Unity or Separation; Debating the Referendum BY:
Deng Paul, CANADA
are almost reaching the end of the tunnel and the CPA era is coming to an end.
Itís therefore imperative that we reflect on the past and present events in the
country before we decide the future.
is apparent that most southern Sudanese have made up their minds and know
exactly what they will do come January 2011. And the general consensus or view
is that, most South Sudanese would opt for an independent country.
that will not be in unison. There are lingering voices and views by a few
individuals that a United Sudan would be more advantageous to Southerners than
a separated South. Well this is the high time to address these issues. Itís
only about 12 months before people head to the polling stations should what
have been agreed upon prevails. Therefore, we have no time to waste and have to
debate on the referendum as South Sudanese.
destiny is in our hands and we have to make one of the most important decisions
we have ever made in our life. In my opinion, 2011 is another Juba
conference of 1947.
What happened in
1947 is now a thing of the past and we have another 1947 coming up, where we
are in a better position to make the best decision for our future. This is it.
There is no any other better time to decide on our destiny than 2011.
letís talk about Unity and Separation. This is not a question of ďitís my vote,
I can vote however I likeĒ. Of course you can, but we have to be careful with
it because what we do on that very day will affect millions of lives including
the unborn and the absentees. We do not want the next generation to be
remembering 2011 as the year where their lives were ruined by the current
generation like we do with the 1947.
the chiefs and other Southern Sudanese who were present in the 1947 conference
did not agree, not even a slightest bid to keep the country United. I did read
the document that is said to be the agreement during Juba
conference. The one amazing thing that I found out was that, southerners did
not agree to keep the country united.
Identity of the country: Is Sudan an Islamic country? Thatís a very interesting
question. For a long time, Sudan has always struggled with its identity. If you are a
northern Sudanese, you would say yes, though some people would say no. On the
other hand, a Southern Sudanese would unequivocally say that Sudan is not an Islamic State (maybe some members of Muslim
community in the south would). So, where is the line? On whose view should we
believe the country is?
if you are not aware, then I have news for you. In the world arena, Sudan is known as an Islamic country with strong ties to
the Arab world. This is not a surprise to anybody because the rulers
(dictators) of Sudan have always come from the North with a clear agenda that Sudan is an Islamic country and sells its image as they
wish. Sudan joined the Organization of Islamic conference (OIC)
in 1969. Therefore, it is virtually considered as an Islamic State. One of the
main aims of the OIC is; to preserve Islamic social and economic values among
a southern Sudanese, what is your take on this? If you are hoping to preserve
the Unity of the country by voting for Unity in 2011, then bear in mind that
you are automatically agreeing to be part and parcel of the Islamic state. It
would be difficult to change that status. It is estimated that Muslims are
about 70% of the country especially in the north, which is debatable. There are
no concrete evidences to believe that statistics.
letís take an estimate that lies close to the truth. Letís say that about 60%
of the country is Muslims. If the referendum were done to decide the status of
the country whether to remain as member of OIC or withdraw it; the south would lose
on that. A minority canít win against the majority when votes count.
a vote for Unity is a vote for confirmation of the country as an Islamic state.
It is this or that, no in between. A confused identity is painful.
Sudan and League of Arab States (LAS): Another identity
crisis is whether Sudan is an ArabState or not? Currently, Sudan is a member of Arab league or League of Arab States.
Thus it is known as an ArabState though most countries in Africa
donít recognize it as an Arab state. Sudan joined this organization in January 1956, just a few
days after independence.
majority of the Country are not Arabs, many donít object to the idea. If you
take away the East, far North, most of Darfur,
South Kordufan, Blue
Nile and South Sudan, those who would claim that they are Arabs will be less than 20% of
the total population. Yet one would wonder why such a small section of the
society would hijack the identity of the country. The answers are not far from
one, this status was imposed by the small powerful rulers of Sudan who claim to be Arabs and have ruled the country
under the illusion of Arabism. Second, Arab culture and Islam are inseparable.
This explains why most people in the north do not object to this idea even
though they know that they arenít Arabs. Northern politicians know the truth
and thatís why they omitted the question about ethnicities from the census
forms. They knew that this would expose their lies and would have proved that
Arabs in Sudan are less than 20%.
would be ridiculous for a South Sudanese to walk into the same old cage and
hope for the better. Thatís what my primary teacher would call a zero work.
Voting for unity is a zero work. The Red Army says in their song (red army is a
symbol for young south Sudanese, though the name has its original owners) that
the problem between the North and the South should end with Anya Nya I and II.
Law, Religion and the State: Sharia law is arguably one of the most contentious
issues in Sudan. I have had discussion with both friends from the
South and some people from the northern part of the country. But what I found
out was strange. I am not sure whether this is me alone or other people do feel
the same way. To me, religion played a major role in all the civil wars that we
fought in Sudan.
there are people who confidently argue that the main problem was economic and
political disparity. And their justification is what is currently happening in Darfur.
