As secession vote nears, UN meets on Sudan
By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer-
Updated Oct 8, 2010 - 11:27:54 AM
UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) - World leaders, including President Barack Obama, and high ranking officials held a meeting here on the fringe of then-ongoing UN General Assembly debate to deal with issues concerning the Sudan.
According to pre-meeting statements, the gathering was to show international support for the upcoming referenda on self-determination for oil-rich southern Sudan, which reportedly has 80 percent of the nation's oil reserves, and includes the oil-rich central region of Abyei.
It had been discussed in the corridors of the United Nations that Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit requested a closed meeting. However UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon felt the issues facing Sudan could not be addressed in isolation, so the meeting was open to the international press and other observers.
Sudanese citizens in the South, which is composed mainly of Christians and Animists, will vote on Jan. 9, 2011 on whether to secede from the country or remain united with the rest of their nation—and the mainly Muslim North, which has held the capital and seat of government. The referendum was stipulated under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006, which formally ended a 20-year civil war between the Northern government in Khartoum and the South's Sudan People's Liberation Movement Army (SPLM/A).
At the same time, residents of the central area of Abyei will vote separately on whether to retain the region's special administrative status with the North or become part of Bahr el-Ghazal state in the South.
International leaders like U.S. Secretary of State Hillary are saying a Southern vote for secession is “inevitable,” a view also held by neo-cons such as former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
“There is every indication the country is nearing a breakup, almost certainly into its northern and southern halves, and perhaps additional fragments,” Mr. Bolton wrote in his Sept. 29 op-ed piece in The Washington Times. Secretary Clinton is constantly referring to the situation in Sudan as a “ticking time bomb.”
Prof. Eric Reeves of Smith College at North Hampton, Mass, and a Sudan researcher and analyst, writes on his web site, sudanreeves.org, a warning that civil war is on Sudan's horizon. Mr. Reeves is actually a professor of English Language and Literature, who for the past 11 years has devoted time analyzing Sudan.
“There is still no agreement on sharing oil revenues from reserves lying in the South, since both the North and South are heavily dependent on oil revenues, failure to agree on the apportioning of oil wealth could easily become a cause for war,” he said.
“It is not clear to me that the U.S. has an interest in a new civil war in Sudan, because I don't think they can control the outcome,” said Bill Fletcher Jr., longtime labor, international activist and journalist. “However, that being said, I do believe that there are conservative non-governmental organizations, the Israelis and the Christian right who want to see the South secede; and don't have a problem with the Sudanese engaging in a civil war,” Mr. Fletcher told The Final Call. He is also a former head of TransAfrica Forum, a Black group that lobbies for Africa and the Caribbean.
Sudan's former ambassador to the UN Dr. Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Muhammad said in an interview with Al-Ra'y al-Amin Khartoum that the UN meeting was a link in the chain to weaken national ownership of Sudanese affairs and nothing good should be expected. “On the contrary the meeting would send a pre-emptive negative message for the results of the referendum,” he said.
The former diplomat added that the meeting also aimed to neutralize friends and disguise bad Western intentions with a regional cover by silencing the regional voices supporting Sudan.
African heads of state and the head of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping and top officials from Britain, Turkey and Egypt attended the three-hour discussion on Sept. 24. President Obama indicated that the New York meeting would send a strong message on organizing the referendum.
Observers say that President Obama is being subjected to pressure by the U.S. media and some anti-Sudan lobby groups to use a harsher tone with the Sudanese government.