NCP should be addressing future co-existence between independent South and North Sudans

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Published on Friday, 04 September 2009 03:46
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Manyok Biar

(Texas, USA) - The former Prime Minister of Sudan and the current leader of Umma party, Sadiq al-Mahdi, during his arrival in Juba on Thursday to "partake in the upcoming Juba Conference convened by the SPLM to host all Sudan political parties to discuss the implementation of the CPA in the remaining years of the interim period” as reported by New Sudan Vision.

Mr. Al-Mahdi seems to have good understanding of what would be good for North Sudan after 2011 when he said this: "We are going to discuss the terms of co-existence, if our brothers and sisters in the south opt for independence, what will be the special, fraternal relationship between our two successor states."

The point of co-existence is what the National Congress Party (NCP) led government needs to work for at this time because unity is too late to be made attractive in Sudan. NCP is now growing more hostilities between the North and the South by showing that Northerners are not willing to listen to Southerners in 2011.

Mr. Al-Mahdi understands the disadvantages of politicizing the referendum as he puts it, "It is going to be counter-productive in the national interest if we play politics with self-determination.”

NCP and its supporters against self-determination of Southerners do not know that a mistrust that has taken the lives of millions of people over a long period of time cannot be solved by opinions of the few who lack understanding of the feeling of majority in South Sudan.

It is easy to say that "It is very important to have that [Sudan] country united," as European Union (EU)’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in Cairo recently, but it is not easy to live through that unity. One needs to pause and ask himself or herself why South Sudanese want separation.

Mr. Solana has a reason for his concern as he puts it: "I do look at the map, I do look at the distribution of resources, I do look at the situation... I am for the unity of the country."

What Mr. Solana never considered before his comment is why South Sudan remains as one of the least developed places in the world for decades if there was distribution of resources in Sudan. Is the distribution of resources only good for Northerners and not for Southerners? What are the strategies put in place by European Union to guarantee fair distribution of resources if Southerners vote for unity in 2011?

If these questions are not addressed in a practical way, then Southerners will still vote for separation despite the opposition to separation by anybody. The North will not stop Southerners from seceding unless there are clear changes in the current Sudanese system before 2011.

If Southerners will not be stopped from seceding, then the only way that North Sudan would benefit from the South is to develop strategies for relationship between the North and the South after 2011, if Southerners choose secession.

The starting point of future relationship between the future two nations is respect for the choice of Southerners in 2011, whether they want to remain in the united Sudan or secede.

The second strategy is to discuss how business will run between the North and the South after 2011. The market in the South will still need Northern business people, no doubt about that. The North has a port and the South does not have. That means the South can use Port Sudan as a connection to the outside world and pay a lot of taxes to Northern Sudan government.

The current pipeline for oil is another thing that the North can take advantage of during discussions about future relationship between the North and the South. Since it is going to be expensive to build a pipeline to another port of South Sudan’s neighboring countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Eritrea, or Djibouti, South Sudan can still use the current pipeline to Port Sudan in the North and pays taxes to the North.

These, among other things about future relationship between the North and the South, should be what NCP consider as important, instead of thinking that they will trick the South into unreasonable unity. NCP needs to learn from Mr. Al-Mahdi.

*Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He is a regular contributor to www.newsudanvision.com. For comments, contact him at email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.