We in Nuba Survival Foundation, as a representative of Nuba Society would like to express our gratitude to the immense efforts made by Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) mediators and the Troika on behalf of the international community to bring an end to the long conflict of the Sudan.
While we welcome an end to the long civil war in Sudan and the final peace agreement which is poised to be signed on 9th January 2005, we would like to draw your attention to the following important facts regarding the Nuba Mountains issue:
1. Having carefully examined all the Peace Agreements signed in Navaisha so far including the Agreement signed last week on 31December 2004 by the Parties, we have come to conclusion that all these agreements have failed to address the fundamental rights of the people of Nuba Mountains. The people of the Nuba Mountains have been consistently demanding the right of self-determination and self-rule during and after the interim period, which will give them the right to maintain, control and govern their ancestral land. The two negotiating Parties instead of recognising and accepting that basic rights for the people of Nuba Mountains, including the right of self-determination similar to that given to the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei, they agreed upon, denied these very same rights. They came up with what is called "Popular Consultations" for the people of the Nuba Mountains, which is an ambiguous clause and does not lead to anything except denying the people of the Nuba Mountains the right to determine their own future like others in Sudan.
2. The people of Nuba Mountains have an irrefutable claim to self-determination as an essential guarantee on their rights. Their demand for the right to self-determination is based on long experience of persistent human rights abuses, suppression, marginalisation, discrimination and exploitations by all governments in power since our independence in 1956. This makes them eligible to self-determination, which is now enshrined in international laws as a fundamental right for all people under the Human Rights Charter to which Sudan Government is a signatory. Therefore, this right should have been accepted by the Parties. The present regime in Khartoum has never showed any good well towards the people of the Nuba Mountains which means they will not trust any government whatsoever from the Northern Sudan due to the bad record of injustice and discrimination they inflicted on them. It is for this reason the people of Nuba Mountains are demanding the recognition and the acceptance by IGAD, Troika, negotiating Parties an well as international community to their right for self-determination, which would be exercised if the people of the Southern Sudan at the referendum voted for secession and the country is divided into two separate nations.
3. It is extremely disturbing to learn that the negotiating Parties are using Nuba Mountains as a compromising issue to reach settlement on their contentious issues. The Government continues to deny the Nuba their basic rights including even their historical name of the ancestral land "Nuba Mountains". At the current peace talks in Navaisha the Government is adamant about changing this historical name of Nuba Mountains which means so much to the Nuba people, which clearly demonstrate the government ill intention towards the Nuba in Sudan. This is a political manoeuvre by the government to embrace the Baggara Arab tribes of Western Kordofan and accommodate their demands. In this respect we would like to draw your attention to the unfair Sudanese government policy towards the people of the Nuba Mountains. In the Power-sharing Agreement it was agreed that the Government will get 55% of in-built majority in the coming government of Nuba Mountains/Southern Kordofan as SPLM 45%, leaving nothing for the Nuba. We would like to make it absolutely clear that the Nuba people will not under any circumstance accept the domination of the National Islamic Government and the SPLM/A. The Nuba people will resist any attempt of imposition of Sharia laws by the government on them. The Nuba people did not call for amalgamation of Arab tribes of Western Kordofan state nor did they want to be part of it. What the people of the Nuba Mountains are is the control over their historical land which includes the present Nuba Mountains plus Lagowa Province, el-Heigyrat, Sunot and Jebel al-Dair which were annexed by this present Government and given to both Northern and Western Kordofan States. We demand that the historical name of "Nuba Mountains" which include all annexed areas should remain and also Kadugli should remain as the capital of the Nuba Mountains State. We demand autonomy and self-rule to the historical land which belongs to the people of the Nuba Mountains. Any compromise on this we consider as an intent policy by the government to completely eliminate the Nuba cultural identity in Sudan which will not be acceptable to the Nuba.
We based our claims on the fact that the Nuba Mountain Province was in existence for thousands of years even before the British Administration rule in Sudan (1896-19956). During the British Rule to Sudan it became "Nuba Mountains Province" with its capital at Talodi (under Close District Ordinance 1925). In addition, the two Parties themselves committed on their signing to the definition of the Nuba Mountains region stipulated in the Nuba Mountains Cease-Fire Agreement of Burgenstock which was signed on 19th January 2002. All evidential documents and maps have been provided to the IGAD Secretariat to justify our claims.
We also demand that the Nuba Mountains Region should not be subjected to any new drawing of boundaries, cutting or splitting. We are totally against the Government idea of changing the name of the region or move its capital to be Regil Al-foula, which is an Arab region. We would to emphasise that the people of the Nuba Mountains have never demand to include Western Kordofan into their region nor wanted to be part of it. What they are demanding from IGAD and the two Parties is that Nuba lands which were annexed in 1970s and 90s and given to the Western and the Northern Kordofan states to be returned to the Nuba Mountains Region. Baggara Arab tribes should remain in their Western Kodofan state to avoid any future conflict between the two communities. We should learn from the current crisis of Darfur to avoid the repeat of such great human disaster.
4. The peace agreements on Power-sharing, wealth-sharing did not specify clearly what the people of the Nuba Mountains will get. What was stipulated in these agreements for the Nuba Mountains is vague, unclear and ambiguous. We demand that the Nuba self-rule government should have clear percentages of both wealth and power sharing stipulated clearly in the peace agreement and that a clear comprehensive economic recovery plan be in place to deal with the rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and development of the devastated Nuba Mountains region. In fact, we demand a special Trust fund to be established for Nuba Mountains during the interim period.
5. Having suffered enormously from the Sudanese army and their allied Arab militia throughout Jihad War committed against the people of Nuba Mountains with absolute impunity which mounted to the loss of many thousands of human lives and to the destruction of the entire region, we on this cause demand the deployment of United Nations Peace Keeping Forces in the Nuba Mountains region during the interim period to protect Nuba populations from any repeat human right violations.
6. All previous elections took place in Sudan since independence were based on unfair policy which always favour the party in power and in order to have fair election and truly elected democratic government we demand that: (a) Election commission should be selected from totally independent highly qualified and expert individuals. (b) Election and referendum in the Nuba Mountains and elsewhere should be under the supervision of an independent commission and monitored by international bodies including observers form UN, AU and EC. (c) All citizens residing in the Nuba Mountains prior to 30th June 1989 will be regarded as residents of the Nuba Mountains Region and are legible to vote. Citizen of Nuba Mountains who are currently outside the region will be entitled to return to the region or if absent to be registered and vote in the election and referendum.
7. Sudanese people of different political shades, ethnic groups and civil society should be represented in the making of the permanent constitution for the country, which should not be left to the National Congress Party and the SPLA/M alone.
8. Finally, we in Nuba Survival Foundation are presenting these demands which are the same demands that the United Sudan National Party, Nuba Civil Society organisations, Intellectuals, Nuba Youths, Community leaders and Nuba Fighters in the SPLA had submitted to the IGAD Secretariat and the two negotiating Parties since Machakos Protocol was signed on 20th July 2002. The people of the Nuba Mountains region have therefore made their views, position and demands for a fair settlement to the Nuba Mountains issue, as they believe that a comprehensive and workable peace in the Nuba Mountains and the whole of Sudan can only be built on justice and the recognition of the rights of other people.
Nuba Survival Foundation, P.O.Box 386, Hayes, Middlesex UB3 3WZ
Tel./Fax no: 44+ 20 8813 5831