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Khartoum Should be a Secular Capital of All Cultures

3/27/2006 5:54 pm

Press Release
South Sudan Democratic Forum
March, 27, 2006

The South Sudan Democratic Forum Party, one of the parties that formed the Government of National Unity (GoNU), calls for a secular Khartoum where the non-Muslims would be able to practice their cultures without harassment from Sharia policemen.

The Constitution of the Sudan indisputably states that Sudan is a diverse country with dissimilar religions and cultures. The capital city of a multi-ethnic state like Sudan must be a gathering point where different religions co-exist. No culture or religion should have a monopoly over Khartoum. All cultures should enjoy equal rights in the capital.

Although the law of the land states that the Government of National Unity must be anchored on diversity, democracy and respect for human rights, the National Congress Party wants Khartoum to be like Tehran, where non-Muslims do not enjoy their cultures and religions without state’s disapproval. If the NCP is not capable of swallowing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that culminated into the new Constitution of the Sudan, it is better to notify the whole World.

It is the position of the Democratic Forum that non-Muslims should not only exercise their beliefs but also practice them in the capital without fear of suppression. South Sudan businessmen who want to open beer stores should be allowed to do so. There is no article in the Constitution which prohibits anyone to open a liquor store. Sudan under CPA is required to have a secular capital whereby the people of the South who drink liquor should be served by the liquor industry. Khartoum under Sadiq El Mahdi allowed Southerners and Northerners to have free access to alcohol. It was the NIF’s coup which interrupted democratization.

The National Congress Party has two choices to make during the transition period before the referendum. Either it forgets Sharia in Khartoum or it allows the South to declare Unilateral Independence. The people of South Sudan cannot live for six years in Khartoum under Sharia law. The Machakos Protocol calls on the GoNU to make unity attractive. Making unity attractive is equivalent to making alcohol attractive in Khartoum. If a Southern businessman is legally barred from opening a beer store, the same businessman cannot be attracted by unity under Sharia.

If the NCP cannot stomach free Sharia capital, it follows logically that it would not implement the CPA. If it cannot execute the CPA, it is better for both North and South to depart peacefully than violently. The history attests that resistance to democratic values always leads to violent break up of a country.

The Democratic Forum calls on SPLM Party to make a choice between unity and separation if the NCP refuses to back down from its fundamentalist position. As Tiger Battalion of the SPLA said in 1985, “the people of South Sudan would continue struggle for freedom, democracy and respect for human dignity even if only two Southerners remain”. SPLM should not fail the heroes of Tiger Battalion who died for freedom. No peace without secular Khartoum, where the people of the South should have the right to drink liquor as they wish. The essence of freedom is to allow citizens to decide what they want as long as it is endorsed by the Constitution of the land.

The leadership of the Democratic Forum calls on Vice-president Kiir not to fail the South this time after loss of the Ministry of mining. If it is the return to war after the CPA is violated, the Democratic Forum would unite with SPLM to declare unilateral independence.

G. Buay Reath
Chairman of South Sudan Democratic Forum-Canada
Ottawa, Ontario,
Tel. (613) 260-9307
Email: [email protected]

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