan. They insist that they would join the SPLA/SPLM if we change our manifesto to speak about the liberation of the south. This is rubbish.
Okay, let us speak about those who want to liberate the south. If they are going to liberate the south what method are they going to use? If they are going to liberate the south through fighting, then they need not to be told that the liberation of the south and of the whole Sudan involves fighting.
So, we invite those who want to liberate the south to come. Let them come. Nimule is still under the Army of Khartoum. Let them start fighting the Sudan army from there. When they reach what in their calculation, is the end of southern Sudan, let them stop. We will have a territorial army. We will have a home guard. We will deploy them on the Zairian border, on the Ugandan border, on the Kenyan border and on the Ethiopian border. In the meantime, the rest of us who would want to continue up to Khartoum and to Wadi Halfa will continue.
Secondly and most fundamentally, I would like to say that both the southerners and the northerners who make these ridicules do not completely understand the dynamics of how the liberation is going to take place. Those who make these ridicules from the north think that a southern army will eventually march into the north. The southerners who think that southerners should not shed their blood in order to liberate the whole Sudan think that a southern army will march to the north. This is not how we see things as happening. We see things as happening through the process of northerners themselves being involved in the struggle.
Now our forces are in southern Kordofan. We have lots and lots of recruits from southern Kordofan. The force that is in southern Kordofan, half of it is composed of the citizens of the area. So the process of liberating the whole country will involve the northerners in the fighting. They will not be standing in the dark watching the liberation going on. This is of course a very mechanical way of looking at a social reality. In deed as the war engulfs the whole country it will mean the involvement of all the people in the liberation.
To be specific the people of southern Kordofan are already involved and their own son Major Yousif Kuwa Mekki is their commander in southern Kordofan. The same is happening in southern Blue Nile. We have Malik Agar. He is the son of the area and he is fighting there. So, there is no question, you see, of southerners going to shed their blood while the northerners just fold their hands and wait for their liberation to take place. That is not how it will work.
There is no question of northerners thinking that a southern Sudanese army is going to invade their part of the country. This is a complete misunderstanding of reality, either innocently or deliberately construed in order to distort our objectives and ridicule them for political purposes.

Q: 18 Some Sudanese describe the SPLA/SPLM as a regional movement. What have you done so as to give it a national character?
A: In the first place, SPLM is not a regional movement. It is true, it started from a certain region which happens to be the southern Sudan. But this does not make it regional. It will be regional if its objectives are regional. So, we have regional parties like the southern Sudan Political Association (SSPA) for example. By their own definition of the objectives the members of SSPA have made themselves regional. There is also the General Union of the Nubas (GUN). By their definition, its members have made their organisation regional. So by our definition, we are not a regional organisation.
If you look at the other parties which claim to be national e.g. the Umma Party, You will find that what makes the Umma Party national is its claim, otherwise one can say that it is a regional party. The Umma Party is a movement that was started and is still based on the Ansar. There is therefore nothing one can say is national about the Ansar sect. I do not know how many the Ansars are. They may be three million compared to 22 million, the entire population of the Sudan according to the 1983 census. The Ansar sect is a regional organisation if the definition I stated above is applied to them. But because of their claim to the national rights, the Ansar Sect is a national organisation according to the definition of its objectives. The same thing can be applied to the DUP, which is based on the Katimmiyia Sect. So, there is nothing really that can make these parties national. They can as well be termed as regional like the SPLM if it were a regional organisation.
So one can say that the SPLM started at a certain time and at a certain place; but what is important is that the inner core that is its objectives, which are, needless to say, national.
In regard to the other part of question as to what we have done to give it a national character, I would say that, firstly by definition of its objectives and secondly its consistency with the definition of these objectives, which have gone beyond the region from which it started. As we have pointed out before, we are now in Southern Kordofan. So you can no longer talk about the SPLM being a southern Movement because we are already entrenched in southern Kordofan and southern Blue Nile and hopefully we will soon be in other areas.
We do admit people from all parts of the country and we have been doing this. At present, we have people not only from the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile but also individuals from other places in the northern Sudan. There are people from Shendi, who are in our Movement. A regional party would not admit people from that region. A national party admits people from any part of the country. SPLM is therefore a national Movement.

