VI. POLITICS IN WAU AND GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED SOUTHERN SUDAN: The Political Charter (1996) and the Peace Agreement (1997)
On April 10, 1996 the government of Sudan signed a Political Charter173 with Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon and Kerubino Kuanyin Bol as representatives of the SSIM/A. Riek Machar had been an SPLA field commander in Upper Nile in 1991 when he, Dr. Lam Akol (a Shilluk intellectual and SPLA strategist), and others attempted an internal SPLA coup; when that failed they formed their own rebel faction which came to be known as the South Sudan Independence Movement/Army (SSIM/A). At the time of the 1991 split, Kerubino was still in an SPLA jail. He and others, including his deputy Faustino Atem Gualdit, were detained in 1987 on suspicion that they were plotting a coup against Garang, among other things. Kerubino, who escaped with Faustino and Arok Thon Arok from an SPLA bush jail in late 1992, claimed he did not learn of the Riek coup attempt until his escape.174
In 1993 the three joined Riek=s faction. The SSIM/A was predominately but not entirely Nuer, and Kerubino=s Dinka troops were an important political element in the SSIA. Kerubino=s troops only attacked civilians and the SPLA from 1994 to 1997, never attacking the government prior to January 1998Ca pattern in common with the rest of the SSIA forces.
The Political Charter provided for a referendum to determine the political aspirations of the people of southern Sudan. A Southern States Coordinating Council was to be formed for the interim government of the southern states, which were the ten southern states formed from the former provinces of Bahr El Ghazal, Equatoria, and Upper Nile, as boundaries stood at independence in 1956.175 These ten states were, in contrast to the sixteen northern, eastern, and western states, little more than garrison towns in a sea of rebel-held territory. After the garrison town of Yirol fell in 1997, the state of which it was the Acapital@CBuheirat (Lakes)Chad no territory whatsoever that was controlled by the government. In the state of Warab, only Gogrial town remained in government hands after Tonj fell in 1997.
On April 21, 1997, the parties to the Political Charter and others signed a Peace Agreement with the government of Sudan.176 Although the government presented this Peace Agreement as a significant breakthrough for peace, the fact is that the only Arebel@ parties to the Peace Agreement that had any military capacity had been fighting the SPLA, not the government, since 1991, or, in Kerubino=s case, since 1994. The principal rebel signatories to the Peace Agreement had already made peace with the government pursuant to the Political Charter of 1996. The SPLA did not participate in these negotiations nor did it sign the Political Charter or the Peace Agreement.
The SSCC was established on August 7, 1997 with President Omar El Bashir=s appointment of Riek Machar as its chair.177 The official government radio noted that the appointments of the deputy chair and other members would follow Asoon.@178 Other members were to include the governors of the ten southern states.179
Just one week later, Kerubino demanded that the post of vice president of the SSCC be given to a Dinka. He accused Riek of ANuer domination@ of the council, and refused to place his forces under Riek=s command.180 Shortly after this demand Kerubino, his deputy Faustino Atem Gualdit, Arok Thon Arok, and Nikanora Achiek were reinstated in the Sudanese Army by presidential decree, a measure to help them Aregain confidence in the government.@181 All were Dinka, and received higher ranks than they had when they defected from the Sudan army in 1983. Kerubino was given the rank of major general and Arok the rank of brigadier.182
Under Sudan=s federal system, members of state parliaments were to elect the governors (walis) of each state from a list of three nominees selected by the president of Sudan. The governor of Khartoum was elected in June 1997 and elections for governor in fifteen northern states took place in late August 1997,183 after the state governors were summoned to Khartoum in early August and informed that they would be dismissed pending elections to replace them.184
The governorships in the south were to be decided upon differently, pursuant to the Peace Agreement, which provided for the president of the SSCC to recommend his cabinet including the governors to the Sudan president for appointment.185 According to the U.S. spokesperson for Riek=s political group, the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF), a disagreement arose between Riek and Kerubino over the governors. Kerubino wanted to adhere to the Peace Agreement and have Riek (in consultation) name a governor for each state then send the governors to President Bashir for appointment. Riek wanted to deviate from this part of the Peace Agreement and select three candidates for governor for each state. These names would be sent to Bashir for approval, and the state assemblies would then vote for governor186 (as was done in the northern states).
