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Sudanese Just Peace Forum Leader On Secession of South, Unity with Egypt
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
January 7, 2011

Al-Tayyib Mustafa

Interview with Al-Tayyib Mustafa, former Sudanese communications minister and head of the Just Peace Forum, by Aydarus Abd-al-Aziz; date and place not given: Maternal Uncle of Sudanese President and Secessionist Activist: We Prefer Unity With Egypt or Chad over the South; Al-Tayyib Mustafa, former minister and head of the Just Peace Forum: “We Have Prepared Carnivals of Joy for Secession Day; Unity Solutions did not Succeed, We Spent Half a Century Fighting with the South”

Al-Tayyib Mustafa, former Sudanese communications minister and former leader in the ruling National Congress Party remained one of the few people in north Sudan calling for the secession of southern Sudan. Even when such talk was forbidden in the north, his voice was loud and his excuse was that “all unity solutions did not work and have failed to end the continuous critical state that has been going on for half a century between the two sides...there have been rivers of blood and it has destroyed the economy and facilities. Thousands of souls have perished.”

Mustafa gave up his membership of the National Congress so he is not forced to stop his calls for secession. He established the “Just Peace Forum” and a newspaper called “Al-Intibahah” to promote his ideas. Mustafa has blood relations with Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir (Mustafa is his maternal uncle). He continued to swim against his nephew`s current, which recently, launched campaigns in support of the unity of Sudan.

Mustafa says in a frank and courageous interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat : “Al-Bashir has frustrated me with his talk about unity.” Mustafa said his forum is preparing major celebrations and carnivals for when the announcement is made about the secession of the south “since it is Sudan`s real independence day.” However, he denied that he had offended the southerners, as is often rumored. He says he supports unity with Egypt, and he will not oppose if Eritrea, Ethiopia, or Chad asked to establish unity with Sudan because we have many common denominators.

He described the problems between the people in the northern Sudan regions as simply a “headache.” However, the problems in the south are “a cancer that needs to be removed. He denied that Al-Bashir has money abroad as the WikiLeaks cables claim. He said: I wish (ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-) Ocampo realizes how unjust he was when he accused him of genocide. Mustafa says: “Al-Bashir wakes up at night to pray, and fasts each Monday and Thursday of every week, and maintains contact with his female relatives.” This is not fair on the man.

(Abd-al-Aziz) You talk openly day and night calling for secession and have done so for years. Why do you want to fragment Sudan?

(Mustafa) For very simple reasons: it is because all the unity solutions did not succeed. They have failed dismally in ending the continuous state of crisis that has been going on for half a century and during which rivers of blood flowed, the economy and facilities were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of souls perished. This is the reason behind our calls for secession. Why not try that remedy, a remedy that was tried by many nations before us and now live in peace with the parts that have seceded such as the former Soviet Union countries; the former Yugoslav countries; Pakistan and India; Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Indonesia and Timor. We remained sentimental and influenced by what is written in our education curricula: “You are Sudanese and so am I, the valley embraced us and no one can separate us, Mingo (a southern name) says he who will separate us will not live.”

(Abd-al-Aziz) However, differences sometimes enrich countries and do not divide them.

(Mustafa) These are major differences in culture and identity: The north is Arab and Muslim and yearns for its Arab and Muslim surround; the south yearns for its African surround, they are like an arguing couple, divorce is the best for both because of the reasons for discord and contradictory feelings that have prevailed for dozens of years. In 1947, the southerners decided to secede from Sudan at a conference held in Juba. However, the British changed this reality and did not carry the truth of what the southerners had said. British administrative official, James Robinson, conveyed the message that they want unity. When the first spark of the war broke out in 1955 before the British departure, the southerners carried out their first ethnic cleansing when they killed scores of northerners in Turit in the south; the battles have continued until this day. Even since the peace agreement was signed in 2005, the country has not seen real peace. The movement that was the biggest partner in governance was the biggest enemy.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Why do you not look at the other side where you see major countries living in harmony despite greater differences than those in Sudan, such as the United States? It is the biggest country in the world and its diversity is the source of its wealth.

(Mustafa) The difference between us and the United States is that the US has molded into one pot and live together. As for us, the southerners are living in one area where the southerners are the predominant element. Second, the basic issue is harmony and not discord that is created by diversity. The more harmony there is the greater are the reasons for unity. The more discord and quarrels over the common ground, the more wars happen. We cannot create a garden where cats and mice live, and say this is diversity and we want them to live there in peace. Can we create one country where cats and mice live?

