IGAD: What Peace for the Nuba and other Marginalised people?

Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo

Special Envoy

IGAD Secretariat on Peace in the Sudan


Date 9`th August 2002

Subject:  Machakos Protocol


Dear General Sumbeiywo, 

Nuba Survival, the London-based human rights groups campaigning on behalf of the Nuba and other marginalised people in Northern Sudan would like to express its full support for the Machakos Agreement, which was a good step forward for achieving a just and lasting peace in the Sudan. We support this agreement because by resolving the two contentious issues, the state and the religion and the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan had paved the way for a peace settlement in the Sudan. 

While many Sudanese people have welcomed the agreement, the people of the Nuba Mountains and other marginalised areas in northern Sudan are deeply concerned that the Machakos Protocol did not discuss or settle their problems and thus cannot achieve the justice and stability that Sudan needs. A peace that provides for a perpetuation of justice for the marginalised people, who collectively constitute a majority of northern Sudanese’s population, may well be a recipe for future conflict. These marginalised groups in the Sudan resorted to armed struggle for nearly two decades now. Some have been fighting alongside the SPLA for the same reasons that the Southerners took up the armed struggle 19 years ago. Therefore there is no logic

in recognising Southerner’s right to self-determination whilst denying it to the Nuba and South Blue Nile people who are demanding it. 

The Nuba demand the right to self-determination in full because they have a strong case which is based on their long historical record of suffering from abuses, injustices,

discrimination and marginalisation. They have sharp cultural, linguistic and other

differences with their neighbouring Arab tribes and they live in a well-defined territory according to the borders of 1925 Province Act, which show clearly that the region was a separate entity. The Nuba people are staunch unionists and they call for self-determination within a united Sudan. 

The claim - which is usually made by both the government and the SPLA at the IGAD peace process - that the Nuba Mountains are part and parcel of either of the north or of the south is not acceptable. This is now one of the Nuba concern as the two parties are fighting over who should control the Nuba Mountains and yet the people of the Nuba Mountains have not been consulted over this issue. The Nuba people should have the right to decide their political future by themselves and freely form any internal or external influence. Their options should be clearly stated, and should there be insufficient guarantees for their rights within the united Sudan, then the people of Nuba Mountains shall have the right to determine their future. 

It is important that during the Transitional Period the Nuba Mountains region should be administered separately from the north and the south and under international

supervision. Also during the Transitional Period the Nuba should be represented in the Broad National Government and they should also have an equal share of national wealth and revenues from national resources. 

At the end of the Transitional Period, the people of the Nuba Mountains should have the right to choose freely and immediately from the following options after the Southerners had carried out their referendum: 

1.      To choose to join a Southern Sudan state but with certain guarantees;  

2.      To choose to join a Northern Sudan state but with certain guarantees; 

3.      To choose to become an independent nation state in the same way as the south. 

There has been so much effort following the Burgenstock cease-fire for the Nuba Mountains and it is hoped that the Nuba case should become a model for peace for the rest of the country. It is therefore crucial after the Machakos agreement that there should be a satisfactorily negotiated political settlement for the Nuba people. Any outcome which does not reflect the wishes of the Nuba and the marginalised people will jeopardise any chance of a lasting peace. The idea to re-impose sharia law and prohibit local traditions and customs will certainly guarantee a return to fighting and undermine any progress made in other areas.

Finally, we wish you every success in your endeavour to bring about a just and a workable peace for Sudan, and this will need the consensus of all Sudanese people, and that the issue of the Nuba Mountains and other marginalised areas in northern are redressed in the next round of peace talks at Machakos. Because we believe that a workable peace can not be built on injustices. 

Yours truly, 

Suleiman M Rahhal, FIBMS

Chairman of Nuba Survival 

cc         GOS –  Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani

cc         SPLA – Cdr. Salva Kiir Mayardit

cc        US Government – Senator John Danforth

cc         UK Government – Alan Goulty

cc         Norway Government – Hilde Johnson

cc         Italy Government – Silviober Lucsconi

cc         Swiss Government- Josef Bucher