Q: 19 In an interview with this paper last April, the Premier Sadiq El Mahdi warned that southerners and especially the Dinkas, would be exterminated by the northerners who are being turned military by the continuation of the war. And in order to save them from being wiped out, he advised that the SPLA/M must end the war in favour of peaceful settlement. What is your response to this suggestion?
A: If the Prime Minister has made this statement, then one would say that it is very unfortunate because he is not speaking as a national leader. By making such a statement, the Prime Minister is perhaps thinking about certain tribes in a certain perspective as not being a part of his constituency. By making such a statement, he is telling these tribes “look, if you are giving me trouble, I am going to kill you”. This is not the talk of a Prime Minister, but of a leader of a small place like Khartoum. This statement is very unfortunate for Premier Sadiq because it makes him very small indeed. This is not a responsible statement. It was just an idle talk. It wouldn’t worry the Sudanese people as a whole. This is because, here is a portion of the country that somebody who claims to be the Prime Minister for the whole country, consciously programmes the extermination of people he claims to lead. No wonder, events like the Dhain massacre, and the massacre in Wau go to support such threats. In fact, one would say the Prime Minister is not only expressing threats but is actually doing it, if he is not attempting to do it. It is upon the Sudanese people to take necessary measures in order to rid the Sudan of this cancer. If the Prime Minister is talking about exterminating this or that tribe, then he needs not be reminded that nobody is going to be exterminated while lying down. Because if it comes to extermination, it will no longer be the Dinkas to fight against such mad ideas but the rest of the Sudanese people will struggle against the implementation of such ideas. The Sudanese people needless to say, the Dinkas included have the will and stand to do this.

Q: 20 Some Sudanese are saying that the war you are waging in the south is hindering development and progress in the whole country and particularly in the north. They go as far as suggesting that it would be better for the two parts of the Sudan to form two separate states in order to accelerate rapid development. What is your brief comment on this statement?
A: It is true the war is hindering development in our country. The question one should ask before answering this question is the development for Who? The Sudanese people have not benefited from whatever development there was. We are fighting first for a new Sudan in which all the Sudanese people all nationalities will be one people. Having achieved this objective, we will surely benefit from that development. So the development that we are hindering or which is being hindered by the war could mean development for the small clique in Khartoum. We are happy that the Chevron Oil Company operations have been stopped because the development that might have been made as a result of the oil revenue would have not benefited the Sudanese people. It would have only benefited the Nimeiri system thereby prolonging his dictatorial rule. If the oil had been prospected and refined under Nimeiri’s rule, he would have not been overthrown. The same thing can be said about the Jonglei Canal.
So, to answer your question, I would say, yes, development is being hindered in order to achieve higher objectives, which we strongly believe will result into faster development for the benefit of all.
Development is in fact being hindered because of the war and we are going to continue to hinder it until higher goals are achieved.

Q: 21 What about the assertion that it would be better for the south to separate so as to accelerate socio-economic development in the northern Sudan?
A: Separation of any part of the Sudan is not in our objectives. We are fighting for a united new Sudan and will fight against anybody who wants to dismember the Sudan, be they southerners or northerners.
I am aware that there are some people in Khartoum who say that (al harab bigha ghali) the war has become very expensive and that it would be better to give the south independence or let the south go. This is ridiculous because nobody has the right to give independence to anybody in this country. Giving independence is not like a cup of tea, one can give to someone and say, have it, it is yours. No, it does not work like that. “Bene wa benak” (between me and you who has the power in his hands in Khartoum to give the south independence? It is my conviction that nobody has this right and I don’t think that the talk about giving the south independence is a serious matter. It might be a mere propaganda being played up by certain individuals who want Sadiq El Mahdi to unite what they call the Arab north against the so called, African south.
Even if the southerners want to secede, I can assure you that nobody will in this country give them the chance to take such a step. In brief secession is not in our objectives and we, in the SPLM, will fight any ideas or actions aimed at dismembering the Sudan.

Q: 22 Reports coming out of the Southern Sudan indication that towns are being razed to the ground and much property being destroyed. Who is doing this destruction?
A: When there is fighting, things get destroyed on both sides. The aim of the war in fact is to make the other side non-combatant. You simply make him non-combatant by disarming him. If things get destroyed, it is because the destructions are the effects of the war.

