From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Mon May 16 2011 - 08:46:35 EDT
South Sudan: Messy divorce or amicable split? Yohannes Woldemariam 2011-05-12,
‘The history of Sudan is a complex one which can’t be reduced to a linear
narrative of south versus north,’ writes Yohannes Woldemariam. Can South
Sudan resolve the sticking points standing in the way of successful
Most western countries tacitly supported the creation of a divided Sudan
even before the referendum took place. However, separation is not
necessarily the ideal solution. Professor Mahmood Mamdani’s article, ‘South
Sudan: Rethinking citizenship, sovereignty and self-determination’
http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/72924 is excellent for
understanding the variety of issues involved in the separation of south and
north Sudan. If certain outstanding issues are not ironed out, the divorce
can be messy. I also like that Mamdani unsettles the casual essentialist
dichotomy that frames the conflict in a simple South versus North
categories. The history of Sudan is a complex one which can’t be reduced to
a linear narrative of south versus north.
Mamdani is right in his assertion that the external factor/pressure was
crucial in Omer Al Bashir’s ‘acceptance’ of the outcome of the referendum.
Al Bashir hoped to diffuse the negative publicity from Darfur and his
trouble with the ICJ by accepting the secession of south Sudan. The possible
intervention of the United States was of serious concern to Al Bashir.
While most writing on Sudan is focused on the potential conflict between the
north and the South, Mamdani’s look into internal southern Sudanese issues
is another perceptive insight. With 92 per cent illiteracy rate and several
ethnic groupings, the perceived national cohesiveness of southern Sudan is
fragile at best.
Will South Sudan learn from the 50 to 60 years of experience of
post-independence Africa, where the nation state model is under assault in
significant part of the continent? The factional violence that is already
evident is a worrying sign. This potential issue of further fragmentation in
the south may have been behind the late John Garang's conviction of a new
Sudan within the context of unity. The role of regional actors (Egypt,
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda and Israel), to try to use Southern Sudan
as a proxy by supporting different factions is another potential
For a successful divorce between north and south Sudan to occur, there are
still many sticking points:
– Division of oil revenues: Where will the oil-rich Abyei region end up--in
the north or the south? Or can some formula be found where both south and
north can share revenue and ownership? This is crucial to resolve because
the southern Sudan constitution has included Abyei as part of Sudan to which
Al Bashir is reacting by threatening to withdraw his recognition of the
referendum results. Perhaps, Al Bashir is recalculating his position in
light of new developments in the region with the Arab Spring. The
reconfiguration of alliances is still to be determined and the dictators in
the region are very worried for their survival.
– What currency will an independent south Sudan adopt? How will this affect
– Water security (the issue of Jonglei canal and the Nile has regional
dimensions). Upstream countries Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania
and Uganda recently signed an agreement to try to reverse Nile water
sharing, currently regulated by two 1929 and 1959 deals. The emergence of
south Sudan as a potential ally for this group is of concern for Egypt.
– The demarcation of the border.
These are among the issues which require urgent attention for an amicable
Another important issue is the rights of citizens across the border of the
two countries and the migrants. Here, the vulnerability of Ethiopians of
Eritrean ancestry during the 1998-2000 war between the two countries
provides a useful lesson. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Eritreans who lived
in Ethiopia for over half a century and others who were born and raised in
Ethiopia and never set foot in Eritrea were maltreated and deported after
being stripped of all their possessions. To avoid tragic consequences, they
should be granted citizenship in both states as Mamdani suggests.
Internally, South Sudan should strive for ‘territorial federalism’ with
genuine democratic power sharing in order to avoid the possible degeneration
to personal rule and authoritarianism.
The disarmament of rival militias in south Sudan giving way to a national
army is of utmost importance if we are to prevent a UNITA versus MPLA or a
Renamo versus FRELIMO type debilitating civil war.
Professor Mamdani, thank you for your enlightening and timely article!
BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS
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