While the peace process is moving steadily in Machakos to end the North/South conflict, the issue of the "marginalised areas"- the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile - still constitutes a major problem which posses a serious dilemma for IGAD. If the issue of these contested areas is not resolved it could jeopardise the entire peace process.
The centrality of the Nuba to the conflict and the fighting in all fronts is apparent and cannot be ignored or separated from the whole peace settlement. Therefore, their political rights should not be compromised in order to reach peace settlement.
Towards the end of November and the beginning of December 2002, two Nuba conferences were held at two different locations. One conference was held in Kampala, Uganda between 21-24 November 2002 and the other held in Kauda in the Nuba Mountains between 2-5 December 2002 ( for details see page 6 and 11 of this issue).
The seminar in Kampala, the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile Forum was organised by Justice Africa and hosted by the Pan Africa Movement, under the theme of "working together for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Sudan". The seminar was attended by some forty participants representing a very wide section of civil society organisations, political parties and civil society leaders from Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile regions, in addition to representatives from the Government controlled areas. There were also representatives from IGAD, Joint Military Commission (JMC) and other observers. The civil society organisations from the SPLA controlled areas in Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile were invited to the seminar but unfortunately they declined to participate, which was a major disappointment.
Peace talks between the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudanese government failed to start as planned on 15 January in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, due to the absence of the delegation from Khartoum. Sudan’s delegation leader Ali Abdelrehman Nimeri told the meeting that his delegation was not in Nairobi, because they had not received an invitation to attend.
The special session of peace talks between the Sudan government and the SPLA
was due to discuss three disputed areas in the centre of Sudan: Southern Blue Nile, Abyei and the Nuba Mountains "Our delegation is ready to make arrangements to fly to Nairobi the minute it receives a notification of the meeting," Nimeri said in a statement read to the session, officially opened by new Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka.
Between 21-24 November 2002, Grant Imperial Hotel, Kampala, Uganda
1. Recognising the importance of the role of civil society in achieving comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Sudan in general and in the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile in particular, the seminar of the civil society of the two regions was organised by Justice Africa and hosted by the Pan African Movement in Kampala on 21-24 November 2002, under the theme of "working together for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Sudan."
2. The deliberations were conducted in an atmosphere characterised by responsibility, transparency and determination to contribute effectively to achieving peace through dialogue on all issues pertaining to it. The deliberations showed the importance of the participation of political activists and leaders of civil society of the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile in discussing the major political issues of Sudan to achieve comprehensive, just and lasting peace; as the two regions have suffered much from war, their citizens are the most keen to encourage the peace efforts taking place in Machakos, Kenya.
The Sudanese government and Sudan Peoples Liberation Army/ Movement (SPLA/M) have renewed the Burgenstock Ceasefire Agreement a few weeks ago. This second renewal is to continue for another six months and will expire in July 19, 2003. The Ceasefire was brokered by Senator Danforth, the US Special Peace Envoy for Sudan, who had chosen the Nuba Mountains to be a ‘test case’ for peace building confidence between the two sides. The agreement has brought some security to the region and the bombing of civilians has also stopped.
In other words hostilities have reduced to a low level in the region and this is due to the presence of an international Joint Military Commission (JMC) which was established immediately after the signing of the agreement in Burgenstock. There are now more than five monitoring units situated at different parts of the Nuba Mountains and have it’s headquarters in Umm-Sirdiba. This second renewal of the Accord means a lot to the Nuba, particularly at this critical period. The significance of this agreement has already been stated by Jan Erik Wilhelmsen, chairman of the international Joint Military Commission (JMC), who said, "This is indeed a great moment for all the people of the Nuba Mountains... The Nuba people have for years been in the front line of the war and without adequate humanitarian support."
Sibir al-Khail (Horse Sibir) which is also known as Sibir al-Nahr (fire sibir) is one of the important sibirs practised by the Ajunk tribes, which includes Kadru, al-Gulfan, Dilling, Debri, al-Karku, Kujoria, Fandag, Wali, Tabag, Abujunok and Shifra, who are living in Dilling area. This sibir in the Ajank language is called "Bithouri" which means ‘gentle treatment’. The kujur, a spiritual person, is responsible for declaring the beginning and the closing dates of the sibir ceremony.
Usually this Sibir starts in mid-September and continues for a whole month. The significance of this sibir is to show how important the horse is to the Ajunk people and there is strong spiritual relationship between the two. In Kadru, one of the Ajunk tribes, Sibir al-Khail is known as ‘Kogukanjama’. The new horse is kept outside the village until the time of sibir and during this time the horse will be fed with milk. The Horse is then taken to the Kujur’s house for a special ceremony and will be decorated with coloured beads which are sewn into the leather harness together with Orchid feathers. The Kujur will use the branch of a special tree containing green leaves to spray water onto the horse, the owner and the people present.