Authorities in South Sudan believe other regions in Sudan will eventually secede peacefully from North Sudan’s Khartoum government. With south Sudan’s referendum result expected to be overwhelmingly in favor of secession, opposition leaders have avowed that a change of government will come “not with weapons but with the people.”
Southern Sudan’s referendum could be the precursor to a wider split of the Sudan, a country that is comparable in size to Western Europe or more than a quarter of the United States of America.
Speaking to reporters in Qatar, Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi said society has the ability to overthrow the Khartoum regime, peacefully warning of similar secessionist tendencies in other regions of Sudan.
“The south will undoubtedly become independent. Maybe Darfur and the east will follow. The upcoming outburst of the Sudanese people will not happen only in Khartoum, but in all of Sudan. Civil society has the ability to overthrow the regime peacefully,” Turabi was quoted as saying.
Turabi emphasized peaceful separation from northern Sudan, dismissing talks of a coup by saying that “all the Sudanese people now hate” such an option.
Almost four million people have signed up to vote in the referendum, organizers reported on Monday. Turabi expressed confidence that south Sudan would choose secession in the referendum, without a north-south war.
While ballot votes on the referendum that could sustain or divide Sudan are due to begin on Sunday, January 9, opposition leaders have agreed to topple the Khartoum regime if it tried to prevent southern Sudan’s independence.
“Sub-committees have been designated to prepare … the means by which to overthrow the regime right after the results of the referendum are announced,” Turabi added.
According to Turabi, toppling a Khartoum government will either force it to make concessions or make the national opposition movement push the people towards a rebellion.
Turabi was once Bashir’s mentor, but is now one of his fiercest critics. He was arrested and jailed last year after criticizing April elections which returned Bashir to power.
Observers, however, worry that South Sudan’s poor infrastructure and political issues might delay the polls. But the electoral body said it is “100 percent prepared” for the vote and it will be held on time.