Open Letter to Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo

Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo
IGAD Secretariat on Peace in Sudan

Date: 21th May 2003

Subject: There can be no compromise on the political future of the Nuba people

Dear Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo,

Last November 2002 the Nuba political parties, representatives of civil society and independent Nuba intellectuals wrote to your Excellency demanding justice at Machakos peace talks for the Nuba and other
marginalized people. Today, the same people and the same organisations, who signed that letter and majority of the Nuba people inside and outside Sudan are deeply concerned over the political future of the Nuba
Mountains. They all would like to reiterate the same demand presented to your Excellency, which is justice.

For many years, the Nuba people have expressed their concern over the policy of injustices, imbalances,
marginalisation and gross violation of human rights committed against them by all national Governments that ruled Sudan since independence in 1956. If there is to be a peace resolution at Machakos for the Sudan's conflict, the Nuba issue should be redressed and settled at IGAD current peace talks.

We believe that the current peace talks in Machakos are moving steadily and have now reached a critical and a crucial stage. However, the issue of the marginalized areas have not been given sufficient time for discussion. In addition, there is a lack of true representation of political parties or civil societies from these marginalized areas in
these negotiations. The Nuba now fear that their political future will be sidelined so that the warring parties can reach a settlement on their expense and the expense of other marginalized areas in Northern Sudan.

For many years, we have been voicing our concern in many of the international conferences, demanding acknowledgement of the Nuba irrefutable claim to self-determination similar to that given to the Southern people at Machakos.

The Nuba are at the very centre to this conflict, hold the vital key to the solution, and will be pivotal to any peace settlement. If there is to be a peaceful and just solution to Sudan's perpetual conflicts, the Nuba must be entitled to have their rights respected.

We believe that the IGAD Committee, the Troica and the two Warring Parties, should now seriously take on board the issues of the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile and other marginalized areas. As for the Nuba Mountains, we suggest the following points for settling the Nuba issue and these are:

1. The Nuba Mountains Region should be administered directly by the National Interim Government (which should be composed of SPLA/M, the present GoS, NDA and other Political Parties). This means that the Nuba
Mountains Region should not be part of the Northern or Southern entity, but it should be independent and administered by the Broad National Government.

2. The Nuba Mountains Region should have autonomous powers, similar to the powers agreed to the Southern Sudan within the peace settlement.

3. Without prejudice to the position stated in point, number 2 above, the self-governing body for the Nuba Mountains Region should be composed of the indigenous sons and daughters of the region.

4. When the people of Southern Sudan and at the end of the transition period decide at the referendum to opt for independent Southern state, the people of Nuba Mountains should immediately exercise freely their right to self-determination and use options open to them. The options shall be as follows:

1. Unity with the Northern entity;
2. Unity with the Southern entity;
3. Independent statehood.

We must remember that a peaceful and democratic solution to Sudan's conflict can only be achieved if there is a genuine and comprehensive settlement to the whole conflict in the country, which recognise the rights of all the peoples of Sudan. Therefore, no one can afford to ignore the rights of the marginalized areas in Northern Sudan, including Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, Darfur in the western Sudan and Beja Hills in the eastern Sudan.

We believe that neither the National Islamic Front (NIF) Government in Khartoum nor the SPLA/M has the
mandate from all the Sudanese people to decide the future of the country alone. In addition, neither of the two parties are truly representatives of their populations nor have any meaningful form of democratic mandate.
Any new constitutional arrangement clearly needs some form of popular consent.

Therefore, it is important that all the Sudanese political forces must be fully involved in deciding the destiny of their country. Any solution, which does not address the root causes of the conflict will not deliver a lasting peace. People across Sudan have resorted to arm struggle for justice, power sharing and equal distribution of wealth
from our national resources.

The Nuba Like most people across Sudan are desperate for an end to the conflict. However, we all know there can be no peace without justice, and ignoring the aspirations of the Nuba people is no way to grantee an end to the fighting. We understand peace requires compromise but it would be very wrong to treat the Nuba Mountains as a bargaining counter.

The fact that many Nuba are Muslims should not deny us our democratic rights or allow the incorporation of the Nuba Mountains into a consolidated Islamic state. We urge your Excellency to consider the seriousness of the Nuba issue. Our people have endured blockade, bombardment, Jihad War and ethnic cleansing and are terrified at the prospect of being returned to the hands of their tormentors.

Finally, we therefore beseech your Excellency to treat this issue with seriousness it deserves.

Yours truly,

Suleiman Musa Rahhal
Director/Nuba Survival Foundation

Cc US Special Envoy for Peace: Senator Danforth
Cc State Department Special Advisor on Sudan: Ambassador Michael Runneberger
Cc US Government Representative in Khartoun: Jeff Millington
Cc British Special Envoy for Peace : Alan Goulty
Cc British Foreign Office: Alastair Mc Phail
Cc Norwegian Special Envoy for Peace: Kjell Hodnebo
Cc Norwegian Government - Hilde Johnson
Cc Italian Government: Silvio BerLucsconi
Cc Swiss Government:Josef Bucher
Cc Sudan Government: Ghazi Salah el-deen Atabani
Cc SPLA /M: Salva Kiir