Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 10 October 2010

South Sudan separation is not hatred of Northern Sudanese


By Jacob K. Lupai

October 9, 2010 — There abounds that South Sudan separation is a conspiracy against the unity of Sudan. Others are concluding that South Sudan separation is a hatred of Arabs and Muslims in North Sudan. Anyway one is entitled to their opinion. The truth of the matter is in the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 between the National Congress Party (NCP) representing the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) representing the marginalised of Sudan.

The CPA has granted South Sudan the right of self-determination to be exercised through a referendum at the end of the CPA. The life of the CPA is 6 years with effect from 2005. In the referendum South Sudan is given the option of either to vote for unity of Sudan of for separation to form an independent nation of its own. Nonetheless the CPA commits the NCP and the SPLM to work and make unity attractive.

The life of the CPA ends on 9 January 2011and technically Sudan would be a different country from that of the life of the CPA. The main issue here, though, is the extent to which the NCP and the SPLM have made unity of Sudan attractive to the electorate of South Sudan. Ultimately it is the electorate of South Sudan to evaluate through the ballot box the extent to which unity of Sudan has been made attractive. Trading blames is not going to help. Objectivity is needed in laying down bare facts for the electorate to make an informed choice in the referendum.

The conclusion that South Sudan separation is a hatred of Arabs and Muslims in North Sudan is debatable. Do people hate Arabs and Muslims simply for being Arabs and Muslims or do people hate Arabs and Muslims for their actions? If people hate Arabs and Muslims simply for being Arabs and Muslims then the hatred may border on insanity. People may find themselves Arabs and Muslims through no fault of their own. For example, a person may be born to an Arab mother and father, and into a Muslim family such that the person is an Arab and also a Muslim and in addition may not have done any wrong to anybody. How hatred of this Arab and Muslim is to be justified? May be it could be a projected hatred of an act committed by a distant Arab and Muslim somewhere else.

Here in hatred there are two scenarios. One hates a person for the sake of hating and the other hates a person for their actions. The first is the perception of Arabs and Muslims as the object of hatred and the second is of actions of the Arabs and Muslims as the object of hatred. The first kind of hatred may be held by people suffering from a phobia (Arabophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia etc.). In contrast the second is hatred generated by negative actions that might have been deliberately perpetuated against the welfare of the people concerned.

The hatred alluded here in relation to South Sudan separation seems to fit into the second scenario of hatred. The actions of the Arabs and Muslims in North Sudan in relation to the marginalisation and neglect of South Sudan naturally did not make unity of Sudan attractive but only to North Sudan. Arguably the hatred is not against Arabs and Muslims simply for being Arabs and Muslims but it is against their actions that are perceived negatively in the South. There would not have been any cause of hatred if South Sudan was not marginalised and neglected by successive predominantly Arab Muslim governments of Sudan. Consequently unity of Sudan would have been attractive and there wouldn’t have been any call for self-determination and a referendum in South Sudan. A tunnel vision was pursued with the resultant breakup of Sudan.

South Sudan separation is the ultimate expression of disgust with unity of Sudan. The NCP which is the senior partner in the government of national unity (GONU) because it is the dominant party in government treats the SPLM as a junior partner in the CPA. To begin with the NCP refused the adoption of the Abyei Border Commission report. The NCP and the SPLM then agreed for the matter to be referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. The PCA redrew the boundaries of Abyei. However, the borders have yet to be demarcated to comply with the court’s ruling. The problem is that the Misseriya, cattle-herders, who have no right to vote in areas assigned by the PCA to the Dinka Ngok are threatening violence if they are excluded from the Abyei referendum. The NCP seems to condone the Misseriya threats of violence to undermine the referendum taking place in Abyei. The Misseriya main worry is that if South Sudan separates and the North-South border becomes an international boundary, they will lose grazing rights to the land.

From what is clear the Misseriya do not have a case. It seems it is a ploy by the NCP for the referendum in Abyei not to take place. South Sudan has assured the Misseriya that even if it separates the Misseriya will still have access to grazing land in South Sudan. So it is not clear what all the fuss is about. However, one thing is clear that the North wants to hang on to southern oilfields through Abyei as long as it takes.

It is important to reiterate that South Sudan separation is not a hatred of Arabs and Muslims in North Sudan. It is the poor implementation of the CPA that is the cause of separation in addition to memories of marginalisation, neglect and destruction caused in South Sudan. It is public knowledge that the North is cheating the South. For example, in the sharing of oil revenues only 26 per cent is remitted to the South, contrary to the CPA 50 per cent share of the oil revenues to the South. The North collects from the South revenues generated from alcohol taxes, something that is strange indeed given the North is applying Islamic sharia that prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol. The North is trying to tie the lack of demarcation of North-South border with the referendum in the South. This means that there is no referendum without North-South border demarcation. In addition the North is issuing threats to the South to desist from separating. How is all this making unity of Sudan attractive?

On its own South Sudan is moving on to see that the referendum takes place on time according to the CPA with no need to make a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). Eritrea scored a decisive military victory but did not declare a UDI. It instead conducted a referendum of its own and won a worldwide recognition in no time. With international monitors witnessed by the United Nations with or without the recognition of the referendum result by the NCP, South Sudan will be the newest independent nation on planet earth. One important thing, though, is for people to remain united until the end. From boma, payam, county, state and to South Sudan level no seed of disunity should be planted. States have to rally behind their respective governors and the South has to rally behind the President of the Government of South Sudan who is now leading from the front on the issue of the referendum in this last crucial remaining 90 days to the referendum taking place and to the eventuality of independence.

In conclusion objectively South Sudan separation is not a hatred of Arabs and Muslims in North Sudan. It is dependent on what has been done to the South in the course of the last 54 years of independence of Sudan. Independence to South Sudan will be a blessing in disguise. It will be the opening of a new chapter. The extent of cordial relations between the North and the South will, however, depend on how the NCP will react to the birth of a new nation in the South. South Sudan will obviously defend resolutely its territorial integrity as a sovereign independent nation with all its might and with all the resources at its disposal. The South is like a woman in labour in her last seconds to push out her beautiful and precious firstborn baby. The NCP may be advised that stubbornness does not pay as the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq seems to suggest. The will to survive as a nation will be very strong in the South and none will give up their newly founded state as it was in Israel in 1948.

The author can be reached at jklupai@googlemail.com


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  • 10 October 2010 09:16, by AAMA

    Dear Jacob,

    Thanks for the informative article, and I really hope that you arguments reflect the hidden truth. It’s in the best interest of the north to have healthy neighboring states. Honestly, I am not convinced about the hate thing but anyways, there are reasons for that hate, however, the political drama that is happening now between the NCP and SPLM is not a justifiable reason to the Sudanese public when it comes to separation. The only interpretation for the coming seperation that all the north understands today is that the south hates the north collectively and the people who are labeled arabs and muslims to be precise. For me it’s fine, as long as this hate is kept in the hearts and allowed to fade away thorugh time and not turn into action or violence (like what happened when Garang died and the people of the north in Khartoum where targeted and attacked out of the blue).

    All the best for south, the sane north understands and needs to work with you to keep your new state viable, otherwise, Sudan will suffer from your failure if it happens.


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  • 10 October 2010 11:20, by makuei

    Thanks Mr. Lupai for the wonderful Article. I wish to add that the GoNU was tasked with making unity attractive during the 6 year interim period. This Government has failed to do just that. What can the Southerners do if nothing has appealed to them during the past 6 years to attract them towards unity. The option is for them to choose to try their own development on their own as a separate state. You have hit the nail on the head.


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