Home | News    Wednesday 17 November 2010

"Soft borders" important between would-be independent South and North – Machar


November 16, 2010 (JUBA) – The second figure in the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan has reiterated his government’s commitment to maintain “soft borders” with northern Sudan in the event of southern Sudan becoming independent after the referendum vote in January 2011.

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Riek Machar talking to Salva Kiir by Telephone form the Arbitration tribunal in The Huage on July 22, 2009 (Reuters)

Vice President Riek Machar told a visiting delegation of the Carter Center in Juba that the two regions would still continue to need each other to build their economies, hence the importance of keeping the borders soft and allowing cross-border trade to flourish between them.

He said if the North understands such important future relations with the South, issues of post-referendum arrangements would not raise temperatures because they can be resolved amicably after the referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei.

The two parties have yet to tackle the future of oil; its production, transportation and marketing, currency, security, water, citizenship, international treaties and agreements.

Machar said while it was important to tackle the issues such as citizenship in order to determine the status of southerners and northerners living in northern Sudan and vice versa so that they don’t immediately become stateless in the event of secession, others such as oil and international treaties can be deferred to after referendum.

The Vice President explained what is important at this point in time is for the two parties to agree on a framework assuring their commitment to resolve the outstanding issues peacefully even after the referendum.

He said the period after voting from 9 January to 9 July 2011 would be used to resolve the post-referendum issues, adding that even if the South would vote for secession in January 2011, its independence would only be launched on 9 July, six months after the voting result, in accordance with the 2005 peace deal.

Until 9 July when independence would be declared in the event of a vote for separation, he said, the post-referendum issues would have been resolved.

Production of oil which gives the South 98% of its overall annual revenues is located in the South while the pipelines flow northwards. Export terminals are also in the north.

The north on the other hand needs the oil as well as trade with the South and free movement of its nomadic tribes such as Messeriya to the southern grazing lands, among others.

In the South Machar added that the government would, after the secession vote in January 2011, call for the National Constitutional Review Commission to review the current Southern Sudan Interim Constitution and come up with a draft constitution, after which a constitutional conference would be called.

This would, he added, be followed by formation of a transitional government after 9 July, which lifespan would later on be agreed upon, before fresh elections could be organized in the newly independent state.

He brushed aside suggestions of a confederation between North and South, saying the South should vote first and determine such arrangements later.


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  • 17 November 2010 05:59, by Gatwech

    Dear readers,

    It is very funny that somebody in the north is dreaming of confederal system with the south after more than 50 years of miserable failure for the two to stay together.

    To me, the best offer for the two to continue smelling each other is through the soft borders as envisioned by South Sudan leadership.

    Yes, why in a haste when the post-referendum issues can be resolved after referendum. Even the South will have six months to prepare itself for the launching of its independence on July 9, 2011. \

    By that time we will have completed all the necessary preparations for a new nation and come up with a very good national anthem to sing during the official declaration of independence on July 9.

    All southerners should vote for secession (separation) on January 9, so that the independence will be declared on July 9.

    South Sudan oyeee........

    repondre message

    • 17 November 2010 10:06, by visitor

      I keep asking but no-one answers: what is the point of separating when south Sudan is going to allow the immigration and freedom of Muslims? You will be an Islamic state in the end, and it won’t be far off, what with all the Somalians coming in too. So what does south Sudan have to gain? Just a party after the referendum?

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      • 17 November 2010 12:38, by Joseph

        Mr. Visitor

        Before I answer your question, are you for unity or separation?
        I’m a true liberator who liberates some parts of southern Sudan 1985 to 1999.

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        • 18 November 2010 01:37, by visitor

          Joseph: please see my comment to John Atem. I am in favour of pragmatism and the careful study of history. I am not in favour of naivety or blind hope.
          It is not blind hope to see that what John Garang wanted is still possible, a secular Sudan with leaders who realise that "the Prophet" only brought war and oppression, and his dreams of a universal Islam should be put aside and not allowed to rule people’s minds and lives.
          I don’t want to see separation or the "unity" which is under the thumbs of the Arabs. There would be better to be a compromise, and I would LOVE to work on this with the GOSS!
          You say you are a "true liberator": then I salute you for your courage in staying to fight for freedom, and pray it is not stolen from you after your work.

          repondre message

      • 17 November 2010 13:45, by John M. Atem

        Mr Visitor,
        You have posed this question: What is the point of separation when South Sudan is going to allow the immigration and freedom of Muslims? Well, we want separation so that we can be free. You may ask freedom from what? Freedom from Arabization and Islamization of non-Muslim population. This is all we want.
        Yes, I agree with second portion of your comment. We do have alot of lawless Somalians in Juba as we speak and the Government of Southern Sudan needs to get rid of them. Indeed, when we separate from the North, we will become more prosperous country. So, Please donot lose your determined hope. We are almost there. Thank you very much. I hope I have answered your praiseworthy question.

