Five days full of inaugurations and shoulder to shoulder gatherings
By\ Mekki Elmograbi*
The tour reminds me of the tour of 2008 in which Western Media was extremely surprised by Al-Bashir appearance on top of a podium surrounded with tens of thousands in a region “labeled” as war-torn!
President of the Republic of the Sudan Omar Al-Bashir has just concluded a five-day trip to Darfur ahead of the April 11 referendum that will decide whether Darfur is united as a region or remains five separate states. Bashir visited each of the five capital cities of the Darfur states, where he met people in several gatherings and public rallies, stood shoulder to shoulder with local people, and even danced with them to traditional music. All events were scheduled and announced in the media almost a week in advance, which indicates that the Sudanese government’s role in Darfur and the level of peace and stability in Darfur is mischaracterized in some media.
Al-Bashir confirmed that the government will implement the result of the referendum as it will represent the will of the people. “It is the people of Darfur who choose; we just encourage them to go to vote and participate,” he stated.
The referendum was one provision of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur signed in 2011, which received wide support from the international community and was adopted by the UN Security Council and the African Union. The chairman of the Darfur Regional Authority, Dr. Al-Tigani Al-Sessi called on the people of Darfur to practice their right to vote in the referendum on April 11. He highlighted the development projects that have been implemented in Darfur after the Doha Document was signed. He confirms that the Darfur Regional Authority has launched 622 projects in 40 localities in Darfur. According to the Darfur Peace Follow-up Office, the total external support to development projects in Darfur reached $1.2 billion.
President Al-Bashir declared that the state governments should give displaced people the right to settle in the refugee camps, by converting the camps and nearby areas into new cities. He also said displaced people can join the voluntary repatriation program and return to their homes. In all cases the local governments should provide basic health services, education, clean drinking water, and other services.
The right to education includes the right to free, compulsory primary education for all, which is enshrined in the Sudanese constitution. Education in Sudan is free and compulsory for children aged 6 to 13, but Al-Bashir made it clarified to encourage governments to protect the right to education, and to encourage families to allow their children to go to school up to the end of the primary school.
In Al-Fashir: There are three major issues in development in Darfur: transportation, trade and security. Historically, Darfur is known for its vast markets; Al-Fashir itself is named after the largest market. People bring their cattle and agricultural products and purchase what they need. The area is rich, but the best recipe for peace in Darfur is security, safe roads and organized markets.
President Omer Al-Bashir inaugurated a new marketplace in the eastern gate of Al-Fashir. The area is 104,000 square meters and cost SDG 24,519 million. The president declared that he will create a high committee for collecting arms because the trade movement could not survive with the spread of unlicensed arms. Now that Al-Bashir has organized markets and the road has been paved to Al-Fashir, but there is an urgent need to collect unlicensed arms. Al-Bashir also declared a ban on collecting tolls on the roads, saying that the imposition of fees on the roads has increased the prices of basic commodities and hindered the movement of goods.
In Nyala: President Omar Al-Bashir inaugurated some internal roads, the rehabilitated Nyala Stadium, Justice Tower, Zakat chamber buildings, new buildings at Nyala University and an electricity distributing project. He also attended the signing of a contract to implement the 95-kilometer stretch of the Western Ingaz Highway from Al-Fasher, which will connect the entire region from north to south.
In Geneina: the president inaugurated the Ministry of Education, the state police headquarters, new buildings at Geneina University and a number of infrastructures and services.
In Zalengei: Al-Bashir inaugurated Zakat Chamber, internal roads, the solar energy project and the Health Security Centre, adding that Nyala - Kas - Zalengei will be inaugurated in less than six months to contribute to the trade and people's movement between South and Central Darfur States.
In Al-Deain: Al-Bashir inaugurated several projects in Al-Deain, including the seat of the government, Al-Deain Airport and National Security and Intelligent Services building. The President also inaugurated the campaign of (zero thirsty) in Abu-Karinka locality as well as schools, banks, and health facilities in the locality.
Do you remember?
For me, this tour manifests the battle against poverty, ignorance and disease, but it reminds me of another tour. It was in July 2008, a few days after the International Criminal Court fabricate d its false indictment against President Omar Al-Bashir, in an act against the sovereignty of Sudan and the dignity of the Sudanese people. Al-Bashir’s first visit after the “ICC’s indictment” was not to Doha or Addis Ababa, not to an Arab or African ally, but it was to Darfur. He surrounded himself by Sudanese people in an open rally. All the cities and places he visited in Darfur are open to the desert and to mountains and are surrounded by displaced people camps. In some areas, people openly carry automatic guns. It was a Sudanese message that the ICC indictment was false.
Al-Bashir stood on the podium in the heart of Al-Fashir city while people were coming from the mountains and the desert, riding on camels and horses. “It is one of the strangest things has ever seen to witness Mr. Al-Bashir doing a spirited jig on top of a desk that has been set up in front of tenth of thousands people,” commented Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times in a video. “The question is; are these people driven by affection or fear”, he said. The videoclip is still on the New York Times website; I hope it will not be removed because it allows people to judge. Is the government able to control the crowds when someone accused of orchestrating genocide visits what the media call a war-torn region?
The countdown of the ICC started after that historical visit. Africa discovered that something was wrong after that, followed by the entire world, including India and Indonesia lately. The campaign was heavily politicized and manipulated by some political lobbies serving political interests, not human rights.
Facts and figures about development in Darfur in the period of the peace agreements:
·The number of Primary students increased from 83,893 to 1,139,000
·Secondary from 4,000 to 166,000.
·There are 14 FM Radio in Darfur and there are 10 coming soon
·The number of the Poor families receiving aid from 28 Mil to 272 mil
·Darfur roads projects reached the cost of $2 bil
·Fashir Niyala road 200 mil
·The Railway $240 mil, just 14 klm remains
·451 well 300 pump
·Number of people who have Health insurance jumped from 451,000 to 2,272,000, and the Hospitals from 13 to 76 hospitals and 862 Clinics, nurses from 220 to 1720.
Media & Information Attaché
Embassy of the Sudan
+1(202)338-8565 Ex. 333