Should South Sudan be buying its freedom from the North?

By Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD

September 13, 2010 (SSNA) — Of a special interest is the fact that President Barack Obama will join United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and representatives of the African Union, World Bank and other organizations for a September the 24th summit meeting on the Southern Sudan referendum in New York, as declared by Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the UN.

Obama “sees this as a very important vehicle for focusing international attention” on preparations for the referendum and implementation of its results, including decisions on border demarcation, Rice said.

However with only four months to go for the south Sudan referendum everything about the future of the country continues remains bleak. This pessimism is nowhere much expressed than in the US state secretary’s speech when she put it in a nutshell that despite all that the US and the international community are doing for the Sudan to have a timely referendum, there still exists a real threat of renewal to the south north war unless the north is won-over to peacefully accept the inevitable secession of the South.

Many may still have their say, but the reality on the ground attests to a fact that the anticipated referendum has been hijacked by party politics, while it should have been left for the south Sudanese grass roots to decide which way to go. The great danger today lies in the NCP’s intentional misinterpretation of the referendum bill, thus making it the regimes tool to   maintain a unity which otherwise has become unpopular to the southern electorates who are overwhelmingly expected to vote for secession.

The politicians have several times failed the Sudanese people as witnessed by the five decades of warfare and the loss of more than two million lives. The people at all levels remain concerned that too short a time is left for the management of this potentially explosive plebiscite. On the other hand it is clear that the northern NCP is busy looking for ways to manipulate or right away derail the entire process.

The dominant NIF/NCP of president al Bashir is intentionally making everything appear difficult if not impossible, but of course in line with their declared policies. The members of a commission to organize the referendum were only announced in late June 2010, and its secretary-general appointed last week, after months of wrangling between northern and southern leaders. All these are bad omens, not to mention that the situation in the contested Oil-rich area of Abyei has altogether reverted to the pre-CPA era, with Khartoum resettling new Baggara Arab nomads in the territory ahead of the referendum.

Secretary Clinton who appears to play the role of a gap Bridger, declared in her address to the US Council on Foreign Relations think tank that it was "inevitable" southerners would vote for secession and that Washington, together with international partners, needed to work out ways to persuade the north to accept that result peacefully.

“The [north-south] situation is a ticking time bomb of enormous consequence," Clinton said.

"The south is not quite capable of summoning the resources to do [the referendum], and the north has been preoccupied and is not inclined to do it, because it’s pretty clear what the outcome will be."

“If you’re in the North, and all of a sudden you think a line’s going to be drawn and you’re going to lose 80 percent of the oil revenues, you’re not a very enthusiastic participant” in the division of the  country” Clinton told her audience.

“What are the deals that can possibly be made that will limit the potential of violence?” she asked. “The South needs “to recognize that unless they want more years of warfare and no chance to build their own new state, they’ve got to make some accommodations with the north as well,” Clinton said.

Secretary Clinton is entitled to her opinion when she suggested that the South continues to split its Oil with the North as a panacea to avoid a possible return to war, or rather still win a peaceful recognition from the colonialists of the hostile North, however having that said I insist that all the responses that came from Khartoum should be taken into account and seriously. The NIF/NCP regime has now gone public to disapprove of the US policies on the Sudan in its totality. Two senior party officials have already slammed the US State Secretary over her comments.

In a tone typically of the Islamist fanatic institutions world-wide, the NIF/NCP have come out to tell the US administration that they really don’t care about what Secretary Clinton refers to a "ticking time-bomb” in the Sudan. After all what is a “ticking time-bomb” to a terrorist or a professional suicide bombers indoctrinator, which the NIF/NCP are.

"We do not need any incentives or temptations from the US, Europe or France … There is no need to accept any interference," said Abdelati the top NIF/NCP official.

"We are working to achieve unity up to the last moment. We don’t think secession is inevitable," a senior NCP official,   Rabie Abdelati said. "Everything is going very smoothly. We don’t see any sign that there will be a problem between the north and the south, that there will be war." He added.

In his own delusional state of mind, Abdelati even never hesitated to tell the Reuters and I quote:  “most southerners are in fact in favour of unity with the North, but their voices are being drowned out by a few separatist leaders from the south’s former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)”. To confirm that Abdelati is not alone in his criticism of secretary Clinton, he was immediately joined by Sudan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the hard-line Islamist, Ali Karti who was cited by Sudan official news agency (SUNA) as saying that Clinton’s remarks were intended to give the impression that there are major problems in the Sudan. He further commented by saying that the U.S. top diplomat is exaggerating and attempting to portray the situation incorrectly.

"The U.S. Secretary of State if she visited Sudan and listened to the various parties she would have not said what she said and her forecast of events is not true," he said.

One head of   the few Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Missions in the western hemisphere was on the other hand quoted by the media when he said: “We would really like to send a signal to the world that we are willing to negotiate with the North and open to any discussion on sharing of Oil revenues,” the GoSS diplomatic said per the media. And he went on to add and I quote again: “It is not in our interest to see the north failing,” he said. “It should also be in the interests of the North to see us be viable.”

Going by the above statements which in fact can be traced back to several other senior SPLM, one is tempted to consider it as an official party line.