Well, I do agree with them on those issues. But it would be too naÔve to ignore
the role that religion play in this country. What was the main trigger in the
1983? Wasnít it the dishonoring of the Addis Ababa agreement and imposition of Sharia law in the whole
the civil war between the north and the south, people were mobilized along
religious lines. The Khartoum government played a religious card by mobilizing
Muslims in the north to fight what they called infidels in south and free the
country from non-believers.
sources of funds for war were from Islamic countries. They even invited Islamic
fundamentalists including Bin Laden to Sudan to help them fight against the infidels in the south
who were hindering the spread of Islam and their sharia law southward. So,
religion was the main tool used by Khartoum to fight against the south.
Sharia law is in its full swing in the north and also in what is so-called the
government of national Unity. It was agreed in Naivasha that sharia Law would
apply in the north but only to Muslims (just during the CPA era, nothing was
said about it after 2011). Unfortunately, sharia is being publicly imposed on
southern Sudanese who live in areas around Khartoum including Khartoum itself.
the United Sudan after 2011, how will issues like sharia law be addressed?
Should we just wait until we vote for Unity to decide on the fate of Sharia
law? The south wonít accept the Sharia law.
above are some of the reasons as to why I believe that Unity will most likely
disadvantage the south. I know people who advocate for independence of the
south are referred to as box thinking individuals. That is, people who are
blinded by hatred and donít think outside the box.
only thing I can tell them is that, weíve been thinking outside the box for the
last 55 years. Therefore, we are tired of it and want to try a new one. Why
canít we try something we have never done before? It could work for us. You
never know unless you try.
inside the box of south Sudan is not a bad idea. Is it? We need a break. When you
know that you have ideologies or principles that can never be harmonized or
compromised, you have to give it a break.
would also like to address some of the issues that the southern Sudanese people
who would like to vote for unity put forward as their reasons. First, I would
like to apologize to all my friends who talked to me about these issues. They
may feel bad and that I am writing about them. I am not writing about anybody
but about issues that will affect our next generations should we make the wrong
choice. This is not just about us but also the unborn generations.
I feel obliged to discuss what I think is right and this is the only way we can
involve many in the discussion. Apart from their various reasons they give, I
will only talk about two of them.
Some people think that there is too much corruption in the south and voting for
unity will somehow help stop it. It is true that there is corruption in the
south and we are very sad about it. However, I donít think that a united Sudan will have all the solutions to it. Somebody might
want to explain it explicitly so that people would have a clear understanding
on how it will be solved when the south votes for Unity.
understanding is contrary to what they think. In my opinion, corruption could
be worse than what it is right now. A united Sudan means a centralized government. In a country like Sudan where there are no transparency systems, centralism
is not the best form of government.
centralized government empowers a few and allows the exploitation of the
general public by those in power.
Sudan is a country whereby the security apparatus are being
used by one political party to strengthen its political muscles. So, do not
think that there is no corruption in the north. It could be a lot worse than we
think but nobody is talking about it. If you talk, then your head could be cut
off like what they say. The NCP and its security apparatus have no secret and
have told the general public that if you donít conform to their principles,
then expect your head or finger to be cut off.
are only a few people in the north that can risk their life and expose the
dirty practices of the Khartoum government. But majority is not brave enough to
confront the government of liars and dictators because they fear their life.
They support the government not because the government is doing a great job but
because they are assured of sharia law and religious dominancy.
the only reason as to why you donít hear people talking about corruption in the
So, I donít see how the United
Sudan will help curbing corruption in the South. We known corruption is a
pandemic disease in the south. Neither voting for unity nor deserting the south
for Khartoum and shout at the top of your voice would help solve
in the south: Insecurity has been burning like a wild fire in the south for
quite sometimes now. It is very unfortunate that the government of South Sudan is not trying its hardest to solve the problem. They always use the
wrong methods instead of designing the right one. This has led to Khartoum government exploiting the situation and preaching to
world that insecurity in the south is the failure of the people of South Sudan to government themselves and that there were no things like those when
the country was one.
only thing I donít understand is whether the Khartoum government is telling the international community
that the south cannot govern itself and that they have to be supported in their
oppression against the people of the south or they want other people to be put
as their governors. That mentality alone can force me to vote for separation.
But they are very fortunate that there are people picking up on it and wanting
to vote for unity just because of this insecurity.
only thing they donít know is that, Khartoum will never ever help the south in any problem. If
there is anything that wipes away the south be it corruption, tribal conflicts
or other things, they will do their best to help it happen.
donít look to the North. I am not pessimistic about it. I have a feeling that a
solution will be eventually found but not from the United Sudan.
A tension among southerners is a Khartoum victory. This is the only way they can cling to
how on earth, would somebody rectify something that is advantageous to them?
Let us not simplify the main problem to insecurity. Insecurity problem can be
solved but the main issues that led to civil wars are not yet solved and they
should be the ones used as a barometer to vote for either a united Sudan or independent south.
we need to let the world know why independence of the south is the best choice
for Southerners. So, letís keep writing and let our reasons be known. It would
be a good idea too for those southerners who want Unity to tell us why they
think a united Sudan is their best choice