Sudan’s Nuba peoples rally for greater freedom


KAUDA – Thousands of Sudanese demonstrated in the Nuba mountains on Saturday, demanding free and fair elections as a prelude to greater autonomy within the north, as a southern independence vote wrapped up.
In Kauda, a remote mountain town that is a stronghold of southern former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement even though it lies in the northern state of South Kordofan, large crowds gathered chanting anti-government slogans and waving SPLM flags. “Down, down, old Sudan, welcome, welcome new Sudan,” a cheerleader shouted through a loudspeaker from the back of a truckload of demonstrators, with the crowd repeating the slogan in unison.
“We are protesting that the election is not going on as planned,” said one of the demonstrators, Sadiq Said, 40. “The government wants to use the old list of voters. But the list does not include all the population here. Many people can’t find their names on the list.
“I want the Nuba mountains to be free. This is my hope,” he said. Demonstrators said protests were also being held in Deleng and Kadugli, the state capital of South Kordofan.
South Kordofan and Blue Nile, both in the north but with large non-Arab communities, were accorded special status under the 2005 peace deal that ended a devastating 22-year civil war between north and south.
Under the agreement, state elections are due to take place in South Kordofan in April as part of a “popular consultation” process that many people in Kauda hope will bring them independence and put an end to Arab hegemony. “As President (Omar) al-Bashir said, they want to use (Islamic) sharia law to be the main legislation in the country… and to make the Arabic language the main language,” said Yasser, 28, a Christian, speaking in Kauda earlier in the day.