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Agar: The SPLM is an integral part of the Northern political landscape

Osman Shinger
The head of the Northern branch of the Sudan People\'s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Malik Agar, confirms the movement\'s hope and intention to remain active in the North, even after the independence of the South.
الرئيس الجديد لقطاع الشمال في الحركة الشعبية مالك عقار
الرئيس الجديد لقطاع الشمال في الحركة الشعبية مالك عقار

With the upcoming independence of Southern Sudan in July, the SPLM branch in the North has to take new predispositions for its work. Malik Agar, the new president of the SPLM-North, commented on the continuity of his party in the North and a number of other related issues.

Q: What were the results of the meeting you had with the Vice-President Ali Osman?

Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.
Photo by: Utenriksdept
Agar: The Meeting with Ali Osman came after a new leadership was chosen to head the Northern branch of the SPLM. This meeting was a continuation of our efforts to complete a series of dialogues with different political parties and with the civil society.

Our meeting with the National Congress Party (NCP), represented by Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, discussed Sudan's political challenges and the issues related to the transitional period ending on 9 July.

We as well discussed the role the SPLM's Northern branch is to play during this period and the party's position on the regime in place. We stand firm on the view that Sudan needs new ruling mechanisms for the management of its affairs.  

Q: There are rumours indicating that the Northern branch of the SPLM would not be allowed to be active in Sudan? Has this been officially communicated to you?

Agar: We have not received any official notification affirming that we have to cease our political activities in the North. The SPLM is an integral part of the Northern political landscape. The party's Northern branch is registered as an official and legal political party in Sudan.

In January Agar said in an interview with Aisha Al-Samany: "If the movement does not stand with my demands I will leave it"

Q: It seems like the SPLM is not party to the dialogue taking place between the NCP and the opposition parties. Why is this the case?

Agar: Indeed, the SPLM is currently preoccupied with many issues. We do not ignore the political situation in Sudan. At the same time, we are in the process of rebuilding and reorganising the party and we are continuing the dialogue with all political forces in Sudan. We make sure to communicate our point of view on all issues of concern.

The SPLM office in Karim, Northern Sudan - photo by hypermobility

Q: What would be your strategy in case the ruling party suspends the activities of the SPLM in Sudan?

Agar: We will cross that bridge when we get to it. If the NCP refuses to allow the SPLM to be active in Sudan, we will know how to deal with the situation in time.

Q: How optimistic are you about the SPLM running its political activities in the North, especially after 9 July and the official declaration of Sudan and South Sudan as two separate independent countries?  

Agar: As a political party we do not need optimism. We are a registered movement in accordance with the laws and regulations of Sudan. We will work in the North towards improving the relations between the Sudan and South Sudan.

Q: Will the SPLM participate in the formation of the new government after 9 July?
Agar: Ongoing dialogue is taking place among all political parties, including the NCP about this matter. The participation in the new government is one of the issues which shall be discussed. However, there has not been any decision concerning the SPLM's participation as we have not yet brought this question to the table.   

Q: Will the SPLM work in the North with the same name?

Agar: Of course we will work with the same name. The only thing which will change is the flag of the SPLM in the North. Instead of one star, the flag of the Northern branch of the SPLM will show two stars. The political bureau of the SPLM agreed to carry over its flag to the future Republic of South Sudan, and a political party in one country cannot use the flag of another country.  

Q: As president of the Northern Branch of the SPLM, will you run the party from Khartoum or from Blue Nile State?

Popular Consultations, Blue NIle State.
Photo by: UN pictures
Agar: If I have to sit under a tree to manage the party I will do it! We are in the 21st century and the place of my residency would not matter much thanks to the highly developed communication means. I can manage the party from anywhere with no problem!

Q: Do you think that the Blue Nile State needs to benefit from positive discrimination because of all the problems it suffers from, such as the almost inexistent infrastructure?

Agar: Logic is one thing and the reality is another. I think we can all agree that Blue Nile suffers from poor infrastructure. I agree that positive discrimination mechanisms will be helpful for the development of the state.

Q: The Blue Nile popular consultation opinion polls show clearly that most citizens are opting for self-rule. What is your opinion on the matter?

Watch Boboya Simon Wudu's slideshow: "Blue Nile State popular consultations"

Agar: We do not want to skip to conclusions yet as we are still at the polling phase. There are many issues at hand, the system of governance being just one of them. If there is a sincere will to resolve the many problems Blue Nile State suffers from, such as the distribution of wealth, power and security arrangements, we need agreed upon standards. The political problems of Blue Nile State and Southern Kordofan need to be addressed in accordance with the CPA's six protocols relating to the two regions.

Q: The Middle East is currently witnessing a series of dramatic changes. How does the SPLM view these revolutions and will you participate in the demonstrations organised by the opposition parties?

Read more about the popular consultations by Khalid Saad and Mahir Abu-Joukh

Agar: The changes occurring in the Middle East differ from one country to another, and the repercussions of these changes will be different in Sudan. As political parties, we hold different views and we have not agreed on bringing the ruling system down. Freedom of expression in a democratic country means that each person has the right to express their views freely, be it for or against the regime. We might have our reservations, but we do not ban the opinions of others.

An Ingessana village in Roseires, Blue Nile - photo by Vit Hassan