Q: 23 It is almost three years now and the people have been talking about convening of the national constitutional conference. There are indications that suggest that it may or may not take place soon. What in your view are the obstacles impeding the progress towards the conference?
A: The main obstacle hindering the convening of the constitutional conference is, what I would call entrenched sectarianism in Khartoum. In fact, Sadiq El Mahdi and his group do not want to go to the National Constitutional Conference. When Nimeiri was overthrown, the SPLM and the Sudanese political forces in the country were in dialogue among themselves. These dialogue culminated in the Koka Dam Declaration. The Umma Party was a signatory to the Koka Dam Declaration. Instead of implementing it, Sadiq El Mahdi began to say that the two parties, the DUP and NIF, are not a party to the Koka Dam Declaration.
Instead of working with the rest of the political forces in order to convince the other two parties, from the alliance, Sadiq took an awkward position and began to assert that the DUP and NIF are not a part to the Koka Dam Declaration and that it would not only be implemented but not honoured.
It is our view that if the Prime Minister is serious about holding of the National Constitutional Conference, it should have been his responsibility and all of us who were involved in the Koka Dam, to convince the DUP and NIF to join the Alliance. This is an indication that the Umma Party and Sadiq in particular is not interested in the convening of the Constitutional Conference. Despite this he himself appears to be interested in the conference. The second indication is that as soon as Sadiq came to power in 1986 he began to talk about a national committee instead of implementing the Koka Dam Declaration. In fact there was no need to have another national committee since a 12 men liaison committee formed by the Koka Dam Assembly from among the members of the parties and political forces who attended the meeting, including the SPLM, was already in existence. Our reaction to the call by the Prime Minister for a national committee was that there was no need to have another committee when we already have a format forum for discussing the national issues.
So, when we shot down the plane over Malakal, the Prime Minister took the advantage of the incident and declared the SPLA as a terrorist organisation with which he will never talk. He even forbade other political forces from contacting us. This was very unfortunate because these actions were actions of somebody who is not interested in the convening of the national constitutional conference and the peaceful settlement of our problems. It is true we shot down a plane. In a war situation things get shot. People get shot. Tanks get shot and planes get shot. In our situation, we had given warnings that we would shoot down any aircraft flying over the airspace under our control because Khartoum was using civilian aircrafts to ferry military equipment to its besieged garrisons in the south. However, despite this warning, a plane was sent. Be that as it was, one would say that, what we shot down was the plane. But what Sadiq shot down was the whole peace process. If we are criminals then Sadiq is more a criminal than us.
So, that was about the Koka Dam. The other problem, which impeded the process toward the constitutional conference was the Prime Minster’s attitude towards the said conference. Sadiq El Mahdi has been putting obstacles after obstacles so that the National Constitutional Conference does not take place under the terms of Koka Dam Declaration. So, he terminated the peace talks. Other incidences, including the seven Bishops’ peace Mission to Addis. Of course, when a person close to you dies, there is a period of mourning and then after that life is to continue normally. So, when Sadiq was mourning the plane the funeral could not go on indefinitely. So, the Bishops came to break the stalemate of not talking to one another about the peace process and I believe they had the blessing of the Prime Minister. We met the Bishops, discussed with them, and we assured them about our willingness and eagerness to talk peace. After we talked with them we issued a joint communiqué!
After they returned home Sadiq did not see it necessary to meet the Bishops in order to brief him about their peace mission.
