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Secession of southern Sudan not necessary

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th February 2005 03:00 AM

All the comments I have heard since the signing of a comprehensive Sudan peace settlement on January 9, point to one thing: a success story not only to former belligerents, but also to the region and the African continent.

All the comments I have heard since the signing of a comprehensive Sudan peace settlement on January 9, point to one thing: a success story not only to former belligerents, but also to the region and the African continent.

Nsereko KagGwa
All the comments I have heard since the signing of a comprehensive Sudan peace settlement on January 9, point to one thing: a success story not only to former belligerents, but also to the region and the African continent.

However, the problem some people point out is with the provision for a referendum to be held after six years to determine whether the south wants to secede from the north.
Several southern Sudanese I have talked to say they are not interested in separation. Indeed, while officiating at a pan-African workshop in Kampala on January 28,
Dr John Garang said the SPLM/A long abandoned the separationist quest in 1983.

But according to the agreement, by implication, the referendum is shrouded with pessimism. As of now, the Nairobi agreement has addressed almost all issues that constituted the borne of contention: marginalisation, access to national resources, participation in decision-making and the quality and type of the judicial system.

Moreover, the best redress for people in the affected region should have been to induce Khartoum to rehabilitate the south. For more than 20 years, southern Sudanese have suffered the brunt of the civil war that pitted the Sudanese government against the SPLA. The time for southern Sudanese to assert their rights over revenues accruing from the country’s resources is now! Oil revenue is not the most important issue as the architects of the agreement seem to suggest.

Besides, some people say the close ties between the peoples of the southern and northern Sudan is a historical one. They add that this has more than anything else forged the cohesion among the different nationalities in Sudan.

Sudanese president Omar el Bashir has already offered to commit the budget originally meant for the war against the SPLA, to developing southern Sudan.

We therefore expect to see new infrastructure, a rejuvenated education system and improved health services, among others. In light of these anticipation, how will Khartoum abandon these initiatives in just after six years on account of a referendum?

There are people who say the provision for a referendum was basically inserted to act as a scarecrow to induce concessions from Khartoum.
Otherwise, how could you tell whether those seeking to benefit by gaining easy access and control of Sudan oil would not mislead Sudanese by influencing the plebiscite result in favour of separation?

But such secession (God forbid), would not be the first. It would be the second. And I think it is the reason why many loathe it. If the first separation during the 21-year war that killed about two million people and caused over four million displacements was ‘despicable’, the second one with a potential to cause even graver repercussions would be dreadful.

If religious tensions and skewed resource allocations triggered off the first separation; its feared border disputes could characterise the second one. Ethiopia against Eritrea, Chad against Libya and Western Sahara against Morocco are good examples.
But globally, the key inclination, is to accelerate integration and unity among smaller entities to face economic and political challenges of the present.
Regionally, Rwanda and Burundi have applied to become part of the east African Community. The essential outcome of the latest meetings between presidents Yoweri Museveni, Benjamin Mkapa and Mwai Kibaki is aimed at eventually achieving a political federation for their three countries with a single elected president by 2013.
While 90 million east Africans will attain a political union eight years from now, why should someone cheer for 12-million southern Sudanese to disintegrate?

Nsereko Kaggwa is the administrative secretary,
Journalists Human
Rights Forum

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Ends

Secession of southern Sudan not necessary

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