Kerubino rallied many southerners to his position, based in part on his argument that the NIF controlled the state assemblies (composed of people who lived in the garrison towns) and therefore the results of the elections would be NIF governors. Riek=s position was that if they let the president of Sudan interfere in the selection process at this early period, he would be precluded from interfering later, after elections.187
Riek=s strategy prevailed. President Bashir decreed that the southern parliaments hold elections for governor for each state, the governors to be members of the SSCC.188 This was preceded by a presidential decree dissolving the parliaments of the ten southern states and appointing new ones, whose members were recommended by Riek Machar.189 The new southern state parliaments were ordered to convene on November 27, 1997.190
Riek recommended three candidates for the governorship of each southern state to President Bashir, who forwarded the names he approved to the newly appointed state assemblies for a vote.191
The majority of the population was disenfranchised in these elections for governor. Only some forty persons in each state had the voteCappointed members of state assemblies, according to Riek=s UDSFCalthough this procedure was not provided for in the Political Charter nor Peace Agreement. This was a tiny democratic step forward. Many state legislators did not actually live in the south, but began to travel there as Ainvited@ by President Bashir in late November for the elections.192
Contests developed as some non-NIF candidates were nominated for governorships. Incumbent NIF governor Ali Tamim Fartak of Wau (Western Bahr El Ghazal) was a candidate for governor, and the Fertit militia leader Tom Al Nour led his electoral campaign. But Ali Tamim Fartak was not popular with Kerubino, who backed a rival candidate in the election for governor: Charles Julu Kyopo, of the Jur (Luo) tribe, which is associated with the Dinka. Riek=s people also regarded Charles Julu as Aour man.@193
Perhaps to the surprise of the Khartoum government, NIF candidates lost in some southern states. In Wau, Julu defeated the incumbent Fartak by twenty-three of forty votes. The Riek candidate in Northern Bahr El Ghazal (Aweil), Kwac Makuei (a signatory of the Peace Agreement), prevailed against the NIF candidate, Joseph Ajuang.194
Kerubino did not have a clean sweep, however. In Warab, Kerubino=s candidate Faustino Atem Gualdit lost to Arop Achier Akol. The understanding among Kerubino sympathizers in Wau was that Achier was a NIF candidate.195
Kerubino protested that Arop Achier was elected with a majority of only two votes, and that state ministers (who were not legislative assembly members) were allowed to vote in Warab. Riek supported the election of Arop Achier over these protests.196
Riek=s candidate Taban Deng Gai won in the crucial oil-rich state, Wihda or Unity. This led the Khartoum government-supported warlord Paulino Matiep to clash in Western Upper Nile with Riek=s SSDF forces many times in 1998, as related below. Lam Akol was defeated in Upper Nile197 by a Nuer medical doctor formerly with the SPLM/A and SSIM/A, Dr. Timothy Tong Tutlam, a Riek candidate.198 Lam Akol was later appointed Minister of Transportation by President Bashir.
Some sources said that the NIF lost in nine of ten southern states; others said seven of ten. One press report said that the results were split almost equally among candidates loyal to Riek Machar and those fielded by the government.199 Riek=s supporters claimed many winners as allies.200
173 Political Charter, April 10, 1996, Khartoum (containing fourteen points of general principles), signed by First Vice President Zubeir, Riek, and Kerubino.
174 Human Rights Watch interview, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Nairobi, June 21, 1993.
175 There have been numerous internal boundary redrawings and divisions since 1956. The last was in 1994 when Sudan was divided into twenty-six states, ten of them southern. What was Bahr El Ghazal in 1956 was divided into Northern Bahr El Ghazal (Aweil), Western Bahr El Ghazal (Wau), Warab (Tonj), and Lakes or Buheirat (Yirol).
176 The Sudan Peace Agreement, Khartoum, April 21, 1997. It was signed for the Arebels@ by Riek, Kerubino, Commander Kwac Makuei Mayar (or Kawac Makwei, Chairman and Commander-in-Chief, South Sudan Independents Group), Dr. Thisphohis Ochang Loti (a Lokoya never in the SPLA; Chairman and Commander-in-Chief, Equatoria Defense Force created in 1995), Samuel Aru Bol (of Rumbek, Chairman, Union of Sudanese African Parties), and Arok Thon Arok Kongor (Chairman, Bor Group). Only Riek and Kerubino had more than a handful of armed followers.
At the same time as the Peace Agreement was signed with the above six, a separate peace agreement was entered into with a faction from the Nuba Mountains, the ASPLM/Nuba Mountains group,@ led by Muhammad Harun Kafi. APeace Accord with Rebel Factions Signed in Khartoum,@ Republic of Sudan Radio, Omdurman, April 21, 1997, in Arabic, BBC Monitoring Service: Middle East. This faction was not known to have any troops.
Those who joined the Peace Agreement after it was signed were the SPLM-United (a faction of the SSIM headed by Dr. Lam Akol, loosely based on his Shilluk tribe), by amendment to the Peace Agreement on September 21, 1997 that was negotiated by Dr. Lam Akol and signed by Commander Akwoch Mayong Jago: also signing for the SPLA-United were Major General Bushra Uthman Yusuf, secretary of military affairs, Upper Nile military area, and Commander Awad Jago Musa al-Mek Kur, member and animal resources minister. It was witnessed by His Majesty Reth Kwongo Dak Padiet, the reth (king) of the Shilluk.
