Sudan: “Let Us Make It A Peaceful Divorce”
Today, the Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor spoke to an audience at the end of a two day seminar in Khartoum and said that the last hopes for unity were being extinguished. Sharia, he said, had destroyed the last chance for unity, and the CPA was not being implemented the way it was supposed to have been. Southern voters had already made up their minds, many of them twenty or thirty years ago, Deng explained and added, “the new generation brought up in the north is more hostile to the idea of unity” than those who had remained in the south, without having direct contact with the Arabs. “Let us make it a peaceful divorce,” he said, “let us part ways peacefully and remain as neighbours and friends.”
Along with First Vice President Salva Kiir’s statement at the weekend that a vote for unity was voting to be a second class citizen, Deng Alor’s speech represented the clearest declaration by the SPLM leadership that the CPA had failed in its aspiration to be Sudan’s last chance for unity. Both Deng Alor and Salva Kiir made nods in support of unity, but they seemed formalities, spoken without conviction. Deng said, “we still have some time to go and we have to be optimistic” and added that if people vote for unity it would not be under the current state of affairs.
The inescapable conclusion is that the main task remaining is to make secession into a legitimate, orderly and consensual process.
Responding to Deng Alor, Presidential Advisor Ghazi Salah el Din Attabani disputed his depiction of NCP bad faith and non-implementation of the CPA. “It is not in our interest to be paranoid, despondent, and calling for secession…. There is no need for the southern Sudanese to live in victimhood.” He continued, “we are waiting to see the New Sudan, in south Sudan,” and pointedly said that the people of southern Sudan need good governance. Ghazi said that it was he who signed the Machakos Protocol that recognized the south’s right to self-determination, saying that he would stand before history to justify his action. We have agreed to the referendum, he said, and we will honour the outcome, and continued: “we must have elections before the referendum, mark my words.” And he agreed with Deng Alor in saying, “if our conduct leads us to war, we have betrayed the basic premise of the CPA, which is peace.”
During the earlier sessions of the symposium, the same theme was repeatedly made: Sudan is entering its last days as a single nation. Among the northerners, there was immense regret, but also acceptance of the inevitability of the split. One well-known Islamist said that secession was coming and the important thing was to make it smooth. Others drew attention to the need to deal with post-referendum issues and especially the need to ensure that ordinary people were protected, and their relationships were not sundered by the division. When the south “goes”, it will still be in the same location and a neighbour to the north. Some participants appealed for the two Sudanese nations to accept the four freedoms of citizens””freedom of residence, work, citizenship and movement.
Much of the time, discussion of the CPA consisted of rehearsing the arguments for why the CPA had failed, with each party blaming the other. There was no common narrative for why the CPA was in trouble. The NCP argued that it had made sacrifices and met the SPLM halfway, and had found no reciprocity. The SPLM argued that there was no good faith from the NCP from the outset. Among many northerners there was a sense of shock even denial trying to rationalize and re-interpret what the southerners were saying instead of asking why they were saying it, and what its import might be.
Reflecting on the successes and failures of the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia, one participant said that in exceptional times, we need exceptional leadership, and that the ordinary citizens should not suffer adverse consequences of political decisions.
What is needed now is leadership to ensure that there is a roadmap towards a peaceable partition. This is not a decision that can be taken by default, by allowing the momentum of events to take their course. The statements by Deng Alor and Salva Kiir may have made secession inevitable, but they have not made it easy. A huge amount of work needs to be done. For the political leaders of south and north, secession entails a huge amount of hard work, organization and leadership.
I am told that you said in your presentation at the seminar that if there is a secession the southerners can not govern the south. Is this true?
this is not quite accurate. I said that if there were to be a violently contested separation, then there is a risk that both north and south would become ungovernable.
To those who argue that the southerners cannot govern the south, I reply: nobody else except the southerners can govern the south.
Is anybody believing that there will be a peaceful separation between the North and the South? And after the South (maybe) leaving, what will happen to the Northern Government? If this scenario (of separation) is a realistic one, there might be political turbulence in both the North and the South. Maybe a military coup in the North could give unity a chance? It seems as if we are heading for a meltdown situation, where the outcome is very unpredictable.
I am a regular reader on this blog.I learn a lot and appreciate how the analyst discuss the problems facing Sudan.
