January 9th- a Day of Peace and Full Independence
There are many days in a given year but some days are often celebrated due to significant events they represent to individuals or nations as a whole. For Sudan, January first is always remembered and celebrated as traditional Independence Day on which the country freed it self from British colonial rule. However, on January 9, 2005, Sudanese people arrived at a new true independence day when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, ending one of the longest armed conflicts in the African continent. As attested by President Omar El Bashir, “Sudan’s independence was never complete until January 9, 2005.”
So, what is remarkably special about this glamorous day, the January 9th? Well, although CPA was signed with a notion of grooming unity to make it attractive, the right for Self Determination of the people of Southern Sudan enshrined in it distinctively qualifies the day to be a moment worth commemoration. The milestone for true independence of South Sudan and attainment of its freedom formally begun on January 9, 2005 and will hopefully gets accomplished in 2011 through an internationally supervised referendum.
Before January 9, 2005 and throughout 22 years preceding it, Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), under leadership of late Dr. John Garang De Mabior fought a lengthy war to liberate marginalized masses of Sudan from the yoke of minority clique regimes in Khartoum with the aim of establishing New Sudan of justice, freedom and equality. The oppressors on their part ventured to indefinitely keep South Sudanese and other marginalized people of Sudan as second-class citizens in their own country through religious indoctrination that classified them as infidels who must be subdued to full oppression or face total inhalation. The National Islamic Front, also known as National Congress Party (NCP), utilized religion as a mean to justify Jihad (Islamic holy war) against SPLA/M prior to January 9, 2005 but now the two previously bitter rivals are key partners in the Government of National Unity, formed in compliance with the CPA stipulations.
It will remain in history books however; that before January 9, 2005, more than two million precious lives perished as a result of war or war related man-made disasters while more than four million others became uprooted in the process. Despite immense human suffering that ensued, the Sudan Army and SPLA forces continued to interchange wining major and minor battles with no sign of either army completely wining the war. The politicians on both sides, represented by Islamic Fundamentalists of NCP on one hand, and SPLM Leadership Council on the other, were equally seen unyielding to a much-desired peace.
Fortunately, Sudan’s neighbors and the International Community were upbeat in their quest to bring about peaceful settlement to this deadly conflict. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Friends of IGAD, and the United Nations Security Council exerted intense diplomatic pressure on both SPLA/M and Government of Sudan (GoS) to reach peace agreement by the end of 2004. Nevertheless and for reasons obscure to anxiously awaiting millions of Sudanese who were eager to see peace implemented, the negotiators dragged their feet until January 9, 2005- the date of signing of the CPA and beginning of the pre-interim period. Consequently, the long overdue peaceful settlement and particularly the right for self-determination were brought to us in a golden plate on that tranquil day which we will always celebrate with profound joy and utter jubilation.