Sudan Secession Referendum

January 7, 2011

By Padmini Arhant

On January 9, 2011 the largest nation in Africa and the Arab world – Sudan will be split into two separate states upon validation in the Southern Sudanese independence referendum.

Sudan like other parts of Africa has been ravaged by decades of civil war.

The Second Sudanese Civil war resumed in 1983 to 2005 and then continued in western region – Darfur still engaged in skirmishes on the ground.

The current President Omar al-Bashir then seizing power in 1989 bloodless military coup set up a totalitarian government leading the nation towards genocide.

The civil wars resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis with –

2 million casualties and more than 4 million displaced population including an estimated 200,000 prisoners of wars and civilians taken into slavery not barring child soldiers by the pro-government Arab militias, the Sudanese army as well as the rebel factions involved in the north-south economic, ethnic, religious and political confrontation.

Captives from the Second Sudanese Civil War were reportedly enslaved at an alarming rate in the early nineties and thereafter.

Since independence in 1956 from the colonial powers Egypt and Great Britain,

The North African nation has been dealing with military coups at the central power and civil wars in the southern as well as eastern and western provinces against rebel forces,

Notwithstanding cross border conflicts with Chad and Eritrea on the west and southeastern fronts.

The Sudanese federal government in alliance with Arab militias is stated to have escalated the violence prompting rebel retaliation facilitated by prolific arms supply to the region at the devastation of several millions across the nation.

The interdependency between the oil rich south and the rest of Sudan with pipeline and ports services face critical challenges following Southern Sudan secession.

Northern Sudan along with eastern and western states will have to prepare for economic austerity once the oil revenue shared now declines with the southern segregation.

Hence there are genuine concerns over the rebels response to economic disparity affecting – Darfur on the west, the east and central Sudan not barring the provocation by the militias stationed in the north and south without being subject to either government’s authority.

Spark ignited from these groups could easily promote mutiny with serious consequences on the southern sovereignty besides increasing national vulnerability by influencing other disenchanted population to demand individual statehood.

Moreover the territories are yet to be clearly demarcated and ‘Abyei’ – the bridge between the northern and southern land apparently with depleting oil reserves,

Nonetheless ‘the Greater Nile Oil Pipeline’ that connects the oil fields in this area with Port Sudan on the Red Sea through the northern Sudan’s capital – Khartoum could become a contentious issue.

Oil exports are reported to have been crucial to Sudanese economic growth rising from 6.1% in 2003 to 9% in 2007. This achievement would not have been possible without functional pipelines serving the oil supply.

The reason for rebel forces to rise against the governing power is to restore political rights through fair representation in national governance, equal economic opportunity and most importantly social and religious freedom.

In the absence of any or all of these basic elements in a society the nation is susceptible to political and social unrest often evolving into ethnic cleansing as witnessed in human history.

The latest world events like Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, Sri Lanka in South East Asia and previously Bosnia, Herzegovina of the former Yugoslavia are stark reminders to leaderships to acknowledge and honor human rights of all regardless of demographic representation.

Whether it is colonial power treatment of the indigenous population or the ethnic minority marginalized by the majority rule, the human attitude towards fellow citizens is regrettable forming the basis for perpetual discord within a society.

However these developments do not occur by itself and external interventions are proved to be the sources in order to gain regional or territorial dominance.

If mankind has made tremendous progress in economic fields the reversal is also true in social tolerance evident in the unresolved disputes spanning over decades.

All that requires in the balancing act is empathy and the sharing concept to benefit all rather than the self-interest.

With Sudan – the aggressive authoritarian national leadership assumed excessive power and quelled political opposition.

The Presidential re-election was marred with corruption and forced expulsion of formidable pro-democracy candidacies offering meaningful reform alongside religious and cultural diversity. Accordingly, the election was declared undemocratic by the international community.

The incumbent government curtailed free speech by sentencing journalists and political activists, imposing national religious laws regardless of individual faith and last but not the least,

The leadership is indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court of Justice.

The southerners and the remaining Sudanese plight have long been ignored by the central power focused on iron-fist rule exemplified in policies implemented to the republic’s detriment.

In the secession vote the southerners are predicted to overwhelmingly approve the long anticipated liberty but like everything else there is a price for realizing the dream which might threaten their national security and sovereign status given the volatile conditions.

Southern Sudan is not any safer by being independent although the past six years autonomy might drive the inclination to self-governance.

Meanwhile provinces deprived of economic prosperity in the remaining country could attempt to follow suit and contribute to preventable warfare.

Sudan in semblance with African counterparts is rich in mineral resources and precious metals.

Similarly political instability is not uncommon and widely attributed to diverse groups disenfranchisement reflected in disproportionate or lack of national representation.

People in southern Sudan could experience better peace prospects through solidarity with the significant rest frustrated over the political dilemma and elect leadership dedicated to serving all rather than preferred segments in the society.

Southern Sudan decision to split from the mainland would set precedence for disintegration likely to jeopardize the fragile environment in all aspects.

Collective action towards political transformation and social justice has never failed in producing the desirable outcome.

The unified and non-violent approach by consolidating efforts among –

SPLM (Sudan’s People Liberation Movement) from the south,

JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) representing the Darfur, Red Sea and Equatoria regions,

Along with, Beja Congress and Rashaida Free Lions, two tribal based groups of the Beja and Rashaida people in the Eastern front,

To form a government with Northern National Congress Party comprising members and leaders pledged to secular democratic Sudan would prevail in establishing an efficient and powerful government.

People power would rightfully return with stronger coalition at the federal level that is guaranteed to bring stability, harmony and prosperity to the war torn nation.

It is sincerely hoped that Southern Sudanese will carefully examine the pros and cons in seeking secession from the magnificent nation Sudan with glory and fortune in abundance available to every human committed to unity.

Good Luck and Best Wishes to the people of Sudan for permanent peace and a bright future.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


One Response to “Sudan Secession Referendum”

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