My first contribution to this resourceful website will be on the question of South Sudan secession which is currently generating a lot of debate among experts on Sudan. Like President Kiir and Mr Deng Alor Kuol put it. The question of South separation is a forgone case. People of South Sudan as far as I know have already made up their minds to have a divided Sudan. There are people who made up their minds maybe many years ago but the last chance for a united Sudan amongst Southerners died from 2007 to 2009. I thought the politicians like Kiir and Alor would continue to call for the theoretical “New Sudan” for diplomatic purpose but since the referendum is close and the elections are even closer, their honest declaration of their desire for a separate South Sudan is understood.
As Alex observed in the conference South Sudanese are extremely dissatisfied with the current state of affairs in Sudan.The NCP has killed all the prospects of a united Sudan in the following ways among many:
1. The oppressive Sharia laws in Khartoum constantly show South Sudanese that they don’t belong there.The flogging of Southern women by the police is an everyday even. It was surprising to see the whole world appalled when Lubni Hussein (The UN worker) exposed that evil oppression two months ago.
2. Southerners are detained without trial for drinking locally made traditional drink called Araqi. Women who were detained since 1992 for making Araqi were released recently.
The Southerners who were displaced to Khartoum during the war were thought to be the bridge between us who were in the South and the Northerners. They acted as a perfect simulation of how Southerners in general under NCP would be treated.
However,they are treated as outcast by the government. They have been confined in the dirty areas outside Khartoum for the last twenty years. Those areas are locally called “Black Belts” because most of the inhabitants are from South and Darfur. (For your information few Southerners if any will leave behind a permanent property in Khartoum when the South secedes in 2011).
While the NCP government is building suspension bridges, mega Dam and subsidising electricity for Khartoumers, they never get government aids. As if that was not enough NCP undercounted these Southerners in the recent census by the ratio of 4:1. (NGOs put their number to be over 2 million but the government put their census number to be 500,000). It seems NCP did not want them to make significant constituencies in the forthcoming election.When asked why there was such different in numbers, Awad Haj, the head of Census claimed that Southerners were refusing to be counted.
3. The Southerners who live in the South have not recovered yet from the shock caused by air bombardment, leave alone to trust NCP in its current form to rule them. Moreover, LRA and other NCP proxies continue to kill people in the South.
4. The biggest threat to a united Sudan is the Islamization and Arabization of the country. Southerners have told their Northern counterparts since independent that they do not want Islam and Arabism to be imposed on them. They want a secular Sudan, not Islamic, not Christian. They want a Sudan where they dress like they want and drink whatever they want. They want a Sudan where Arabic and English are both official languages.
But the National Congress Party feel that not having a fundamentally Islamic Sudan is a red line to them. That is why they opposed the Koka Dam declaration of 1989 which would have lead to a constitutional conference. That declaration did not have Southern secession in it. What they opposed was a possible change of Sharia law in the constitution.T he NIF rejected the Abuja initiative in 1993 because Garang asked for a secular one Sudan, not secession for the South. In addition to that, the NCP almost destroyed the CPA in 2004 in Naivasha when the SPLM insisted on making Khartoum a secular capital for both Muslims and non-Muslim Sudanese.
Bashir always bragged that he and the NCP have made a promise to the mujahidiins who died in the war that they will never abandon the Islamic status of the Sudan. To South Sudanese ,imposing Islam and Arabism on us is also a red line. That is why we have not surrendered to imposition of such kind for the last 40 years of the 53 years under various repressive regimes in Sudan. It therefore seems to be true that NCP would find it easy to see a disintegrated Sudan than to accommodate the aspiration of all Sudanese.
The question of unity or separation is not a debate issue amongst Southerners. Rather,it is the only matter were everyone can agree on. It is impossible to have a united Sudan under NCP.
People who have not been in the shoes of South Sudanese wonder why the entire region want to see the biggest country in Africa disintegrated. They wonder whether South Sudan will handle the challenge that separation will bring, whether we believe that the NCP will actually grant South independence. My answers to those questions are:
1. No challenge brought to South Sudan by separation will exceed the destructive wars we have been subjected to for the last 40 years. Voting for united Sudan under NCP is like voting for an other war because the attitude that brought the previous wars from our Northern rulers is still existing among the NCP cadres. If the Southerners vote for unity under the current circumstance, it will take at most five years before an other destructive war start in the South.
2. If the NCP refuse to accept the referendum results or decide to obstruct the referendum exercise, then Southerners will choose either to surrender to oppression, which they have not done in 40 years of war, or continue to fight till they get freedom and equality.