The third indication to show the Prime Minister’s reluctance to the holding of the constitutional conference is the declaration of the state of emergency. So we have now triple emergencies: The first state of emergency was declared by Nimeiri; when Sowar El Dahab came he imposed his state of emergency without first repealing the one imposed by Nimeiri; when Sadiq came, he too declared his own. These, to my mind, are obstacles impeding the constitutional conference. In order to have conducive atmosphere for peace talks the state of emergency should be lifted at least in the north where there is no war. If the state of emergency is not lifted what is the use of talking about the Sudan as being an example of democracy.
The fourth indication is that recently the National Alliance gave a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Sadiq El Mahdi on the peace process. But he criticised the Alliance for not condemning the SPLA. When one is engaged in the search for peace, and is determined to hold dialogues with the parties concerned there is no sense in insisting that the other party to the conflict be condemned. In fact there are many things that can be condemned about Khartoum, e.g. the barbaric incidences like the Dhain Massacre and the Wau killing of many innocent civilians.
The fifth indication to prove that the Khartoum Government is not interested in the present search for peace is that, when the African Parties came to meet us about the peace process, we agreed and issued a joint communiqué calling for the convening of the national constitutional conference. Instead of blessing the African Parties’ peace initiative, the Prime Minister went on record to condemn those who took part in the delegation. He condemns the Addis Ababa Peace Forum, the Kampala Quest for Peace and the Nairobi Search For Peace Communiqués, before these parties could return to Khartoum. He even threatened that he would dismiss the Ministers from the Council of the South who took part in these conferences before they could explain their position. He wants to dismiss the people who came to prepare the ground for the national peace conference. This again is an indication for lack of seriousness on the part of the Prime Minister in regard to, the holding of the national constitutional conference. I understand from some of the African Parties’ members that when they moved in the Parliament sometime back, the idea of forming a parliamentary committee to explore ways and means of bringing about peace in our country and to re-initiate contacts with the SPLM, the motion was defeated by the Prime Minister’s own Party.
The last point is my talk with him. I told him when we were parting that “Mr. Prime Minister, if I were you, I would, on arrival at Khartoum Airport, announce that I am implementing the Koka Dam Declaration. “If you do this, Mr. Prime Minister, I assure you I will declare a cease-fire the following day.” This was a challenge to him and I expected him, as a statesman, if he is one, to take it up seriously. I told him not to worry about what the DUP and NIF would think or do. I also told him to scrap the Islamic Sharia because it was not enacted by any Act of Parliament but by a mad dictator called Nimeiri. I told him not to stick to state of emergency and Sharia because they were not his responsibility. I told him that whatever the DUP and NIF opposition were, their voices were being drowned by those Sudanese, who have been suffering and who want peace. I also told him that I knew what he was going to do despite my advice. He asked me how I knew it? I told him that I was reading his mind because he was sectarian in thinking. “You are going to intensify the war with the hope that you will defeat SPLA. Or at least bring it to manageable size and then hold your version of the National Constitutional Conference.
So to sum up my answer to your question, I would say that the above facts are the main obstacles impeding the convening of the constitutional conference because the Prime Minister wants to convene it when it suits him and when he is the initiator of such a conference.
So, when the Parliamentary group want to initiate the peace talks, he says no, when the Church leaders want to initiate the talks he says no; if the SPLM wants to initiate peace talks he says no, and when we want to hold the conference through the Koka Dam Declaration, he says no… Instead he declared the state of emergency. The blame is therefore on the Prime Minister, who wants to hold the constitutional conference when it best suits him but not when it best suits the Sudanese people.