(Abd-al-Aziz) But the world is uniting and heading toward great entities despite the “human diversity?”

(Mustafa) There is nothing wrong in diversity where there is common ground and common denominators. However, diversity with discord, distance, and wars is a great problem, especially if people fail to find common ground.

(Abd-al-Aziz) The peace agreement (Nevasha) set a common identity and a common basis that could have been the launching pad?

(Mustafa) This agreement created the wrong foundations. It made a foundation for a country that is based on ethnic and racial bases, which was the southern ethnicity. It gave them the right to self-determination on the basis of race.

(Abd-al-Aziz) However, you are calling for secession when the others were working for unity and for consolidating it. Even the peace agreement called for unity first.

(Mustafa) The calls for secession began in the south since independence. In the north, most of the parties agreed on the right to self-determination. So, why this anger against us alone? Many northerners called for secession, but they were individual voices and we brought them all together into one entity in order to call for this direction the same way as the southerners have been calling for secession since independence.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Was the Sudan People`s Liberation Movement (SPLM) not a unionist movement, and was not its founder John Garang calling for unity and his first war was against the secessionists? Did he not call for a new Sudan for all?

(Mustafa) What Garang was calling for regarding the new Sudan was impossible to implement, because he wants to impose the identity of the minority on the majority. What does Garang say in one of his many descriptions of the concept of new Sudan? “The main goal of the SPLM is to establish a new Sudan, which means the end of the Arab Islamic model and restructuring Sudan through dissolution and replacement.” He said this in a seminar in Virginia in the US. He wants to impose the identity of the minority on the majority. They want the majority to give up its faith and Arab identity in order to appease those people. This has nothing to do with democracy.

(Abd-al-Aziz) You are accused of being racist.&n bsp; The issue is not one o f identity or otherwise, but you are racist and talk with grudge about the southerners and describe them in a racist manner?

(Mustafa) This is laughable in every sense of the word. I have never described the southern element in a derogatory way. However, I do call for a separation between the cat and the mouse. Throughout history, it has been known that whoever comes up with a new call will face strong opposition and accusations. Even when prophets came with something new they were attacked and described as magicians and crazy people. Thus, it is normal to be accused of racism. I am surprised who is calling whom racist. Is it me or the SPLM that wants the south to secede because of race and called for their right to self-determination because they are a southern element. All the northern parties called for the southerners to have the right to self-determination if their mother and father are southerners. So why is it only when Al-Tayyib Mustafa calls for the same thing, he is accused of racism? I ask you to look at southern newspapers and watch “Southern Sudan TV” and “Ebony” TV (which is a racist symbol) in order to see true racism.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Pagan Amum (secretary general of the SPLM) said you have described him as racist.

(Mustafa) This did not happen. I challenge him to prove this. My faith prevents me from describing people in a bad way. If I said anything like that then I am a non-believer inside.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Amum blamed you personally for the secession of southern Sudan?

(Mustafa) This is odd. Who has the right to vote for the unity or secession, it is the southerners who have this right. If they want unity then they should vote for it. Former Foreign Minister Deng Alor said the Al-Intibahah newspaper and myself are responsible for the new Sudan project falling through. We are proud of this because we were against the new Sudan project because it denies us our identity. It is a call for our colonization. We called for secession in the Al-Intibahah newspaper and the people jumped on it enthusiastically. Its distribution figure reached 88,000 copies, making a difference of 55,000 copies between us and the second newspaper, because we were calling for something the people wanted and expressed their views.

(Abd-al-Aziz) This is probably because you are receiving support from the state and not because of the importance of your ideas?

(Mustafa) I left the (ruling) National Congress Party in 2002, and when I wrote an article calling for secession the secretary general of the National Congress at the time (Ibrahim Ahmad Umar) asked me to stop, but I refused and left and created the Just Peace Forum. I rejected the dictatorship of the National Congress in trying to hide my opinion. The publication of a newspaper was stopped because of our frank talk. Nobody supports me from the state or government.

(Abd-al-Aziz) It is reported that you had called for the secession of the east so it joins Eritrea and the west to join Chad. What is left of Sudan?