We would have loved to have a united Sudan,we would have loved Sudan to maintain its current size. However,our Northern rulers do not want us to have the Sudan we will be happy in. For now South Sudanese do not have much choice. They either choose the status quo that cost them 2 miillion of lives in wars or they choose separation.
The old has died and the new is struggling to be born. The subjective conditions for statehood exist in South Sudan but under present circumstances we can only be fearful about the nature of any new state that emerges, as well as the nature of the remnant state in North Sudan that survives. My fear is that both mother and child may not survive the rigours of childbirth.
Have you read the statement of Mr.Paul Mayom Akech,Minister of Information of the GOSS,and Spokesman of the GOSS ?
Are there people who say that Southerners should not govern the South?
Who are those people?Are they Sudanese themselves or experts on Sudan?And what reasons do they give to justify that Southerners should not govern the South?
Abd al Wahab: I think we may be thinking along the same lines. I will post something on this issue shortly.
David: it is interesting to read the various clarifications that followed FVP Salva Kiir’s statement at the weekend, to the effect that the SPLM is still committed to unity. Frankly I am not convinced. I have not asked Salva Kiir what he meant but I have listened to Deng Alor and spoken with him about it. He spoke from the heart when he talked about the inevitability and necessity of secession. He spoke in a half hearted and pro forma way when he said that the option for unity was still open if the CPA were satisfactorily implemented.
Yong: I think you know just who I am talking about! But I doubt that any will come out and state it publicly on this blog.
It’s interesting to note that Salva gave the Southerners instructions about how to vote in the referendum, thus completely bypassing the elections. Elections were included in the CPA because the mediators wanted them, not because the two parties asked them to be included. Both the NCP and the SPLM have repeatedly expressed discomfort when talking about elections. Now, the SPLM simply chooses to ignore them, why the NCP stresses – in Ghazi’s words – the importance of holding them. What does this means? I don’t believe that the outcome of elections could in any case render unity more attractive than now. I don’t even believe that the NCP hopes to gain such a large majority in the parliament so as to try to re-negotiate the CPA. I think the NCP has reviewed its stance towards the elections because it hopes: to give a new legitimacy to Omar al-Bashir; to strenghten its grip on the state in Northern Sudan; to show that Southerners are not ready for the referendum; to show the world that it has the good will to democratize and open the regime, that unity could be given another chance, and in this way the burden of secession will fall entirely on the SPLM/A’s shoulders. Remember that the unity of Sudan is still attractive for many people outside the country, for example in Cairo, and the NCP could use this card to put pressure on the SPLM/A.
Ghazi is sarcastic when he points out that the “New Sudan” still has to be seen in Southern Sudan, but unfortunately, this is the dramatic reality: after the referendum Southern Sudan will be born as a one-party, militarized State, with a predominance of some southern population among the political Ã©lite over other minoritarian populations, and with corruption rampant at every level of public administration.
It’s maybe even banal to say so, it’s just a statement of fact. As I’ve written elsewhere, Southern Sudan runs the risk not only of becoming Africa’s next state, but Africa’s next failed State.
Late, late yestreen, I saw the new moon
With the old moon in her arm,
And I fear, I fear my Master Dear,
That we shall come to harm
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence
Thank you very much.
Was Salva Kiir in the wrong when he said that voting for unity will render southern Sudanese â€œsecond class citizensâ€ in their own country?
I think yes. I believe that voting for unity will render southern Sudanese third class citizens in their own country, for the truly second class citizens are the northerners who are not pro-NCP.
I am a northerner and I strongly support southernersâ€™ quest for separation. They have suffered unimaginably under the rule of successive governments in the north. Mainly in the hands of the 1989â€™s clique of Islamists who branded the civil war in the south â€œa holy oneâ€.
Deluded is he who thinks that southerners in Khartoum will forget the Sahat al-Fida TV show, the billboards of â€œmartyrsâ€ all over Khartoum and the racial discrimination they are subjected to in daily basis in Khartoum.
It is time that we face the truth, northern and southern Sudan have never been and will never be one country. We have always been two countries, if not politically then morally. We lie to ourselves when we say that unity is possible. To me, the CPA has failed because neither the SPLM nor the NCP wanted to implement it in good faith.
I agree with Deng Alor, letâ€™s make it a peaceful divorce, and then itâ€™s up to us, northerners, to find a way to get rid of the NCP.