Q: 24 The recent peace offensive which resulted in the Addis Ababa peace forum, the Kampala quest for peace, and the Nairobi search for peace communiques is being seen in certain quarters as an attempt by the SPLM leadership to rally the Africa countries behind the SPLA so as to enable it fight against the Arab north? Do you agree with this sort of speculation?
A: The Addis Ababa Peace Forum, the Kampala Quest For Peace and the Nairobi Search For Peace meetings were in fact aimed at attempt to re-initiate the peace talks which were brought to a halt following the last Malakal plane incident in order to keep the ball of peace rolling despite the Prime Minister’s opposition. Our view in this regard is that if the Prime Minister and his party do not want to talk peace with us, we can talk with many other Sudanese political parties who are willing to talk with us. So, we have started to talk with African parties and will be in contact with those political forces that are ready and willing to join the peace talks we have already started. I do not therefore agree with the speculations that the recent peace offensive aimed at attempt to rally African countries to support us in the war we are fighting. These countries are poor and would be senseless to involve them in our own conflict. Moreover, they have their own problems. However,!
we have never sought any military assistance or any other support from these countries. We simply went to Addis, to Kampala and Nairobi purely to search for peace.

Q: 25 There have been some talks about the SPLA reconciliation with the Anya Nya II, are there attempts to do the same with other militias, that all Sudanese concentrated their efforts in the ongoing search for peace with less friction and quarrels?
A: Besides reconciling with Anya Nya Two, we want to come to terms with all the peace loving Sudanese including those who are opposed to our cause. In the light of this we are trying to reconcile with all the militias that have been unleashed against us and against the innocent and helpless Sudanese. We are trying to reconcile with them because we want to show them that fighting the SPLA on the side of the Sudanese Government is not in their interest nor is it in the interest of all the Sudanese people in general. The Messeryia, the Baggara Arabs of the Southern Kordofan and Darfur for example have for centuries been co-existing with the Dinka sharing pastures and the water of River Kiir (Bahr El Arab). There had been, of course, conflicts between the Dinka and the Messeryia over the pastures and water of River Kiir throughout the history of their co-existence but they were able to device successful ways and means of how to contain those conflicts. But the introduction!
of the Murahelin forces of the tribal militia by Nimeiri, promoted by Sowar El Dahab and fully implemented by Sadiq El Mahdi, has complicated the matters in the area, as this has injected a political element into what were essentially traditional conflicts. In our view the introduction of tribal militias to fight the SPLA on behalf of the Government is not in the interest of the tribes that are being involved in the conflict that is not theirs. We have been trying telling these government sponsored Messeryia militias that while they are fighting the SPLA their godfathers are sitting in Khartoum peacefully not being affected by the war. We told them that the Prime Minister and those who support them do not have cattle that will die in case there is no water and pastures. We do hope that these compatriots, who have been misled into believing that they can defeat the SPLA on behalf of the national army, will refrain from being used by the Khartoum politicians and to resume their normal traditional life.
So to answer your question, I am glad to say that efforts are being made to contact all the militia men in order to reach a peaceful settlement with them. In fact we have already started contact with the Messeryia Murahelin forces so as to come to terms with them. We are also looking forward to organise meetings with all the tribes that share the water of River Kiir. Similarly, we are talking with the Mundari Militia men and have gone a long way into making full settlement with them. The good news is that most of the Mundari Militia men have already joined the SPLA. The Ismail Konyi Militia had already been incorporated into the SPLA except for about 150 who had run to Malakal together with Ismail himself when Pibor fell into the hands of SPLA. In fact after the fall of Pibor we went on a political campaign in Murle villages and managed to win over 1,000 Konyi’s Militia men who are now part of the SPLA forces. In regard to the Fertit Militia we are exerting efforts to bring peace between them and the Jur-Luo on one hand and between them and the Dinka on the other hand. I am glad to inform you that we have succeeded to restore peace between the Murle and the Anyuak between the Nuer and the Dinka Bor and between the Dinka and Toposa who have been fighting one another for many years. These efforts to reconcile the tribes have been going on, are going on and will continue to go on until complete peace and stability is established all over the region.

Q: 26 Since you launched the SPLAM you have not visited any Arab country. You did not even ask either for military or humanitarian assistance. If what I have said is correct, will you not agree with the people who think that you are fighting for the liberation of the Africans of the Sudan from Arab domination?
A: As I have said some where in this discourse, there are people who insist and take pride in trying to play up the differences between the peoples of African stock and the peoples of Arab origins, in this country, the differences which were essentially imposed by certain circumstances. Those who try to play up these differences want to perpetuate them for their political gains. If these were not their intentions, they would not continue to ignore the fact that we are not fighting for the Africans only in the Sudan. We have been on records since we launched the Revolution that we are fighting for the whole Sudan. If there are some compatriots who still doubt our intention to fight for the whole country, I would tell them that time has come for them to recognise this fact and begin to approach us from that perspective, and sooner they do this the better it will be for the interest of the peace and the stability of our people.
It is indisputable that it was Libya, which gave us our only foreign assistance. As regard to the allegation that I have never visited any Arab countries, I can say that this is not true. I was in Tripoli for eleven days in 1984. Moreover the first country that gave us our only foreign assistance was Libya. I was also in Aden for six days at the same time when the Sudanese Minister of Defence Osman Abdalla was visiting the Democratic Republic of Yemen. I sent a delegation to Egypt and was met by President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt was therefore the third country we had contacted. We did also had contact with Jordan. They wrote to us one time and we replied them. So, you can see that we are in contact with Arab countries. The allegation is therefore not true. We are not fighting for the Africans in the Sudan.

