Speech Delivered By Dr. Mrs Basirat Nahibi Founder/President, Women Advancement For Economic And Leadership Empowerment In Africa (WAELE/ARCELFA) On 21st Of October 2008, In Khartoum, Sudan On Darfur Crisis And Alleged Indictment Of President Omer Al-Bashir By The International Criminal Court (ICC)
Women Advancement for Economic and Leadership Empowerment in Africa (WAELE/ARCELFA) is a Continental organization for African women with chapters in 46 countries, and full representation in all the 36 states of Nigeria and Federal Capital Territory.
As an organization WAELE/ARCELFA has conducted a number of sensitization conferences and seminars to enhance the gender sensitivity of various Governments in Africa and to empower women to assert their God given rights, to aspire to positions of Leadership in Government, Private Sector and Civil Society.
During the WAELE/ARCELFA 2nd Continental Conference with the theme “ AFRICAN WOMEN IN A CONTEMPORARY WORLD:- ISSUES ON POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT” held at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja from 11th-13th of July 2005 with representatives from 18 African countries including Hon. Mrs. Gertrude Mongella, the current President of Pan African Parliament led the Tanzanian delegation and delivered the keynote address. WAELE/ARCELFA 1st Continental Conference was held earlier, in Bamako, Mali, in March 2004, 14 African countries participated.
OUR ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENTS
- WAELE/ARCELFA has been able to empower more than 10,000 women in Nigeria with economic empowerment equipment to boost their productions. Indeed, those that are into Cassava processing could only produce two bags of Cassava manually with hard labour in a week, but after giving them the equipment, they can now produce twenty (20) bags daily. Similarly, the women that are into Palm oil processing could only produce 20 litres in a week. It is my pleasure to bring to your Excellency’s knowledge, that with the assistance of WAELE/ARCELFA, they can now produce 400 litres in a day.
- WAELE/ARCELFA gave 2 complete sets of Cassava processing machines to Tanzanian women. The organization will be going to Dar-Es-Salaam to teach them how to use the equipment to process their farm produce very soon.
- WAELE/ARCELFA will be giving the women of Zimbabwe soft loans and 2 complete sets of Cassava processing machines to assist them in processing their farm products. The organization will also teach them how to use and maintain the equipment.
- WAELE/ARCELFA will be giving 200 women in Mali soft loans to enable them start small businesses.
OUR HUMANITARIAN SERVICES
WAELE/ARCELFA presented to the women of Plateau State of Nigeria during the Ethnic religious crises between the Christians and Muslims of the State with the under listed items :- 200 Blankets , 200 Mats , 200 Buckets, 200 Bowls, 200 Salt Bags,100 Bags of Rice and 10 Cartons of Canoe Soap
WAELE/ARCELFA presented the under listed items to Chadian refugees during the recent rebel disturbances:-
200 Bags of rice, 200 Bags of maize, 200 Bags of millet, 500 Cartons of Spaghetti, 200 Bags of salt, 200 Bags of detergent , 5000 Plastic cups, 5000 Slippers , 5000 Buckets, 2000 Mats, 2000 Blankets & 200 Bags of milk.
OUR REASONS FOR COMING TO SUDAN
One of our reasons for coming here is to show solidarity with our Sudanese Sisters, because every time, everywhere crises or war erupts, women and children are mostly the biggest casualties and victims.
Our concerns are over the crisis in the Darfur Region of Sudan. As women, we are worried at the huge loss of lives and casualties amongst women and children; we are also worried at the hunger and poverty that has befallen the people of that Region as a result of the conflict.
The people of Darfur have been living in peace and harmony among themselves for centuries. We understand that it was actually difficult to distinguish between Arab and Non-Arab citizens of that Region in the past, because of intermarriages among different tribes. So, what is the cause of this crisis? We therefore believe that the crisis is externally induced to destabilize Sudan.
Research shows that the crisis started in 2003 when two armed groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and (SLA) launched attacks on policemen, Government garrisons and Civilians within the Region. These attacks are known to have degenerated from inter tribal and intra tribal conflicts between nomadic communities and their neighbors’ who are farmers over grazing land. The effects of droughts over the years further worsened these relationships. Government organs that attempted to intervene and settle the crisis ended up being branded as partisan and therefore became targets for attacks.
Research also shows that 13 major armed tribal conflicts happened in Darfur from independence till 1989. Six of these conflicts were fought between Arab nomadic communities; four of the conflicts were between tribal partners who were both Non-Arabs.
