“Egypt should be better off abiding by the CPA, and accept the outcome of the 2011 referendum, if it really wants to remain a friend to the people of south Sudan.”
By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
March 3, 2010 (SSNA) — Sincerely speaking I thought the south Sudanese are already finished with this tenacious issue of the Islamic Shari’a Law in the Sudanese politics and its relationship to the unity of the country from the time the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in Naivasha, Kenya in 2005. And it all came to me just as a surprise that the peace partners of the NCP and SPLM are still negotiating this good for nothing topic.
It can be recalled that , of all the countries in the world it was Egypt and Libya who came up with a joint initiative in the early 2000 to block the inclusion of the self determination clause from appearing in the north/south Sudan peace agreement. These two countries were drawn into this obstructive position by their misplaced uneasiness that such an agreement would the pave way for an independent state in south Sudan to which they hold a great deal of distrust.
But because the US administration under former president George W Bush knew exactly that south Sudan can never remain to be an integral part of a united Sudan without reverting to war, so it chose to undermine the joint Egyptian-Libyan Initiative and rather concentrated on the IGAD forum and its chief negotiator retired General Lazarus Sumbeiywo.
The religious dimension to the Sudanese problem that remains as an obstacle between the majority Islamic north and the Christian and animist south is in many ways a blessing in disguise. Though it was intentionally added by the Islamist elites of northern Sudan in line with their declared Islamic agenda of Islamizing the African continent from Alexandria to Cape Town and from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, however it has become a God given barrier to protect south Sudan from being unconsciously pulled into the abyss of Arabisation and Islamisation.
Rightly so to Khartoum Islamists’ disappointment, this improperly sought policy will come to haunt them and their Arab allies worldwide as this policy to its best, only made any peaceful co-existence between the south and the north impossible to achieve. This double edged- sword was first put to use by the Islamic fundamentalist advisors of the late president Jaafar Nimeiri when they successfully coerced him into decreeing the Islamic Shari’a Law in 1983 that came to be known as the infamous September Laws.
The latest attempts by the Egyptian government to re-start discussions on how to maintain the Sudan as a united country is bound not go well with the majority disadvantaged south Sudanese masses. As per the CPA, the choice of whether the Sudan remains one or becomes two separate states entirely depends on the decision to be reached at by the south Sudanese electorates in the self-determination referendum scheduled for 9th January 2011. However the central issue as whether the option of a united Sudan does ever appeal to the southerners is a conclusion that is only objectively done through the promised plebiscite and never otherwise without risking the current peace.
Furthermore it would sound rather naive should any political circles be them local of foreign if they instead of working for the full implementation of the remaining articles of the CPA, something that for sure can sustain the signed peace than wasting the few remaining valuable months in attempts to salvage a less appealing unity, a move that is obviously unrewarding by all standards.
Comrade Pagan Amum the Secretary General of south’s dominant party, the Sudan People’s Liberation movement Khartoum (SPLM) and Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie of the National Congress Party (NCP), of Khartoum’s Islamist regime being chaired by President Omer al Bashir are to be applauded for their positions on the calls of the Egyptian government when it decided to engage the two in yet another round of fruitless discussion over the future of Unity and Shari’a Law in the Sudan.
The Sudanese Undersecretary of Foreign affairs Mutrif Sideeg and member of the NCP delegation said that this position is not negotiable.
“We will not abandon our Shari’a nor do we call on the others to accept what they do not accept. We accepted the principle that citizenship is the basis of rights and duties, and we have accepted the principle of unity in diversity, and therefore will not commit others to what we are committed to. We do not accept that the others void our personality, religion and identity under any circumstances,” he said.
The above position of the NCP and quite so shared by most northern Sudanese Muslims is not anything new. Even going to the depths of the phrases, it is clear that the Islamic regime in Khartoum is more bent towards the establishment of an Islamic nation in the Sudan, more than ever bringing up the issue to a broader discussion given the undeniable fact that this fundamentalists are never ever keen to engage in any issues that make their view of the Islamic faith a topic for discussion.
