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South Sudan refutes Gaddafi’s claim that Africa will disintegrate if south becomes independent

By Ngor Arol Garang

October 11, 2010 (JUBA) - A minister in the regional government of southern Sudan on Monday refuted claims by Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi that secession of south Sudan from the north will encourage disintegration of Africa.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin (ST)

Gaddafi’s statement, warned 10 October that the secession of the south from the north will encourage similar demands for secession in other parts of the continent.

Marial Benjamin, minister for information and broadcasting services in the southern government, told Sudan Tribune on Monday, that the vote on secession of the south iss “a special case,” and is required constitutionally as a legal provision in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The deal between the former southern rebels the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum government of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) ended 22 years of civil war.

“The issue of the south is the special case because it is a legal demand. This is not a demand without legal bases. It is a demand that has constitutional rights because there is a road map”, said Benjamin.

South Sudan will hold an independence referendum on whether or not it should remain as a part of Sudan in January 2011.

A similar referendum will be held in Abyei on whether to return to Bahr el Ghazal in the South Sudan, from where it was transferred in 1905 to Kordofan in central Sudan, or choose to remain part of the region.

“This is what the agreement which the two parties in reference to the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’ Liberation Movement signed in 2005 in Nairob,Kenya,” say Benjamin.

The deal agreed that parallel to the southern self determination vote the contested oil rich region of Abyei will decide whether it wants to remain with north – were it has been administratively since 1905 – or to join the south.

“The right to choose between the two options to decide their political destiny as in the CPA will be granted by conducting an internationally monitored referendum, which is part of the peace agreement the two parties have signed in 2005 with witness from international community, regional authorities and international organizations,” explained Marial.

The minister pointed the example of the independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1991 claiming that it had not encouraged disintegration.

"If secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia did not bring continental disintegration of Africa, why would secession of the south from the north through legal processes and procedures encourage regional disintegration if secession of the Eritrea from Ethiopia has not brought it,” asked the minister.

Marial asked, “why would the secession of the south from the north also encourage secesion of any part of any African country. Why would any part of any country in Africa unjustifiably use secession of the south from the north as bargaining tool without giving necessary reason for demaning secession.”

The minister argued that the south has always supported unity of the country but their support for unity has always been used to the advantage of the successive central governments in Khartoum.

Benjamin explained said that the souths experience of unity with the north has meant the “suffering and killings of innocent people” and displacement of vulnerable groups, especially women, children and the elderly.

Calling on international community, particularly the Arab League and African Union to respect their legal obligations on the CPA, the minister said he has been surprised by some of what he sees as the contradictory remarks from some African leaders who had previously pledged to recognize outcome of the referendum.

“The international community including the AU and Arab League have legal obligations in respecting choice of the people of south Sudan and this was why in the first place some leaders like the same Libyan Leader in the past pledged their support to recognize result of the referendum,” said Benjamin.