Making Separation of the South Difficult to Attain
By Dr. James Okuk
It is undeniable that the Sudanese are now divided into the conservativism of the unionists for the unity of the
Sudan; and the liberalism of the separatists for the independence of
South Sudan. Each side of this division has been recognized constitutionally in the
Sudan in 1998 National Constitution by virtue of
Khartoum and Fachoda peace agreements; and in 2005 Interim National Constitution by virtue of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Each extreme side of these people desire to promote and pursue their interests by any means possible. The rest of the people remain in the middle way not knowing which side is the best to join since each of these has its pros and cons. But since they are neutral, their case does not affect any extreme side.
On one hand, the unionists are afraid of separation of
South Sudan and have made it their prime duty to make any tendency for its independence a very difficult objective to attain. They see themselves as beneficiaries of the united
Sudan with all its unjust legacies and contradictions. Some of them think that if some reforms and changes are done in the manner of governing the country, perhaps, this could persuade the separatists to change their stand and embrace the pursuit for continuity of the unity of the country on a new basis. For example, they think that if a Southerner from African decent is made president of the
Sudan, this could attract a sizeable number of Southerners to unity of the country even if other realities that led to their dissidence remain intact.
But the arguments of the unionists don‚Äôt appeal strongly to the dissatisfied Sudanese because many unjust practices that have taken place in the governance of the Sudan have made many people angry and hopeless of any stable good future within the on-going unity. The unity of the
Sudan is nothing new because all the unionists and separatists have been living it already with worst references more than the best ones. There is no benefit of doubt left for a new trial for betterment.
On the other hand, the separatists are uncomfortable with the unity of the
Sudan because they think this disadvantages them in many aspects, especially in economic and political arenas. They think that the negative legacies of the united
Sudan are deeply rooted to be uprooted and replaced with better new alternatives. For them, the only way out for Sudanese problems is separation and independence of
South Sudan so that its people could get full freedom to try their liberal best to accomplish good news for their new and young country.
The case and arguments of the separatists are appealing because these are still at the level of speculation for something that has not been tried before. The separatists have the opportunity for a trial of a new reality of secession and independence of
South Sudan. It is difficult and even illogical to judge them with any direct evidence because they have never tried the new solution so as to prove them successful or failure. The only best thing to do is allowing them to prove themselves either way so that a concrete and non-speculative judgment can be levied on them after. This is how the idea of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan became a reality recognized nationally in the
Sudan and internationally in the United Nations, AU, IGAD, among others.
However, because the unionists have taken it as a duty upon themselves to make the separation and independence of the South a difficult case to attain, they have put forward hard conditions and stringent procedures to discourage the separatists from getting their interest so easily. For, instance, the unionists left it intentionally opened and vague (for further bilateral negotiations) the item of referendum for self-determination in the Machakos Protocol of the CPA: ‚ÄúThe people of
South Sudan have the right to self-determination, inter alia, through a referendum to determine their future status.‚ÄĚ (Article, 1.3), and that ‚ÄúAt the end of the six (6) year Interim Period there shall be an internationally monitored referendum, organized jointly by the GoS and the SPLM/A, for the people of South Sudan to: confirm the unity of the Sudan by voting to adopt the system of government established under the Peace Agreement; or to vote for secession.‚ÄĚ (Article, 2.5).
Further, these crafty articles for self-determination are pre-condition: ‚ÄúThat the unity of the Sudan, based on the free will of its people [,] democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, and justice for all citizens of the Sudan is and shall be the priority of the Parties and that it is possible to redress the grievances of the people of South Sudan and meet their aspirations within such a framework.‚ÄĚ (Part A, Article, 1.1); that ‚ÄúThe national Constitutional Review Commission, as detailed in Section 2.12 herein, shall also detail the mandate and provide for the appointment and other mechanisms to ensure the independence of the following institutions:- ‚Ä¶. ‚ÄúAn ad-hoc Commission to monitor and ensure accuracy, legitimacy, and transparency of the Referendum as mentioned in the Mechakos Protocol on Self-determination for the people of
South Sudan, which shall also include international experts.‚ÄĚ (Article, 2.10.1 & 22.214.171.124); and that ‚ÄúThe Parties shall refrain from any form of unilateral revocation or abrogation of the Peace Agreement.‚ÄĚ (Article, 2.6).
As far as the Referendum for Self-determination by the people of Southern Sudan is concerned, these are all the articles mentioned in the CPA and incorporated in the 2005 Interim National Constitution of the
Sudan. They are the ones used as the term of reference in the on-going negotiations between the SPLM and NCP regarding the plebiscite that is supposed to take place for the people of
Southern Sudan by the end of the CPA‚Äôs interim period.
You can detect from those articles how the aspirations of the separatists for South Sudan are made very difficult by the unionists of the
Sudan. Unsurprisingly, this has been uttered by the Chairman of the Sudan National Assembly some months back when he said that he will ensure that the law-makers in the parliament shall produce a referendum Bill that makes unity a very difficult option to pursue if not impossible to attain. This is a good clue for serious doubts that even if H.E. Othman Taha and H.E. Dr. Riek Machar broke the deadlock on Referendum draft Bill, still it is going to be very hard or even impossible for this draft to go through in the National Assembly under the Speaker, Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir. Not only this, but it is highly feared that this draft Bill might end up dead in that Parliament not only because of the sabotage and feed-dragging of the NCP but also because of the unionists of the SPLM and other political parties represented over there.
That is why it is will be wise for separatists not to put all their hopes in the CPA‚Äôs egg basket; they need to device and prepare other alternatives for the independence of South Sudan because the unionist are not going to let go so easily the desired new trial. Even if it is said and applauded that there is SPLM-NCP breakthrough in the Referendum draft Bill, yet the journey is still jammed with unionists‚Äô blockages that gives separatists hard times and labour to constantly remove those blocks.
So my dear separatists, it is not over and it will not be over till it is over.
And my dear unionists, know it well that the separatists are not going to give up because they will be ready to sweat and bleed with determination to remove your obstacles on their journey to independence and total freedom of the South. Know it pretty well that you are going to have hard times with forced unity without the free will of most of the people of
Southern Sudan. But you might get relieved from burdens of the current dictatorial unity of the
Sudan if you let go easily the South so that it becomes the best possible independent neighbouring country to the
Dr. James Okuk is a Concerned Southerner. He can be reach him at [email protected]