Commander Yousif Kuwa Mekki lays down his terms for peace

NAFIR
Volume 5, No 1, June 1999

In his recent visit to Britain, cdr Yousif Kowa Mekki, the Nuba leader and the Governor of South Kordofan met British Government Officials in the Foreign Office, Department of International Development and also lobbied Members of British Parliament in the House of Common. He clarified the Nuba position and the terms the Nuba would be prepared to lay down the arms for a comprehensive peace settlement. Here are the terms and the position articulated for by the Nuba Leader, Yousif Kuwa Mekki.

POLITICAL POSITION:
Basic Conditions and Specific Terms
1. The Nuba are part and parcel of the SPLA/M and are committed to the SPLA/M position on peace in Sudan presented to various IGAD meetings.
2. The Nuba strongly support the IGAD Declaration of Principles and the maturing IGAD peace process.
3. The Nuba are central to the Sudanese conflict and hold the key to vital questions of ethnic rights and religious tolerance.
4. The Nuba people demand the right of self determination. The Nuba people are entitled to this international human right for the following reasons:
4.1 Because of their long history of being treated as second-class citizens in Sudan.
4.2 Because of the threat of genocide that hangs over them.
4.3 Because of their long and bitter struggle for their right of justice and equality.
4.4 Because the right of self-determination has been recognised for south Sudan.
4.5 Because they were administered as a 'closed district' along with south Sudan (and also south Blue Nile) from 1922 onwards.
5. The Nuba right to self-determination must be recognised to achieve a genuine and comprehensive settlement to the long-running conflict in Sudan.
6. The Nuba are not demanding secession. The Nuba demand the right to choose in their own right.
7. The Nuba's preferred option is the unity of the Sudan, with the Nuba enjoying self-government within a decentralised system.
8. During the interim period between the signing of a Peace Agreement and the final exercise of self-determination, the Nuba demand the following:
8.1 To be treated equally with south Sudan and in parallel in any peace deal.
8.2 Interim self-administration of the Nuba Mountains under the SPLA/M on the same terms as South Sudan.
8.3 A secular, pluralist and democratic regional administration.
8.4 International guarantees for the future of the Nuba as an integral part of any peace deal from the outset.
8.5 The presence of ensure respect of human rights and the free and fair conduct of the exercise of the right of self-determination.
8.6 The Nuba people will exercise their international monitors to right of self-determination separately after the people of South Sudan have made their decision in an internationally-monitored referendum.
9. The Nuba respect the inalienable right of the people of South Sudan to self-determination. The future of South Sudan is a matter for southern Sudanese.
9.1 The Nuba would prefer for the South to remain in a united Sudan. But in the case of the people of South Sudan opting through a democratic process to secede from Sudan, the Nuba will respect that choice.
9.2 In the case of the people of South Sudan opting for separation in the exercise of their right to self-determination, the Nuba will have the following options:
(i). To choose to be part of Southern Sudan state, or
(ii). To choose to be part of the Northern Sudan state, or
(iii). To choose to have an independent statehood.
10. The Nuba call for the implementation of impartial relief and development programmes during the interim period.
11. Both the humanitarian and political positions narrated in this Clarification apply to the people of South Blue Nile. South Blue Nile is therefore entitled to a deal on the same terms as the Nuba.

HUMANITARIAN POSITION
1. The Nuba people are in a critical humanitarian situation. Our people are still dying of hunger and disease, as well as from government attacks, landmines and aerial bombardment including cluster bombs.
2. The Sudanese government continues to deny access to UN humanitarian relief agencies despite a promise to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in May 1998 to allow Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) to go to the Nuba Mountains.

The international community should put pressure upon the Sudanese government to allow humanitarian access by all relief organisations and mainly by the OLS to all areas of the Nuba Mountains including areas controlled by the SPLA.

This clarification should serve to put an end to speculation that the Nuba people are considering a separate deal with the Sudan Government, as has been erroneously reported in some quarters. Hopefully, the Clarification will also bring a true and lasting peace closer.