But truly I must confess here that I not only fail to understand the point that the SPLM senior officials are trying to make in portraying to the world stage that south Sudan is indeed keen to see a strong north at the expense of its citizens who continue to languish in destitution in their millions and I don’t even agree that the content is in any way    sensible.  This North which some of us think deserves the South’s  sacrifice in order to continue to thrive while the South itself  only barely survives,  these people must be made to re-count and accept that the north had witnessed huge development even before  the much talked about South’s Oil revenues. They have the Gezira Agricultural Scheme the largest of its kind in Africa together with the gigantic Kenana Sugar Factory and many others, so how does brother in the SPLM expect us to protect the North economically when we don’t even have clean water within our towns let alone our people who over 99% live at subhuman levels in the jungles and swamps of the improvised south Sudan.

Or can any one of these modern days philosophers attest to us why Sudan’s foreign debts now stand at the astronomical figure of 37.8 billion US dollars while there virtually exist nothing in the whole South to justify its share in this debt.

To push all the political incompatibilities that soared up between the SPLM and its peace partner, the NCP, as mere differences on Wealth Sharing, is in fact to inappropriately over simplify the current political stalemate in the Sudan. The North is more developed than the South and this is a fact that none can deny. However the NIF/NCP is driven by the so-called “Arabisation and Islamisation” agenda towards South Sudan and Africa beyond. To do this they will not only want to control the South’s recourses, but in fact to use it, land and people as consumables in attaining their holy dreams.

Given the fact that the North is adamant to buy the Southern public opinion into voting for unity, I am forced  to a much extend to disagree with secretary Clinton because I believe that no amount of Oil bribery – call it Oil sharing – will ever win the NCP to the side of peaceful co-existence with the South. They are obsessively greedy, and while Secretary Clinton is suggesting oil spilt to bring them on board, they on their part expect the US administration to play a different role. NIF/NCP wants its “genocide regime” out of USA list of countries sponsoring terrorism so that they can continue their genocide campaigns with total impunity the countrywide.

Nonetheless Clinton’s suggestion that the South continues to pay ransoms to  the north has already provoke resistance from the community of U.S. activists who work on behalf of the Christian South, as highlighted by Stephen Morrison, former director of the Africa program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Southern Sudan has hurdles to overcome, Morrison said”.

“The south has done very little to get itself internally organized. It seems to think that the West and the U.S. in particular is going to rescue them as the situation deteriorates as opposed to making accommodations to the north as of now.” he added.

I hope President Baraka Obama will understand per Abdelati’s statement that the Omer al Bashir regime isn’t asking for incentives, but they are out there to challenge his leadership in the international level.    Although the US administration might want to persuade the northern Arabs into a peaceful recognition of South Sudan’s independence, the fact remains that these Arab fanatics only understand the language of force – obviously not threats or incentives.

It is the wish of the author of this article that the international community acknowledges its short comings in observing the implementation of the agreement in conformity with the wordings and the spirit, before undertaking new obligations towards the holding of the referendum. The people of the Sudan were disappointed by the Obama administration which failed to live up to pre-election rhetoric on the Sudan. The CPA came and will go without ever brining the much expected democratic transformation to a people who badly yearn for it.

However given the sensitivity of the stage we are right in now, we all look forwards to the New York meeting.  The US administration and its counterparts in the international community must realise that it might be their last opportunity to consolidate peace in the region. Should the SPLM and NCP delegates as represented by their top leaderships fail again as they did previously in Washington, then the world must be prepared for a new human misery of an untold magnitude.

Unless South Sudan is to meet the North’s fire by fire, which means building the South’s defensive military capabilities, the destabilization threats from the greedy North will continue to be of concern even if we were to surrender to them our last drop of the Oil. The forth coming meeting should take this into consideration that the North will never ever act or negotiate in good faith unless it is made to understand that its military planes would be brought down not by the US only, but even by the South Sudan military might, should it (North), ever attempt to disturb the South’s air space any time from now. I am afraid that this Oil sharing which Secretary Clinton suggests, if not coupled by a strong and deterring military build up of the southern army, the whole project may turn out to become another blackmailing which will go on and on even to involve other practices.

I seriously dissent any further consensuses before putting an end to the North’s bulling attitudes lest it continue to misinterpret the south’s generosity for weakness. Did the North treat the South any different when it had the 100% control over the South’s Oil before the 2005 peace agreement? The truth be said, when they (the Islamist) had 100% over the Oil, they actually    mistreat the South more. The situation only slightly improved following the 50% -50% Oil spilt that was brought about by the CPA; and it can only get better when the south uses all its wealth to develop itself as rightly should be.   A bully only grows stronger and stubborn when the victim gets softer.

I would prefer that the New York meeting stresses on the timely holding of the referendum, then the issues of the borders to determine where the Oil Fields strictly lie. The Oil relationship between the South and the North should be strictly business and limited to how the Independent South will continue to use the pipelines that pass through the northern territory to the northern port of Port Sudan, all entirely on rental basis, until such a time that the East African pipelines are ready to alternatively transport south Sudan’s Oil through Kenya to the world market.

But still my question is why does Secretary Clinton want South Sudan to buy its recognition from the colonial North? Is this not akin to the days when slaves were made to pay their masters in return for freedom?

The author of this article: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MB BCh DRH MD is a concerned South Sudanese citizen residing in the United Kingdom. He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]

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