On the other hand it remains true that the major Northern opposition parties in Sudan are supportive of the Islamic Law implementation although with minor varying views on modalities. The Umma party and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with hegemony over two major religious sects will find it hard to publicly support a secular state so as not to be at odds with their bases.
The Umma party leader Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi has consistently said that Islamic law can be implemented within the context of granting all citizens equal rights regardless of their religious background. Yet this is short of the secular state the SPLM has persistently stood by, in their promotional bit to bring about their vision of the New Sudan.
However should the south Sudanese at large give themselves the time it needs, they will find in Dr. Mutrif’s loaded statement, a lot of inspiration for secession, be that through the ballot box or otherwise. Our reply message to this diplomat and his type should be in the most practical, an unambiguous and an unequivocal way.
We must be seen working and preaching day and night for our Independent South Sudan State because down inside us, all know that the call for ‘the voluntary unity’ is no different to a voluntary walk into a calculated hell. We know who the north is, and what the Shari’a is and how it operates. Please count us out!
However it is very fundamental for this argument that the real source of the Sudanese national problem, which I would prefer to refer to as the “Southern Sudan Problem”, is taken within its traditional context that dates back to 1947, when it was decided by the colonialist in the interest of the northern Arabs to annex south Sudan into this incompatible relationship and anomalous union with the north.
The Sudanese nationalism, as it developed after World War I, was an Arab and Muslim phenomenon with its support base in the Northern provinces. Nationalists opposed indirect rule and advocated a centralized national government in Khartoum responsible for both regions. Nationalists also perceived Britain’s southern policy as artificially dividing Sudan and preventing its unification under an arabized and Islamic ruling class.
Whatever followed from there up to the declaration of the Sudan as an independent united country, incorporating both the north and the south under one sovereignty was all works of conspiracy, where the British, the Egyptians and the northern Sudanese Arabs took part, and eventually decided the fate of the people of south Sudan as if it were a no man’s land and never ever fit for any right to self-determination. Maybe because we are too black for that, but yet as human beings we remain entitled to our human rights and our right to exist in an independent country of our own, separate from both the northern Sudan and Egypt.
The People of south Sudan have no grudges against anybody over their lack of development should they be allowed to exercise their rights to exist in their own right as a people with an independent nation, living side by side with others in a peaceful and symbiotic fraternity.
The Egyptian government can be seen to have got it all wrong, otherwise it should be concentrating on building the necessary bridges that can sustain future friendship between it and the people of an independent south Sudan state, come 2011, instead of wasting its efforts on trying to preserve a unity that has since its conception, suffered ill health as a result of undue manipulations and inborn anomalies. And even under the current settings it continues to suffer from a wide range of distrust and in no any way can such an ill intended relationship ever flourish to the satisfaction of anybody.
A point to reconsider here is that, whoever is called upon to represent the people of south Sudan in any future talks, they should be able to articulate to the Egyptian government and its people that, the Sudanese politics as bound by the CPA it can only resolve the issue of unity or two states through a plebiscite in 2011. No politicking at these late stages of the truce will ever add any positive impacts on the already made up choice of the people when we are only left with a few months to go.
This statement as uttered by President Salvatore Kiir Mayardit, June, 2008 when speaking to an Egyptian delegation.
“Unity of Sudan is the basic option for all the South Sudanese in their different components. The political cooperation between North and South ….as well as support of Egypt and Arab countries, would make unity attractive in South.”
The above statement is now obsolete and can become more so when we get to January 2011. This is also true of the speaker himself and what the future holds for him.
We hope that any future meetings between the CPA partners from the NCP and the SPLM wherever the forum is should be better utilized for discussing the timely implementation of the remaining items on the CPA shopping list. Taking the Sudanese people aback in order to re-negotiate the CPA, by ruminating on the Shari’a Law, and issues like making unity attractive …etc would frankly be a sort of an irrelevant engagement and an off point diplomacy from our Egyptian friends or any others for that matter.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. King Jr. Martin Luther
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. The Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The Party that stands for the Independence of South Sudan. He can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected]. All the articles of the author are available at www.nilebuffalo.com and blog http//ussp-news.blogspot.com