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Articles and Analysies Last Updated: Dec 20, 2009 - 3:34:53 PM

Unilateral independence of South Sudan before 2011 is unwise By Zechariah Manyok Biar

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Unilateral independence of South Sudan before 2011 is unwise

By Zechariah Manyok Biar



According to the article of Mr. Nhial Bol, Editor in Chief of The Citizen, entitled, “Now SPLM is speaking the right language,” Dr. Samson Kwaje said that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) for South Sudan is only possible if the NCP pushes the South. The statement is clear. South Sudan can declare UDI only if pushed into it by NCP. Mr. Bol takes the issue further and urges Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) to declare independence of South Sudan on Heroes and Martyrs Day this month, July 30, 2009 , the day we lost Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army founder Dr John Garang in 2005. Mr. Bol is even bold enough to say that the idea of waiting for elections in 2010 and referendum in 2011 is a waste of time and a waste of resources. Is there a truth in this statement?

I would have said that South Sudan is in real trouble if the statement of Mr. Bol were the statement of Dr. Kwaje. It is good that Dr. Kwaje knows what he is talking about. He is saying that UDI would be possible if the NCP pushes the South. Mr. Bol does not see the disadvantages of hasty declaration of independent for South Sudan before 2011. The points that Mr. Bol make to justify hasty declaration of independence for South Sudan are exactly the negative points that makes the UDI a very bad idea if politicians were buying into Mr. Bol’s idea. Mr. Bol’s points are that waiting for elections in 2010 and referendum in 2011 is a “waste of time” and a “waste of resources.”

Let us be clear that a Unilateral Declaration of Independence would not be supported by international community because it would be a violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Khartoum would take that declaration as a move for a declaration of war and the international community will never recognize South Sudan as a country. Countries like Egypt who oppose the independent of South Sudan will have a golden chance to lobby against South Sudan .

South Sudan would then take over oil fields by force or lose them to the control of Sudan government. Even if South Sudan managed to take over the control of oil fields by force, it will need to shut down the current pipeline that goes to Port Sudan and build another pipeline to keep oil business flows for South Sudan to have some money for operation. You know that South Sudan relies on oil’s money now for its operation.

Countries who may sign the contract with South Sudan to take over the production of oil will be very few because they would fear losing their money without any benefit because they will work under war situation. Their facilities could be destroyed by Sudanese bombers. Therefore, the UDI could become the waste of resources, resulting in total bankruptcy for South Sudan .

South Sudan might go back to voluntary system of government, as it was during the war between the North and the South, where nobody gets any penny for serving the nation. This will automatically send many people back to neighboring countries where they can take care of their families. Those who will choose to fight without getting any salary will be few. This is going to delay success against the government of Khartoum . This is the real waste of time. Development will immediately stop until the war is won or lost.

So I wonder what good South Sudan can get from the rushed declaration of independent as Mr. Bol calls for! The war that would result in such a declaration would be a war of choice, not the war of necessity. The war of choice always has few supporters.

I don’t think President Kiir can buy into the idea of UDI as the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. A wise Commander-in-Chief is the one who carefully weighs the pros and cons of the war before opting for war. War is always costly in both human life and resources. War must always be the last resort.

I don’t see the reason why we should not wait for 2011 that is only two years away. If Khartoum violates CPA and forces South Sudan back to war, then it will be on the wrong side and Juba will be on the right side of international law. In such a situation, the international community will support the UDI for South Sudan . But this support will happen after 2011, let us be clear about that. A fear about Northern Sudan ’s intentions against the implementation of CPA will not justify the UDI, whatsoever the case South Sudan will make before the guarantors of CPA. UDI will only be justified by Khartoum ’s refusal to grant Southerners their independence after they voted for it in 2011.

North Sudan will drag its feet to implement CPA, it is clear. But that is one of the points that South Sudan will make for session in 2011. Voting for session is a legal issue that no country will legally oppose in 2011. Those who do not want South Sudan to vote for separation now have the chance to convince Southerners that unity of Sudan is attractive. If they do not succeed in convincing Southerners about the attractiveness of unity, then they will have no right to oppose the session of South Sudan in 2011. This is how legal issues work.

Therefore, UDI for South Sudan before 2011 is not a wise idea at all. It would lead to failure of South Sudan and it would be very costly in both human life and resources. Let us keep away from UDI if we are really aiming at the independence of South Sudan .

Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University , Texas , USA . He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He is also a regular contributor to The New Sudan Vision website. He is reachable at [email protected]

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