By Abdullah Aydoğan Kalabalık / Southern Sudan-Juba, World Bulletin
Not even able to connect the countryís north with the south by means of a highway due to internal war, the Sudan government appears to have foregone the South after playing Darfur as a trump card with international actors. Southern Sudan will probably declare its independence as a result of a referendum to be made in 2011.
Silva Keer, President of the Southern Sudan administration and First Assistant to the President of Sudan Omar Bashir, and Sudan Peoples Salvation Movement leader, Bagan Amum, indicate that attitudes before the peopleís vote can influence the results.
Bagan Amum asked that everything be done by the Sudan government on the subject of the Southern Sudan people determining their future by means of the referendum. Warning that otherwise the subject can be taken to the local parliament, Amum did not neglect to make a veiled threat.
Sudan is concerned that if the central government does not recognize the necessary rights of the southerners, the Sudan Peopleís Salvation Movement, which partially has rule in their hands, will unilaterally declare independence.
It is a fact that separation is inescapable if union is not made attractive to the Southerners, because the South has been partially ruled separately from the North for years. It is almost impossible to go to the South from Khartoum by asphalt highway. There is no asphalt road connecting the countryís northern and southern regions. It takes at least 15 days to go from Southern Sudanís capitol, Juba, to Khartoum via dirt roads that are used by tribes and that are unsafe. The Southís most secure route is via the Nile River.
In respect to the geographical make-up, social fabric, language and religious beliefs, Southern Sudan is de facto separate from the North. With the agreement signed in January, 2005, it became partially politically separate. Both Sudan and international political authorities indicate that the probability of the region separating from Sudan in 2011 is rather high.
Educated in Western countries, southern administrators believe that separation is more advantageous for the common people. The higher cultural segment thinks that the Sudan government has distributed the regionís underground and above-ground riches to the whole country, but not to the South. If they become an independent state, they believe they will be able to sufficiently benefit from natural resources.
Urbanization, particularly in Khartoum, is far behind that of the modern world. In spite of this, it is widely accepted that the cultural level, income level and quality of life of the Northern Sudanese people are better in comparison to the South.
In Southern Sudanís capitol, Juba, which looks more like a classic African settlement than a city, there are almost no high-rise buildings. Built by a Lebanese businessman, even the most luxurious hotel of the city is only two stories high. For this reason, some experts foresee that the South, which is extremely lacking in characteristics of a state, will take a long time to become a state if it does separate.
The overwhelming majority of Sudanís prominent academicians, opposition leaders, and political authorities like Southern Sudan Administrator Silva Keer and opposition leader Hasan al Turabi say that the people of Southern Sudan will use their vote in the referendum to be held in the year 2011 for separation from the North.
It can easily be said that at this point there are not many political maneuvers or scenarios remaining in regard to Southern Sudan. After playing the Darfur trump card, the Sudan government had to choose between two roads. The first was by allowing for separation by legal and peaceful means like a referendum, to accept living with the Southerners in good neighborly relations and thus regain the South socially and economically. Secondly, it could completely break off relations with a region whose ties it could not even strengthen by building an asphalt highway.
Unable to get results militarily from an internal war lasting more than 20 years, the Sudan government, by closing its eyes to separation by peaceful means like the countryís southern public vote, is preparing to implement politically its principle, ďDo not forsake all of what is not fully yours.Ē
Making agreement with Darfurís largest resistance group, the Equality and Justice Movement, in Qatarís capitol, Doha, the Al Bashir administration appears to have foregone Southern Sudan for Darfur.