177 Peace Agreement, Ch. 5 (1) (c): AThe President of the Republic in consultation with parties signatory to this Agreement shall appoint the President of the Coordinating Council.@ He is accountable to the President of the Republic. Ibid., (1) (b).
178 "Sudanese President Appoints Head of Southern [Council],@ Xinhua, Khartoum, August 7, 1997.
179 Peace Agreement, Ch. 5 (9): Agovernors of the southern states shall be members in the Coordinating Council by virtue of their post.@
180 AInfighting Among Southern Leaders Threatens Council,@ IPS, Khartoum, August 11, 1997.
181 "Kerubino, Arok Thon and Faustino Reinstated,@ Sudan Update (London), vol. 8, No. 19, September 15, 1997, quoting al-Anbaa, August 23, 1997.
183 "President Bashir Dismisses State Governors Pending Gubernatorial Election,@ Republic of Sudan Radio, Omdurman, in Arabic, August 9, 1997, BBC Monitoring Service: Middle East, August 11, 1997; ANew Governors Elected in 15 Northern States,@ Republic of Sudan Radio, Omdurman, in Arabic, August 15, 1997, BBC Monitoring Service: Middle East, August 18, 1997.
184 "Sudanese states governors relieved of office,@ AFP, Khartoum, August 9, 1997.
185 The Peace Agreement states: AThe President of the Coordinating Council in consultation with Southern political forces shall recommend his cabinet including the Governors (Walis) to the President of the Republic for appointment.@ Ch. 5, art. 7 (1) (d).
186 Human Rights Watch interview with Biel Torkech Rambang, representative in the U.S. of UDSF, Washington, DC, December 14, 1998.
188 "New governors for southern states to be elected soon,@ SUNA News Agency, Khartoum, November 23, 1997. Peace Agreement, Ch. 5 (9): Agovernors of the southern states shall be members in the Coordinating Council by virtue of their post.@
189 The Peace Agreement provides in Ch. 5 (1) (g): AUntil the atmosphere is conducive for elections of State Assemblies to take place, the President of the Coordinating Council, in consultation with the political forces, shall recommend to the President of the Republic new members of legislative assemblies in the Southern States for appointment.@
190 "Sudanese president appoints new southern state assemblies,@ Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Khartoum, November 17, 1997.
191 ASudanese president dissolves state parliaments, appoints new southern state assemblies,@ DPA, Khartoum, November 17, 1997. State parliaments have not had a particularly sound institutional life. As of January 1, 1999, President Bashir dissolved the state parliaments (appointed in late 1997) on the grounds that there would be elections for these bodies at the beginning of 1999. These elections were expected to be contested by parties as yet not registered under the government=s Apolitical association@ bill lifting the ban on multiparty politics. The state parliaments would be empty until some time in 1999. ASudanese president dissolves state parliaments,@ DPA, Khartoum, December 31, 1998.
192 "New Governors for Southern States to be Elected Soon,@ SUNA News Agency, Khartoum, in English, November 23, 1997, BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts.
193 Human Rights Watch interview, Biel Torkech Rambang, December 14, 1998.
194 Riek sources say Kerubino and Makuei were not close. See Appendix E.
195 Human Rights Watch interview, Lokichokkio, May 11, 1998; ANew Governors Elected in Southern States,@ SUNA News Agency, Khartoum, in English, December 1, 1997, BBC Monitoring Summary of World Broadcasts.
196 Letter, Dr. Riek Machar to President Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir (undated, but after July 4, 1998), Appendix F.
197 Lam Akol, a Shilluk, originally said he accepted nomination to the office of governor of Upper Nile state, A>in response to a demand by the people of Upper Nile,=@which included the Shilluk. AFormer rebel accepts nomination for governor=s post in Sudan,@ AFP, Khartoum, November 23, 1997.AFormer Sudanese rebel leader defeated in state elections,@ DPA, Khartoum, December 1, 1997.
198 Tutlam, plus Political Charter and Peace Agreement signatories First Vice President Al Zubeir Mohamed Salih and Arok Thon Arok, and others, died in a plane crash in February 1998, which Lam Akol survived. ASudan vice president dies in plane crash, SPLA claims downing,@ AFP, Khartoum, February 12, 1998. The SPLA later withdrew its claim of responsibility for the crash.
199 AFormer Sudanese rebel leader defeated in state elections,@ DPA, Khartoum, December 1, 1997.
200 See Appendix E.