(Mustafa) I never said that. I said if there is a region in Sudan where all the people living there decided to secede, then there is nothing wrong with that. The Holy Koran says: “There is no compulsion in religion” (Koranic verse: Al-Baqarah 2;256). So, do we make the issue of homeland greater than that of religion? Do we want everyone to remain within the framework of a homeland through “kicking and oppression?” This goes against democracy. What I said is that the problem in the south is different to other problems. Comparing the two issues is like comparing a headache to cancer. The problems between the people in the north of Sudan and the east of Sudan in Darfur are like a headache, we have no problem in terms of identity, compatibility, or race. The east agreement did not call for the right to self-determination, and even the Abuja agreement did not call for self-determination. We have not heard from those who carry weapons that they want to secede. If they do call for secession they know that they will be strongly rejected by the people. I go even further and say: if the people of Chad, Eritrea, or Ethiopia had the opportunity to unite with Sudan then everyone would welcome it, so how would it be if this was related to the people in the east or Darfur?

(Abd-al-Aziz) The Sudanese Constitution and law calls for punishing he who calls for the fragmentation of Sudan. You have been calling for secession for years and you have not been affected by this legislation. From where do you get your power?

(Mustafa) I know what you are suggesting. However, what I am saying is that the referendum law gives the right and chance for everyone to give an opinion in the two directions: secession and unity, through the media outlets. The Koran allows for the opinion of the other.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Do you support establishing cooperation between the north and south after secession, such as dual nationality, and the four freedoms for which the SPLM is calling?

(Mustafa) This is completely rejected. The dual nationality is dangerous to northern Sudan. We have not heard of a country giving its nationality to the people of another country. Why are they asking for secession if they want to hold onto the Sudanese nationality? They said that we are racist against them and that they are third grade citizens in the north, so what are they going to do with the nationality? As for the four freedoms, they are not stipulated in international law. The special relations that were created between Egypt and Sudan were behind the granting of the four rights to the people of the two countries. These rights are: the freedom of movement, freedom of work, freedom of residence, and freedom of ownership. It is not necessary to grant these freedoms to any other country...but maybe for one country or two, but these must not be granted to southern Sudan so we can identify the shape of the relationship after secession.

If there is a good continuous relationship for a few years (from 4-10 years) then we can grant these freedoms. As for now and in light of the SPLM working and calling for the establishment of the new Sudan project in the north even after secession, then how can we allow for the existence of an element that is working on implementing the political project of another country? How can we allow for a group working as a “Trojan Horse” inside our country? There are relations between us and other countries such as Chad, Eritrea, and Ethiopia that are more worthy to offer dual nationality as is the current situation with Egypt. The southerners must be tested first.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Do you consider that there is greater closeness between the people of northern Sudan and the peoples of Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Chad than with the southerners, despite the fact that they are people of one country?

(Mustafa) Yes there is no doubt, we have tried those people and we do not have a problem with them. As for the south, we have a continuous problem.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Are you not afraid of feuds between the other northern regions or an extension of the southern problems in Abyei, the Blue Nile, or the Nuba Mountains?

(Mustafa) Ethiopia has more ethnicities, and when Eritrea seceded we did not see any other rebellion from other ethnicities. The links between the people in north Sudan are very strong, and have reached a point of melting and marriage. It is true there is an international agenda, but we will defeat it. However, as for what is happening on border contact lines with the south, we have called for resolving the border problems before the referendum so it is not pending for decades as is the case in Kashmir, Badami, and between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Despite the fact that we are calling for speeding up the secession w e are also calling for the pending problems to be resolved before the referendum.

(Abd-al-Aziz) You are talking about an Arab and Islamic north, and so is the president. However, this is not the case. There are Christians and non-Arab elements such as the For and the Zaghawah in the West and the Nuba Mountains and in the East and the Blue Nile areas.

(Mustafa) Let us differentiate between two issues: First of all, they are all Muslims. When the south secedes then there will be no issue called “identity.” The Islamic identity is agreed upon by 97 percent of the people in north Sudan. What Al-Bashir said is that the conflict over identity will be over. As for the Arab part, it is true there are tribes that are not Arab but they speak real Arabic. Arabic is a language as described by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. All the north of Sudan speaks Arabic and therefore they are Arabs. There is no problem with the Arab, Islamic identity when there is a majority. In Europe, Christianity is the predominate (faith) but there are other religions. Muslims in Europe do not practice their full rights.

(Abd-al-Aziz) They say that whatever you write is adopted days later by the president in a speech?

(Mustafa) This is not true. The president works through the National Congress institutions. If the president says what I believe then he would have taken a stand against Nevasha, which I believe is a great mistake, while the National Congress sees it as a great achievement. The president did not adopt what I said regarding the Shari`ah because his position vis-a-vis the Shari`ah is that it is one of the principles of the National Congress and he has said this from the start. So he did not bring anything new.