Q: 27 Officials of the Sudan govt. strongly believe that you are not going to win this war because your constituency, the Southern Sudan is not behind you as was the case with AnyaNya movement. They also believe that the continuation with the war is just an adventure on your part. What will you say about this assertion?
A: That we have a support, a popular support in the Southern Sudan is not just a claim, but a fact that does not need lecturing to people about it. In fact who does not know that we have the support in the South? If there are some people who say that we do not have support in the South it is not because they believe in what they are saying but do not intend to admit the reality of the situation. We do have support in the South otherwise people would have not been joining the SPLA in their thousands. The fact that tens of thousands of people are joining us daily is a simple indication that we do have and continue to enjoy a popular support in the Southern Sudan. An out-standing indication to support our claim that we have a popular support is that we out-lived Nimeiri’s regime; we had out-lived Sowar El Dahab; we had out-lived Sadiq one, Sadiq two and we will definitely out-live Sadiq three. As a matter of facts, those who think and believe that we do not have a popula!
r support are either not following the events that are taking place in the war theatre or want to mislead the public opinion away from us in order to buy time… In short, I would like to affirm to you that we do have a popular support in the South.
What I would like to underline or correct at this juncture is that our constituency is not the Southern Sudan our constituency is the Sudan as a whole and we have never been vague about it. We have been saying it over and again that we are not fighting because of the so-called problem of the Southern Sudan but for the creation of a new Sudan; a Sudan that is free of exploitation, oppression and abuse of human rights; a Sudan where every body is equal before the law, a Sudan where all citizens do enjoy equal rights; a Sudan that does not chop off the limbs of citizens who commit crimes as a matter of survival. The whole Sudan is therefore our constituency. The fact that we happened to have started the Sudan Peoples Revolution in the South of the country, does not deny us our pledge to liberate the Sudan from circumstances of exploitation and oppression. That the South is a starting point where the people’s revolution was launched is important. But all the same our constituency remains the whole Sudan. The proof is that we are gaining more and more support as the war moves northwards; and are convinced that we will in the end win the support of the rest of the regions of the Sudan.

Q: 28 THE SPLM APPEAL TO THE WORKERS, PEASANTS, SOLDIERS AND INTELECTUALS HAVE MADE MANY PEOPLE THINK THAT YOUR MOVEMENT IS MARXIST-LENINIST ORIENTED AND THAT YOUR CLAIM THAT YOU ARE A NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT IS JUST A MERE CAMOUFLAGE. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THIS ARGUMENT?

A: When the SPLM addresses itself to the Sudanese people, it is appealing to the majority of the Sudanese and the majority of the workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals. This is the spectrum of the Sudanese people. Those who are left out of the spectrum, may be, are the two families namely the Mahdi and the Mirghani families and their supporters who have been exploiting the Sudanese people for the last thirty-one years. So, you can see the appeal itself cannot make us Marxist or Leninist, as many people would like to describe us. As you have rightly said before, our appeal is primarily to the exploited and the down trodden members of our public, the peasants, the workers, the soldiers and the intellectuals. Those who prefer to call us communist do not seem to understand what communism is all about. Essentially, communism in its classical sense socialises Capital. In Southern Sudan for instance, there is no capital to be socialise. Even if our movement wants to go Marxist-Leninist, it cannot, because the conditions just are not there now as there is no capital to socialise in the Southern Sudan. Frankly speaking our immediate problem is not what ideology should be adopted in the Sudan. Our main concern is the creation of a new Sudanese nation. We must build a nation before we concern ourselves with other matters. In fact, the political power in Khartoum since 1956 has been in the hands of the two family parties; (the Umma, DUP) and the National Islamic Front with its confusionist tactic of using religion as its constituency. The Khartoum regimes had for a long time exploited and neglected the majority of the Sudanese, the peasants and the workers just to mention a few. They do not effectively participate in the government of their country. The economic development on the other hand is being geared toward the interest of these two families and their parties without considering the interests of the majority of the Sudanese
people.
The SPLM is not therefore fighting in order to import a foreign ideology into the Sudan. Rather, we are fighting for a new system that will speed up economic development and equitable distribution of our vast national and natural resources, which had for a long time been neglected. Indeed our resources are quite vast. We have a potential Agricultural land of about 20 million acres. Less than 15 millions of this land, are under cultivation.
We have vast oil and minerals resources; we have enough water and fish resources in addition to potential hydro-electric power. At this juncture, I would like to state we are going to spare no efforts to rid the Sudan of a system based on sectarianism, on racism, on religion, on family and to establish a national democratic government that is well equipped to accelerate the development of these resources for the benefit of our people and within a united Sudan. These are our objectives.
To come back to your question, I would say that we are in a process of a nation formation. We are going to rejuvenate the Sudan and make it a nation that is proud of itself, a Sudan that is not just a mere bridge between the Arab and the African worlds as it has been described. This in our view will be a very dirty bridge. Of course, when people walk on a bridge, it is bound to be dirty. So we do not want the two family-parties to continue to walk on the Sudanese people be they Arabs or African. In short, we want to build a nation that will be proud of itself, that will make its rightful contribution both in African and the Arab world and in the world at large. This is the objective we want to achieve.

