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April 1, 2003

Call To End Repression of Nubians
Click: Omar Al-Bashir
The AUF is appealing to the Sudan government not to use military repression in addressing the rebellion in the Darfur region of The Sudan. The Sudan government must seek to resolve the concerns of the people of Darfur through diplomatic means early on. Amara Essy and Thabo Mbeki need to put together an all-African peacekeeping force to help in creating safe zones in the conflict areas, in order to facilitate conflict resolution negotiations and to provide humanitarian assistance.

The uprising in Darfur region of the Sudan is escalating and is entering into its second month. The newly formed Sudan Liberation Army has captured Jebel Marra. The SLA is calling for the separation of religion and state and for a federal form of government in the Sudan. Ibrahim Mirghani Ibrahim, Sudan's representative to the UN in Geneva, said that the Darfur conflict was the result of environmental degradation and desertification, causing a scarcity of pasture that pitted nomadic tribes against farming tribes.

The SPLA/SPLM (not to be confused with the new and unrelated SLA) which has recently negotiated a successful ceasefire with the Sudan government released a statement saying "the people of Darfur had a just cause regardless of whether they were of African or Arab background, in that all of them suffered from political and economic marginalisation". The SPLA/M strong holds are in Blue Nile Province and the Nuba Mountains, whereas the SLA is in Darfur.

However, the response of Omar Bashir regime toward the Darfur uprising is typical, unfortunate and inflamatory. Bashir has instituted special courts, group trials, death sentences and cruel and inhumane punishment such as amputation. The Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has appealed to the government of Sudan to engage in dialogue regarding the rebellion in Darfur instead of seeking a military solution to the problem.

There has been a mutiny by Sudan regular troops at Kabkabeya army base in support of the SLA, during which more than 30 soldiers died, including the base commander. Moreover, dissident Chadian army Colonel Ahmed Garfa has crossed into the Sudan with more than 1,500 of his troops. Darfur region contains 25% of the Sudan's population, consisting of several large transfrontier communities. The uprising has the potential to spread and draw into the conflict the states of Chad, Libya, and the Central African Republic. There is oil and other miniral extraction concerns that will make the conflict infinitely more complex if it is allowed to mature into a fullscale regional war.

The forecasts for a high GDP growth rate for the African Union in 2003 are dependent on the reduction of conflict. The escalation of regional destabilization by the Liberian regime of Charles Tylor, the uprising in the Niger Delta, the continuing conflict between Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame over the Congo, the Coup d'Etat in the Central African Republic, and the new unrest in Darfur region may reverse the gains made over the course of 2002. These conflicts are being driven by the private interests of a few persons, who use aggressively repressive methods to police and contain social, economic and political dissent.