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        • 18 November 2010 01:20, by visitor

          Thankyou for replying. I can’t say I am for unity or separation: I would prefer to see a federal system for Sudan, keeping the current border but with internal states to be democratically decided on for demarcation purposes) which allows separate states a good deal of autonomy and the right to enforce cultural identity of the individual state’s choice. So if south Sudan wants to reject Islamization, it will insist on the right to make laws which discourage the expression of Islam (for example, the death-for-apostasy law could be formally banned and transgressors punished, preference and help given to immigrants fleeing Islam, the call to prayer banned, a ban on discriminatory employment practices, a ban on the establishment of Islamic schools - which after all follow the Koranic injunction to spread Islam and suppress or enslave non-Muslims...it is all through the Koran...etc).
          If this kind of tough action is not taken, Islam will creep over the borders, lay claim to the schools and institutions, marry the girls and get up to its usual tricks....even if south Sudan separates. I say this because I keep hearing from south Sudanese about tolerance of religion and other sweet things which make me think that despite south Sudan’s history, the people have not learned that no matter how nice and peaceful Muslim immigrants seem to be, they bring their clerics with them and everyone gets sharia in the end, whether they like it or not. I know south Sudanese just want peace to get on with their lives but Muslims bring trouble...it is just the nature of Islam. They give each other preferential treatment because that is what the Koran tells them to do, and they believe it.
          Separation will bring about the ultimate disintegration of Sudan. This will probably mean refugees coming INTO south Sudan. They will include Muslims who will eventually want to change south Sudan to suit themselves, just as they do everywhere else.
          I am not trying to be simply gloomy. I just want the southern Sudanese to really think about this. The Sudanese people can live together in the same country, and it CAN work, ONLY if the NCP can see that it is in their interest to let the south have cultural autonomy. Otherwise the north have a LOT to lose. But when they start to really go down, they will in their anger create a lot of trouble for the south, starting with attacks on southerners living in the north.
          All I am saying is: south Sudanese say they want separation because they want freedom from Islamization amd Arabization. Fair enough. But how are they going to achieve this? With "soft borders"?

          repondre message

  • 17 November 2010 12:46, by James Okuk Solomon

    Don’t get easily overwhelmed Your Excellency, Dr Riek Machar. We are not yet there to speak with certainty as you seem to be doing here. The referendum is a long process from first step of the ladder to the last one; the official announcement of the results.

    There is still a legal gap on the 9th January 2011 SPLM "sacrosanct" date of the referendum polling, and this needs to be tackled wisely either by ammending the Referendum Act (2009) - which is a bit risky as the NCP controls the Sudan Parliament now - or pushing the polling date with three months ahead of 9th January as required by the Referendum Act, which seems to be the less evil and with calm end-result.

    It is not wise to climb the last step of the ladder before we have reached it. Be patient; step by step we will surely catch the monkey.

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    • 17 November 2010 16:31, by Ajiech M. Chol

      Dear James,

      Our Vice president Dr. Riak is very optimistic & that’s a good attitude we all Southerners should hear from our leaders. Thus, your pessimistic attitude toward Southern Sudan Independence is not new to us. Witout doubt, it’s true that the north must decide between two options: to not let the south go by fighting which is a wrong choice for them and suffer consequence after Independence or work well with SPLM to maintain a good relationship between two countries mostly when the south gets her independence in January.

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    • 17 November 2010 17:42, by Machingela gai

      The south has one option out of many options suggested in the CPA: vote on Jan.9 of next year. What seems to be a long process here is none of what South is doing. Six years have passed by and nothing changed in the North. Northern collective intelligence has negative impact in the CPA and in its execution as well.
      So, what extension date do you want to see happening?

      The known condition threatening the conduct of referendum now is to push it ahead. Three months to be given to referendum should have come two years back to see if that fit well before this prime time. But, Arabs by the time were sleeping, expecting their magic tricks to do everything for them. Now, they realize that their tricks are not working and they want this reversal process very badly to take place than ever in their favor. We don’t like their policies and we don’t want that to happen now. So, what is the point of doing that while having no collective interest with them anymore?

      Doing so is a ugly unity we have been suffering under it for many decades with nothing being achieved. It will come with difficulties that might need the exclusive CPA renegotiation if that thing is allowed. Who knows will happen after three Months? All conditions of failure are too many down the road to make things a lot harder than they are. Demarcation is part of the CPA’s agendas, but it shouldn’t be the only issue to undermine the rest. Mr. Vice President is right in his assertion that referendum is possible with soft borders talks. We have to agree with Arabs on how our neighboring will be after that and beyond. But the South should not make a mistake to allow such a thing to hijack its aspiration. Referendum schedule date is a priority no matter what comes last.

      The fear of that legal gap in referendum polling on January 9 is not SPLM philosophy to go with. There is no more time left my friend to play with Southern’s struggle.
      All pending issues will happen by themselves when we take care of referendum.
      I believe in Southern leadership to pull this out successfully. The moxie to stand up for Southern’s right has been tested under their leadership, and that thing is a wisdom born out of action and knowledge our leaders practice everyday.

      So, what are you talking about?

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