All of these were serious armed conflicts, sometimes involving thousands of tribesmen. Most of the conflicts were over disputed territories, grazing land and livestock theft. The United Nation Media Service analyzed the situation as “the conflict of farming communities against nomadic who have aligned themselves with the militia groups for whom the raids are a way of life, in stiff competition for land and resources”.
In between, some tribal warlords and clan heads seized the crisis opportunity to accuse the Central Government of marginalization and thereafter created a platform and reason for rebellion as well as insurgency against the Central Government.
Over the years, the Government of Sudan has treated the rebellion with human dignity and has even participated in attempts by the African Union and the United Nations to tackle the problem through peaceful negotiations. In 2003, through the meditation of Chad, the Government of Sudan and the rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in Abache. Furthermore, on the 8th of April 2004, the Government and rebels (SLA & JEM) signed a humanitarian ceasefire agreement in Darfur.
The African Union has been in the fore front of trying to restore peace to the Region and to actualize the ceasefire agreements through which an African Union peacekeeping force of 500 soldiers was put in place in 2004. To show further commitment of the AU position, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who was the AU chairman at that time stated in January 2005 that “I want to give you one assurance on behalf of Nigeria and the AU; we will not rest until there is peace and perfect peace in Darfur and in the whole of Sudan”. Indeed through the Obasanjo led AU, Abuja hosted inter-Sudanese peace talks over seven rounds of negotiations, after which the GOS, the SLA led by Mini Minawi, signed an historic peace deal as well as the Darfur Peace Agreement on Friday 5th May, 2006.
However, over the coming months, the International community through the UN felt the AU did not have enough resources, men and material; to do proper peace-keeping in the region. The United Nations then took over the peace keeping mission.
WAELE/ARCELFA realized that the lengthy process of peace negotiation and humanitarian support for the victims who are mostly women and children is of paramount importance because, no Country develops without peace. Therefore, for peace to rain in Darfur and Sudan in general, we call on United Nations to immediately call International Criminal Court (ICC) to order.
Recognizing the recent successes achieved in the conflicts resolution of post- election crisis in Kenya and in Zimbabwe, it has become instructive to know and to acknowledge that African Leaders have the capacity and capability to resolve any Internal as well as National crisis within the African Continent.
This has been aptly demonstrated by former Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan who championed the peaceful resolution of the post election crises in Kenya. And of recent, former President of South Africa Mr. Thabo Mbeki also played an important role in bringing both President Robert Mugabe and the new Prime Minister Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe to sign an agreement to work together for the benefit of their Country.
If the various tribal groups and militias, who are being funded by external forces, are attacking each other, why would anybody including the ICC accuse President Omer Al-Bashir of genocide? Based on the scenarios painted, it is difficult for the Sudanese Army to patrol or regulate the activities of these tribal groups and warlords. If there are problems in Darfur Region, ICC CAN NOT hold President Omer Al-Bashir responsible. Because we all know those supplying the rebels with ammunitions. The Ship load of ammunitions which was hijacked by Somalia pirates was obviously meant for the Sudanese Rebels. “OCTOBER TIME MAGAZINE PAGE 10”
How can anybody accuse President Omer Al-Bashir of Genocide? Africans are no fools, some Countries refused to sign the treaty that established ICC, and refused to subject any of their citizen to the jurisdiction of ICC. Sudan however, is not a signatory to ICC and has not ratified the treaty, it is wrong for some of these Countries to push for indictment of a sitting African head of state by ICC. This is nothing but double standard.
We the Executive Members of WAELE/ARCELFA are calling on ICC to immediately and unconditionally reverse their position on arresting President Omer Al-Bashir for genocide. Not doing so will only cause more problems in Darfur Region and Sudan, because President Omer Al-Bashir is the only person that can solve the problem in Darfur for now, therefore arresting him will only jeopardize the peace agreement.
WAELE/ARCELFA aligns itself with the position of African Leaders, particularly the current Chairman of African Union, President Jikaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, who has stressed that attempts to indict or arrest President Omer Al-Bashir by ICC, will be a threat to the pursuit of lasting peace in Darfur Region.
As mothers, we sympathize with the thousands of homeless and displaced victims of the Region. In this regard, we call on all parties in the conflict to sheath their swords and give peace a chance by adhering to the terms of the numerous peace agreements signed by all of them. We call upon African Leaders not to give up on Darfur but to continue supporting the peace deals with resources, prayers and advice.
Thank you and God bless.
Long live the good People of Sudan
Long live WAELE/ARCELFA
Long live Africa.