What is to be expected – Sudan, a nation divided

Reading time 3 min.
Map of Sudan (excerpt)
Map of Sudan (excerpt)

The concluding ninth article in our series on Sudan’s pending referenda examines the possible outcomes of the secession of the South. Though the ending of the Beshir dictatorship could be a welcome change, a freewheeling political environment that leaves mini-states of Sudan at the mercy of powers-that-be is undesirable.

If the referendum does take place peacefully, it is doubtful a free referendum can be a reality in a situation of dictatorship.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the majority of the Southerners will vote for separation.

An advocate of a united New Sudan, the late Dr. John Garang, was himself inclining towards secession before he died. His death, under what many call suspicious circumstances (helicopter accident), has opened up the way for hardline champions of secession like Silva Kir and Riek Machar, both with very long and close connections with Washington and London.

The secession could lead to war by itself, especially if the Abyei question remains unresolved. On the other hand, from the look of things, the referendum may not even be held at the determined time, and this could lead to the renewal of conflicts.

Last year, close to 25,000 Southerners died in inter-south fighting, and Khartoum has been accused of arming Southern groups opposed to the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS).

This arming of Southern groups hostile to their government means that the South may be headed towards inter-tribal chaos, as the Dinka-dominated GOSS has been accused of corruption, “tribalism” and dictatorship.

However, pessimistic scenarios aside, should the North accept the result of the referendum, and if the Abyei thorn is removed and an agreement that guarantees peace between North and South is reached, it would indeed be a miracle, as a conflagration could be avoided even though problems of the South and North may still await a democratic resolution.

Unfortunately, miracles rarely happen in the hapless region, and the safe bet is that Sudan (or even an independent South Sudan) will not have peace in the near future.

The end of the Beshir dictatorship is nothing to regret but an event to herald with joy, while the end of a united Sudan and the proliferation of (relatively) mini-states left to the mercy of powers-that-be who do not have the interest of the people (and Africa) at heart is not really something to yearn for.

An independent South signing the end of Beshir could thus be welcome, but the demise of Sudan itself is not desirable. An independent South Sudan could join Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Djibouti to form a pro-West regional coalition; a coalition that could reduce the forceful Arabization by Khartoum, which has been accused of Islamic intransigence and support to “terrorists.”

Read also :

Part 1: The Price of Independence

Part 2: Beginnings of the end

Part 3: Teaming up with Egypt for the Nile

Part 4: The question of a gerrymandered “oil rich” Abyei

Part 5: A nation divided: Where does Ethiopia stand?

Part 6: Eritrea and Ethiopia’s proxy war

Part 7: The United States, Britain and China

Part 8: A nation divided: separation and peace possible?

Part 9: Sudan — A nation divided: What is to be expected

Sudan - A nation divided  The stakes are high as Southern Sudanese head for the polls to decide on whether or not they want to break away from the North. While the North-South tug of war is centred around oil and the Nile’s water, ethnicity and religion have proved to be the breaking point in a highly polarized country. As fear of war looms with the two sides amassing weapons, what is the role of regional players, including Ethiopia, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya and Kenya, who stand to lose or gain from Sudan’s split or union? And what about the international community, the African Union, the Arab League? Our series of articles highlight a troubled history of the Sudan and the Horn of Africa region, including their allies, and also tackle questions surrounding who stands to gain or lose from the pending referenda.
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