In a rush attempt to revive the ‘New Sudan’ project propagated by the unionist faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Yasir Arman, the Secretary General of the Movement’s (North) Sudanese organisation (SPLM-N), and Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, its rebellious Deputy Chairman, signed recently a military-political pact with the twin factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur and Mini Minawi, with the declared aim of waging war against the regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) and establishing a secular democracy in Sudan. Notably, it was the same Arman who missed the ‘democracy’ game in April 2010 when he, a presidential candidate, pulled out of the race citing inevitable fraud and the situation in Darfur, in line with the mainstream SPLM’s preference for a safe trade off to South Sudanese independence.
A spokesman of the SPLM-N, who until recently was a reporter for its associate Khartoum newspaper, Ajras al-Hurriya, claimed that the declaration of the brand new Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) was signed in Kauda, the SPLM’s capital so to speak in South Kordofan. The NCP press reported that the agreement was sealed inside South Sudan. Ajras al-Hurriya was recently closed down by order of the Press Council on the grounds that its shareholders included South Sudanese citizens. A cynical guess is that the pact was signed in Kampala or over the phone. Both Mini and Abdel Wahid have recently moved to the Ugandan capital, the first from Juba and the second from Paris, where they reinvented the absentee leadership of the pre-Addis Ababa Agreement (1972) South Sudanese political figureheads.
The cause of a secular Sudan did not sell well with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which refused to join the pact, and expectedly irked the SPLM-N’s ambivalent allies in the Khartoum opposition, namely the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) had before voiced its rejection of the SPLM-N’s secular agenda. The first two are more likely to seek a co-existence formula with the NCP in the really existing new Sudan, or the Second Republic to use President Bashir’s depiction of the rump North; while the third, carried away by the vengeance of its chief, prefers to invest in the promise of an ‘intifada’, possibly with the assistance of collateral guns.
Before his exit from the electoral race in April 2010 Yasir Arman and his crew had rather successfully generated a momentum for the dividends of ‘democracy’ and ‘secularism’ on a mass scale. The political space they managed to create then is today doomed to dwindle with the gun as its declared protector. Rather than unite Sudan’s dispossessed the more likely consequence of the SPLM-N’s current military fantasies is the generation of divisions within its own ranks. No wonder the organisation’s very Chairman, Malik Agar, has largely kept a distance from his colleagues designs. The governor of the Blue Nile, backed by a constituency he managed to organise politically, is more a challenge to the NCP’s hegemony than the SRF with its three armies, liberated areas, and busy satellite phones.