(Abd-al-Aziz) What happened? Al-Bashir was calling for unity and launching campaigns and now he is talking about the northern state?

(Mustafa) Al-Bashir continues to be a unionist and is fighting in a very “frustrating” manner for unity. He has made sacrifices for the sake of unity, most recently was the setting up of the school rotation in the south for which facilities were built; and no sooner had this rotation concluded, than its members were expelled. The southerners are practicing the policy of: is there any more? The president granted them all the oil revenue and they said we want Abyei. They gave them 50 percent of the oil and they want more. This is the policy of embezzlement.

(Abd-al-Aziz) But 70 percent of the oil wells are in their regions.

(Mustafa) This is a national wealth; it is for the entire homeland. Nevertheless, they were given 50 percent as producing regions when the producing regions in the north received 2 percent. It gave them more than what Garang was planning.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Do you constantly meet Al-Bashir and discuss these issues with him?

(Mustafa) I meet him during many social and family events and he often tells me off for what is said about me, especially in relation to fighting Nevasha and for using harsh words with the opposition. I support powerful words.

(Abd-al-Aziz) But without harm.

(Mustafa) Without harm... words shock others.

(Abd-al-Aziz) What do you admire about Al-Bashir?

(Mustafa) He is a religious man. He prays at night and fasts each Monday and Thursday of every week. He is present at every occasion for a man or woman in the old neighborhood of Kubar where he lives. He laughs with the young and old. He is very humble. It is a pity Ocampo does not know this, to realize how unfair he is to this man in his harsh accusations against him. How can he make such accusations when the real criminals and bloodsuckers in Abu-Ghurayb are walking around happily?

(Abd-al-Aziz) It is said that you are mediating in order to find a place of exile for Al-Bashir in a Gulf country?

(Mustafa) This never happened.

(Abd-al-Aziz) I repeat what we hear and read in Khartoum.

(Mustafa) I swear by my marriage that this did not happen.

(Abd-al-Aziz) WikiLeaks says Al-Bashir has billions abroad?

(Mustafa) This is far from logic and truth. There are sanctions against Sudanese officials in the West so how can he deposit his money there if this is what Ocampo says. Al-Bashir does not have a penny abroad. What is said is a cheap charade that was created by Ocampo. I do not know how he does this as the General Prosecutor. How can he take this direction when he is only authorized to go in one direction, and that is pertaining to Darfur.

(Abd-al-Aziz) It is said that Al-Bashir`s brothers have major investments?

(Mustafa) His brothers are working in the investment fields and this is not shameful. You know what the brothers of third world leaders do. I confirm they are investors, and what is wrong with that? It is sufficient to say that his brother Sadiq Ahmad al-Bashir is in London and he is a doctor. If he wanted to take advantage of the situation then he would have come to Sudan. One of his brothers was an expatriate in the UAE (Muhammad Hasan) and he returned a few years ago.

I believe what is said is exaggeration by the opposition. I am not certain whether all that they do is correct or incorrect. I cannot say anything for certain, but they have the right to work in trade or business just as the rest of the Sudanese people have the right. Why should they be denied this right? Because they are brothers of the president? There are some issues and facilities that God gives to his people that we must not oppose. There are some party leaders whose sons reached high ranks within the party not because they are capable but because their father is the party leader. Even some party leaders did not reach the presidency except that they inherited it from their fathers.

(Abd-al-Aziz) How are you preparing for the secession of the south?

(Mustafa) We have prepared for carnivals of joy. We have started to prepare for the prayers of thanks in all public squares. We believe that the secession day is the real independence of Sudan. The independence was not when the British left Sudan because when they left they kept a thorn in our side and that thorn is conflict over identity. True independence is when this conflict ends: when we obtain the divorce between the feuding couple. May God give them a good husband and wife and we hope that they will marry Uganda or Kenya and we hope that the north marries Egypt and so on.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Are you one of those who call for the north to join Egypt?

(Mustafa) Had Sudan remained united with Egypt then we would not have had the issue of identity or secession. We could have invaded Africa with a strong identity that would have extended into the depths of the continent. However, now we are a low pressure region because we seceded from Egypt.

(Abd-al-Aziz) Do you have southern friends?

(Mustafa) Yes I do. I have Lam Akul and Abdallah Deng before he joined Al-Turabi after the National Congress split..(he recalls) .. the important thing there...Abu-Bakir Deng (whom I do not know)...the three of them. However, my strong animosity is toward Baqan Amum, who I believe is the strongest instigator of problems in the transitional period,..also Yasir Arman.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL:

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