l. to r.: Yasir Arman, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and Abdel Aziz (Photo by: New Sudan Vision)
Yasir Saeed Arman, member of SPLM political bureau, SPLM National Council, Deputy General Secretary northern sector and head of the SPLM parliamentarian bloc, Abdel Aziz Adam al Hillu, member of the SPLM political bureau, former liberated areas governor and Ezekiel Lol Gatkwoth, SPLM representative to USA addressed mixed audience of Sudanese from most parts of the country in Denver Colorado on Tuesday April 10th, 2007.
At a small hall at Radisson Hotel east of Denvor, The SPLM's Colorado Chapter welcomed the SPLM delegates. Comrades Yasir Arman and Abdel Aziz Adam El Hilu were both introduced by SPLM representative to USA, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth.
The chairwoman of the Colorado SPLM Chapter, Helen Achol Wour welcomed the visit as a great honor. "It is a great pleasure to have among us today some of the most distinguished sons of new Sudan. In coming to visit us, we now know that we are not forgotten," she paused. "It shows how concerned the leadership of SPLM is about its people at home and in the Diaspora," she added.
The conference hall was filled to capacity, underscoring the eagerness and inquisitiveness of audience, many of whom were meeting the officials for the first time. Despite the excitement, there was some noticeable tension in the conference hall, perhaps due to the fact that some audiences came from different political persuasions and parties.
Many were concerned by state of affairs in Sudan and particularly in southern Sudan where SPLM, a dominant political party in the south and a major partner in the Government of National Unity stand accused of corruption and which they see as lacking political ingenuity to stir the country to the right direction in accord with expectation of masses in Sudan.
The SPLM delegation is on a state tour across the United States selected cities rallying SPLM supporters in what Yasir Arman called "Seventh Front Campaign," meaning the Diaspora chapters and supporters. In a brief interview with New Sudan Vision in Denver, Hon. Yasir Arman said "The visit would also involved interacting with American people, US administration as well as Sudanese political forces and movement supporters" across the country.
Early on Tuesday 10th, Arman and the team paid a visit to Colorado state capital, where they met with a local house speaker Mr. Romanoff Andrew who in January, 2007 sponsored a house Bill 1184 which proposed to pull Colorado's public pension funds out of companies that do business with Sudanese government, which is accused of genocide in Darfur.
The Colorado House Speaker will visit South Sudan's capital later this year where he is expected to meet with southern Sudan's parliament speaker Wani Igga to establish bilateral relations with southern Sudan; U.S already has a consulate in Juba.
Sudanese first, other identities second
Addressing Sudanese, Yasir Arman blamed the successive Khartoum governments for failing to unite the country while pushing for Arabization and Islamization. "Sudan's problems are rooted in lack of recognition of diversity in the country. Sudan successive governments have failed Sudanese society by pursuing to build Sudan's nationalism on monolithic identity of Arabism and Islamism. These policies of Arabization and Islamization have excluded the major parts of our society and they're the major causes of instability in Sudan," Arman said.
"The failure of former Sudan's successive government to acknowledge these historical facts that Sudan is a diverse country with 570 ethnic groups and more than 100 languages is to be blame for most of our problem today . These 570 ethnic groups have great human value dating to 7000 years of Nile Valley Civilization.Therefore, if you really want to rule Sudan, you must first understand the country," he observed.
Until 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, major languages such as Dinka, Azande, Nuer and Bari were not recognized as national languages. "Why did it take us 50 years to recognize ourselves?" he asked. "The only solution in Sudan is to implement the SPLM vision of new Sudan in which everybody is respected and accorded equal opportunity by state before we become Arabs, Africans, northerners, southerners, Christians or Muslims or anything you want to be; we must all be Sudanese," Comrade Arman said.
The behavior of the so-called Arab in Sudan is as if when Irish Immigrants from Europe to America 100 years ago wanted all the early settlers in United States such as Germans, English, Italians and many others to become Irish, act Irish and speak Irish and follow Irish religion. I wonder if that was the case, what would have become of America today." he wondered.
Arman suggested that the federal system might have solved Sudan problems which South Sudan requested before independence but was rejected by the Islamic north. He proposed that the regions of Sudan have their own regional governments. "What is wrong with federation (such as) in United States? Federation has been stronger in this country. The local states make their own laws while the federal government runs the country's foreign policy. That would have been the case in Sudan but that opportunity was squandered by bad leadership in northern Sudan. We have to decentralize the system in Sudan with Darfur with its own regional government, eastern Sudan, southern Sudan and northern Sudan with all their regional governments and then the federal government for all," Arman stressed.
SPLM as instrument of change
Speaking in Arabic, Abdel Aziz praised the SPLM party as an instrument of change in Sudan. "It has started the war of liberation that brought about the CPA. The CPA is a document for all the marginalized people in Sudan. We must rally behind it so that we can transform the system in Sudan for the better. The one that guarantees the right of all," he said.
Comrade Abdel Aziz also blamed the policies of Arabazation and Islamization as the major causes of war in Sudan. "Moslems have been fooled for long time in northern Sudan that the enemy is not from within. Southern Sudanese were quick to recognize this fact and acted quickly forming Anya One, and later the Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army. They (Southerners) started to fight for their rights before we in Nuba Mountains joined them. However, eastern Sudan and Darfur who speak Arabic and at the same time Muslim assumed that they were part of the system (with the government), but they were mistaken. It took Darfurians 40 years to figure out who is the real enemy and 48 years for Beja to rise against the establishment of Islamic and Arabic north," said Abdel Aziz.
Corruption 'not news'
Asked about the corruption in the government of southern Sudan,Yasir Armen said the "Issue of corruption in the world is not news, however, fighting corruption is. We have responded by forming corruption committee to investigate the cases to corruption. President Salva Kiir has taken an initiative to make sure corruption is not tolerated in the infant government of southern Sudan. However, while there is talks of corruption in the government of southern Sudan. We have not heard any single minister accused of corruption in northern Sudan. Is it because there is no corruption in northern Sudan?"
The corruption issue is part of NCP campaign to destabilize the south, according to Arman. "Last year, 15 members of Sudan army force were captured after causing havoc in Equatoria. Also NCP is still using militia in southern Sudan as strategic force to sabotage the implementation of CPA, when it is clearly stated in the CPA protocol that other arms groups (OAG) would be integrated within 6 months of implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The goal of NCP is to create hostile environment in southern Sudan so that referendum of 2011 will not take place. That is why it is very important for the SPLM as a party of change to do well in the upcoming election in 2008 so that it can guide the implementation of CPA. NCP will not change unless democratization of the country takes place. "Free people need to choose freely and choose a government that truly represents them," concluded Yasir Saed Arman.
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