Dennis Dlamini, Cissa’s executive secretary, took a firm hand of the briefing, spelling out the guiding principles behind Cissa, which had been somewhat glossed over by the conference chair, Brig Mohammed Al Hassan. Sanctity of human life, individual security and not regime security, and “shunning” genocide were all assumed to be the values of its members. Immediately, there was a barrage of questions from Arabic journalists, on whether Cissa was going to collaborate with the United States. Of course, most African governments already are, including Sudan, but Dlamini did not want to divulge any details. Neither was it clear how many members Cissa had. At the end claims were made that 46 African nations had joined, but many of them did not appear to be at the conference. Then again, maybe that’s why they’re called spooks.
Then we were herded after being scanned twice into a briefing room and then taken to attend the closing remarks of the new Cissa chairman, General Salah Abdallah Gosh, Sudan’s top security agent. Gosh looked like he hadn’t slept for years. He had a soft voice, and his one eyelid drooped, and overall there was only one description for his demeanour: Spooky.
Gosh was waylaid by some American journalists. Rather flustered for a spymaster, he returned to the podium and began to take questions. He responded most of the time in Arabic, with no attempt being made to translate. However, he did make the astounding statement that the Darfur crisis only existed in America, where it was an issue between the Democrats and Republicans.
Which raised the very serious question: Is Gosh the right person to run an organisation that is supposed to feed Africa’s early warning system for possible conflicts?