Sudanese minister urges calm on UAE visit
Last Updated: Jan 5, 2011
DUBAI // Sudan's minister of state for foreign affairs yesterday called for calm before a referendum begins on Sunday on separation between the north and southern Sudan, urging Abu Dhabi television audiences not to worry about the results.
"There is a lot of anxiety from our brothers in the Arab world about what is happening in Sudan," Kamal Hassan Ali told the Abu Dhabi Al Oula television audience. "We assure them that this is a choice the people of Sudan have all accepted, since it puts an end to this cursed war that went on for 60 years."
The historic referendum is one of the terms stipulated in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which sought to end the civil war between the north and south that claimed the lives of at least two million people.
It will determine whether the region splits from the predominantly Muslim north to become an independent state.
The deputy ambassador and consul general of the Sudanese Embassy in the UAE, Kamal Ali Osman, echoed Mr Ali's sentiments in an interview with The National, noting that the two regions would continue to work together, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.
"Even if the south separates form the north, the north and south will continue to work together, due to the many economic and social interests that we share.
"It is best to stay united, of course. However, we will support the decision of the people in South."
Meanwhile many southern Sudanese expatriates living in the UAE have already begun returning to their homeland to participate in the referendum.
Ayyak Fkyan, a security worker who has lived in Dubai for four years, said he would soon travel to Sudan to vote against a split between north and south.
"Why would I want the country to separate? I was living in Khartoum since 1992, I have many friends from the north," he said. "After the referendum, I do not know what the situation will be like, and if we will be able to travel there freely. If we become two separate countries, will the north accept us?"
Peter Daniel, a Dubai-based engineer, said he, too, hoped his country would remain united. "We can be a powerful nation together," said Mr Daniel, who has been in the UAE for five years.
Mr Osman said the two governments had agreed that even if the states did split, revenue generated by oil reserves in the country would be shared.
"Following initial talks between both governments, it has been decided that the oil will continue to be exported through the north," he said. "Eighty per cent of the revenue of the oil will go the south and 20 per cent will go to the north."
Habib Sarnoub El Daw is a UAE resident who served as a Cabinet minister in charge of mining and energy for the government in Khartoum from 1985-1989. "It's almost certain there will be a separation," he said, "because, unfortunately, this government has marginalised southerners and Nubians, which is why this is happening, although this is very unfortunate."
"As a Nubian, I would love for the country to remain united, because historically we were the original population. We consider this our country and we do not want to see it divided."
Mr Osman said disputed areas in the region of the proposed border - such as Nuba Mountains, Abyei and the Blue Nile region - were still under discussion. "But president Bashir has strongly stressed that he will do everything to protect all southerners who are now living in the north and want to continue living in the north, and vice-versa."