Q: 29 FROM WHAT YOU HAVE JUST SAID, IT DOES SEEM THAT YOUR MOVEMENT HAS AN IDEOLOGY BUT YOU WANT TO DEFER IT TO SOME LATER STAGE OF YOUR STRUGGLE. DON’T YOU THINK THAT IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR YOU TO COME UP WITH A DEFINITE IDEOLOGY SO THAT THE SUDANESE PEOPLE CAN BE ABLE TO JUDGE WHETHER YOUR MOVEMENT IS A LIBERAL, NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC OR MARXIST? WHAT IS YOUR FEAR?

A: We are not deferring our ideology as you have said, for some later stage of our struggle. We have been saying it and are on record about the type of system we want to establish in the Sudan. But if some people fail to recognise it, it may be because they do not want to recognise what we have been saying about what we want. We have said it many times, in our literature and some of my speeches that we want to form a new Sudan, and of course the formation of new Sudan itself must have basis. At present the basis for the new Sudan are being created, and this is something you Sudanese intellectuals must look into, find out the factors that bring us together and to build on it. In fact our history did not begin with the British colonialism, or the Turkish intrusion into our country; nor did it start with the coming of Islam or the rise of the Mahdia. It did not either begin at the 1947 Juba Conference or in 1955 when a garrison in Torit revolted. We believe that the hi!
story of the Sudanese people dates back to many thousand years. We have, therefore, been here all along. When some people talk about the ancient Egyptian civilisation, ancient Egypt or the Pharonic Egypt, one should answer the question as to who were these people and where they went… This is us, we got displaced. We got pushed down and down. We must rise up a proud nation that can look after itself.

Q: 30 ASSUMING THAT YOU HAVE SUCCEDED TO FORM A NEW SUDAN WITH YOU AS ITS LEADER, WHAT IN YOUR OPINION, WOULD BE THE BEST SYSTEM UNDER WHICH THE NEW COUNTRY WILL BE GOVERNED?

A: Obviously, Sudan is a vast country, the big great country, I would say, in Africa. As such it cannot be ruled exclusively from the centre. The power must of course be devolved to the regions. You may call them regions or federal states. This is however just semantic. What is important in this regard, is the content of the devolution of power to the people for the purpose of administration and economic development in the regions or states; the intention of which is, of course, to take the government to the grassroots: the grassroots to effectively to participate in the development of the country and they in turn benefit from this development. So, the structure of the rule or the power structure, must be decentralised, with of course, the central government in the national capital in Khartoum or some other place, that can be selected as the capital of the whole country.

Q: 31 IN REGARD TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHAT TYPE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND, THE CENTRALISED ECONOMY OR THE OPEN MARKET ECONOMY?

A: You know there are certain things that can best be done by individuals and there are others, which must be done collectively. Like wise there are many projects that can best be managed by the central government others by the regional or local governments. Given our vast mineral and other natural resources, there is no way that an individual can for instance, develop and run a hydro-electric plant. A project of this kind can best be managed by a central government or regional governments. In the same way heavy industries can be run by central government. The establishment of schools and hospitals can be carried out by the central authority, as well as by regional authorities. Private schools and clinics, can be opened by individuals. Co-operative societies are areas in which groups of persons can be involved for the benefit of the people. So, you see you can have private enterprises run by individuals, you can have co-operative societies run by a group of people, !
you can have regional corporations but you must have central government institutions.
So, if you look at all these things, you cannot make a clear cut answer as to say, at the present moment, what type of economic order or development one can predict will be best for our country. Once we have succeeded to achieve our objectives, our experts will have to sit down and sort out the best ways of accelerating the economic development in our country.

Q: 32 CAN YOU ENLIGHTEN US AS TO HOW YOU ADMINISTER THE TOWNS AND AREAS UNDER YOUR CONTROL?

