Today marks the 20th anniversary of the National Congress Party’s dictatorial leadership of Sudan. For two decades under the rule of President Omar al-Bashir, the regime’s coercive divide-and-rule tactics have enabled it to manipulate and repress – instead of effectively govern and support – Sudan’s people. The results of the NCP’s brutal policies have been deadly; a powerful op-ed in the Guardian today tallied the results:
In the past two decades, President Bashir has waged two civil wars, taking the lives of more than 2.6 million people, and displaced a further 6.5 million; he has funded murderous rebel armies in Chad and Uganda; and most recently he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes.
There is no shortage of evidence of the regime’s ability to sow chaos and manage multiple crises throughout Sudan’s expansive territory with the ultimate aim of maintaining its grip on power at all costs. The NCP has also repeatedly proven that its leaders can skillfully manipulate the international community with false promises, clever excuses, and halfhearted and ultimately inadequate solutions to Sudan’s enduring crises.
The bottom line is this: The NCP has a well-documented history of orchestrating campaigns of genocide and mass atrocities against its people. Under Bashir’s leadership, the NCP has proven time and again its ability to manipulate the international community’s efforts to negotiate peace in Sudan. The NCP relishes the "revolving door" nature of Western diplomacy, which has allowed the regime to utilize its tried and true tactics on optimistic diplomats who arrive in Khartoum hopeful about the regime’s intentions. But after 20 years in power, there is no evidence that the NCP’s behavior will change; indeed, its policies have been remarkably consistent over the past two decades.
In the wake of last week’s CPA conference in Washington and in the run-up to the pivotal decision by Permanent Court of Arbitration in coming weeks on the boundaries of the contested Abyei province, it is essential that no one forgets the fundamental characteristics of the NCP, and the horrific degrees of repression and manipulation of which it is capable.