A: We administer the liberated towns and areas through committees. There are village committees, town committees and district committees. We will have provincial committees when we move to the cities. These committees are responsible for the administration of the villages, towns and the areas under our control. When we liberate a District we have to set up an administrative machinery to over see public as well as inter-personnel matters. We also have District Councils, which have various functions such as education, veterinary, agriculture, judiciary and medical services. All these services are supervised by an administrator. Besides we have District Councils and the District Political-Military High Command. A District Council is composed of members elected by the village committees. The District Council is headed by an Administrator. The present Administrator of Pibor for example, is Mr. Clement Katinya, a former administrator in Malakal. He replaced Mr. Ater Dak who has been transferred to the Headquarters. We give some military training in our military and political schools. They participate in battles before they are posted to run the liberated areas. All the administrative structure is under an Area Commander who heads the District Military-Political High Command. The District High Command is the policy making body as well as the executive organ in a District. The District Administrator is a member of the District High Command. The political officer, the intelligence officer and the members of the District councils are also members of this policy making body. In summery, it is through this process that we run the administration in the liberated areas.

Q: 33 DO YOU INTEND TO ESTABLISH A GOVERNMENT ONCE YOU HAVE LARGER AREAS UNDER YOUR CONTROL?

A: Well, it depends on what you mean by a government. What I have described above is a form of government. Of course, we don’t call it a government. We call it a provisional administration. In other words we do not have a government in a sense that this is a ministry of education, a ministry of health or a ministry for agriculture. We just set up an administration from the grassroots to provide services and other development activities. Coming from the base, we are essentially establishing an administration as we go along with the liberation of the whole country. But we do not have a government in the sense you might have conceived in your mind or in the conventional sense. We are not therefore going to declare that we have a government.

Q: 34 JUDGING FROM THE EVENTS THAT HAVE BEEN TAKING PLACE IN OUR COUNTRY DURING THE LAST FOUR YEARS, ONE WOULD BE BOUND TO CONCLUDE THAT THE WAR YOU ARE WAGING AGAINST THE SUDAN GOVERNMENT MAY, IF IT IS NOT BROUGHT TO A SPEEDY END, LEAD THE SUDAN INTO A LEBANESE-LIKE SITUATION. WHAT IN YOUR VIEW CAN BE DONE IN ORDER TO AVOID THE LEBANESE EXPERIENCE?

A: It will be very unfortunate if we go in for a Lebanese-like situation in which all factions in the country are fighting one another indiscriminately. I am sure nobody among the peace-loving Sudanese would like to see us follow the Lebanese experience where the warring factions do not differentiate friends from enemies. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that we have some bad elements in our society who would like to Lebanise the Sudan. These people are there and will do all kinds of things to instigate and promote sectarian ideas and actions that will push us into a Lebanese-like situation. Of course, we would not allow this to happen.
To answer your question…what can be done to avoid Lebanising the Sudan, my only advice is that first, all Sudanese political forces and the Sudanese people at large must fight against any attempt to Lebanise our country. We must also fight against attempts to implement them. In our view the only way to avoid any disastrous approach to Sudanese problem, is to hasten the process of dialogue and to restore peace in our country as soon as possible. The restoration of peace is of vital importance if we are to concentrate all our efforts on the development of our human and natural resources. This will, of course, demand that the current war be brought to a speedy end. We should not have a cause for quarrel because we are a large country with huge untapped resources enough for all of us.
The second thing that must be done if we are to avoid disastrous approach to our problems is for the Sudanese to get rid of sectarianism, racial and religious discriminations as well as the system based on a family rule. These factors must be eradicated immediately because they have bled our country for the last thirty-one years of its political independence. Regrettably, Sudan has not known peace since it obtained its political independence. There was the 17 years old war, there was the nine years of uneasy peace, then came the Anya Nya Two war. It is now going to be five years since the SPLA started the present war. Finally, the Sudanese people must realise that we have been at war with one another precisely because while some of us are trying to establish a multi-nationality and multi-religious society, there are others who are trying to create a mono-nationality and mono-religious nation. In our view we must get rid of these factors because they have been responsible for the three-decade-old instability in our country. Indeed, thirty-one years of instability is a long period in the history of a nation. We must therefore draw useful lessons from our immediate history to recognise the fact that the above factors cannot advance our cause. On the contrary they are responsible for our continued disunity. These factors left unresolved will never make us build a united and proud nation. In order to avoid the Lebanese experience, we must create a conducive atmosphere for the building of a new Sudan; a Sudan that is free of all forms of discriminations; a Sudan of equality and justice; a Sudan that is a home for all of us.

Advertisements
Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s