My Take: The Week That Was

By Paan Luel Wel (Washington DC, USA)

“Be the change you want to see in the world”—Mahatma Gandhi

October 18, 2010 (SSNA) — Many interesting happenings have occurred over the past weeks that have caught my attention and today warranted my comments. Although the news-sphere is full to the brim with countless items of news, my picks would be restricted to my taste and specifically to those whose relevance is paramount and specific to our cause and future.

In the episodes below, you will find my commentaries about the recent amnesty offered by President Kiir to the Southern Armed Groups; the bleak future of the Northern Economy in the aftermath of Southern Secession as foretold by none other than the Sudanese Finance and National Economic Minister; the blistering attack on President Obama by his erstwhile friend, the Sudanese Presidential adviser; the deadlock over Abyei that is turning it into the Kashmir of the Sudan, and lastly, on the brighter side, an inspirational tale from Unity State where the regional assembly has approved a commitment to provide funding to their student studying abroad.

Juba Conference:  Southern Transitional Government and Election in 2011

The recent decree by President Kiir pardoning armed rebels groups in an amnesty has provided a rare window of opportunity for Southerners to finally take respite from their internal warring and unite to face the common “real’’ adversary. Consequently, in the past days, we saw the coming of Dr. Lam, the leader of the breakaway SPLM-DC, to Juba to meet with Salva Kiir for the first time since their bitter separation when Dr. Lam formed his own party in 2009 in direct challenge to President Kiir’s leadership.

The amnesty too heralded the return of prodigal sons such as the infamous Gabriel Tangginya widely reported to have been behind deadly fighting in Malakal in the past years. Tangginya’s unexpected switching of loyalty came after the defection of another general, Alison Magaya, who is reported to have been a senior officer in the Sudan Army Force (SAF). Not to be left behind the news, General Athor, and possibly Yau Yau, is said to have contacted VP Dr. Machar about the amnesty and the prospects of his safe return into the government.

All these hustle and bustle culminated in the recent Juba conference that recommended the holding of fresh election and a formation of a transitional government in the immediacy of Southern separation from the North. How the power would be shared within the transitional government remains to be seen though.

This is especially the case when the likelihood of rewarding evil would likely result in the rebellion of many more steadfast, loyal SPLM members who might feel sidelined in the creation of rooms for the prodigal sons and daughters. Should that be the case, then South-South dialogue would tragically be a victim of its own successes which would be, unfortunately, a pathetic situation.

For Salva Kiir to have conceded so much in the quest for a unity of purpose and wills among Southern leaders, he must be convinced that the South would be better off with Southern prodigal sons within the system where they can be monitored than leaving them at the whims of the enemy that can turn them against their own mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and children.

——in the event of Southern Secession

There would be a great economic turmoil in Northern Sudan in case the South Secede on January 9, 2011. In a recent interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Sudan’s finance and national economy minister, Mr Ali Mahmood Abdel-Rasool, darkly warned of the bleak future of Northern Sudan’s economic prospect. Mr Ali called for “tough austerity measures” because the north will definitely lose over 70% of known oil reserves and about 50% of oil revenue in the event of Southern Secession.

For the Southerners, however, there is little to celebrate in the miseries of our Northern nemesis for we are mired down in our own dilemma. Though approximately 75% of Sudan proven reserves of oil is geographically located in the South, pipelines, export terminals and national refineries are all station in the North. If future South Sudan has to mine and export its oil in order to get oil revenue, it has no choice but to deal with the North which offer those facilities with which to mine, transport and export its “gold.”

Another important fact to note about the minister frank admission is that his call came against the backdrop of the recent relentless depreciation of the Sudanese Pound against the US dollar. Known economic rule of the thump have been tried but all seem to be in vain as the Pound continue its unstoppable decline till now.

All in all, the most important fact is that the North is slowly but surely coming to term with the realities on the ground: the inevitability of Southern Secession and its nasty aftermath on them. Rather than dwelling on the ‘if” of the matter, it would be quintessential for the ruling elites to spend ample time on the “when” and “how” of the dreaded hour.

The Duel: President Obama Vs Mustafa Osman Ismail

The recent undisguised railings at the US president by an adviser to the Sudanese President, Mr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, point to a potent shift of policy within the Obama’s administration. Since his ascension to the helm of power in 2009, President Obama has been bogged down in his foreign policy whose centerpiece was the resetting of tone with the Muslim World, Sudan included.

As a result, Mr Obama, who was publicly pro-Darfur and, by all indications pro-South, during his spirited campaign for the US presidency, has been courting the Khartoumers since day one of his presidency. Not surprisingly, his special envoy to Sudan, Mr Gration, was/is highly hated by Southerners for his pro-NCP leanings and utterances. Under President Obama, the CIA and the national intelligent officers of President Omar El-Bashir have been comfortably collaborating on the so called war on terror.

With the exception of certain officials within the Obama’s administration such as the US ambassador to the UN, Ms Susan Rice, Darfurians and Southerners were almost entirely left in the biting cold of the political wilderness.

As of late, we have been treated to a different turn of events with President Obama talking about making Southern referendum a “priority” and the Sudanese presidential adviser censuring him for allegedly succumbing to the pressure of the Pro-Israel lobby groups that are supposedly supporting Southern Secession.

Although there is little truth in that allegation of an Israeli hand in Southern Sudan quest for independence, there is obviously a substantial backing from the Black Caucus in the US Congress and from the Evangelical Christians in the USA. Those names, however, were omitted and Israel was picked as a propaganda tool as it is usually the case in the Arab-Islamic world.

Israel, in the eyes of the Arabic Media, is synonymous with the devil itself. Yet, none of their 23 nations has, or will likely, achieve the same enviable feat as Israel did—might, brain, technology, good governance and what have you—in the foreseeable future.

This is good news for us, at least if President Obama would give a “red light” to Khartoum that their irrationality won’t be condoned and entertained by the international community. And to squarely drive home that point, there would be no better dramatic way for President Obama to do that than pressing for the imposition of a UN-backed No-fly Zone along the North-South borderline.

Abyei: the Kashmir of the Sudan

With the negotiation grinding into a halt over Abyei in the past days, the SPLM has called on the international community to come to the rescue of the situation. The impasse threatens to bloom into a full blown conflict that might engulf the whole region before the conduct of the scheduled plebiscite in the South. Used to an SPLM known to easily throwing in the towel in almost all the prior negotiations over various contested issues, the NCP is pressing ahead uncompromisingly for the inclusion of the Missiriya in the referendum vote.

According to the SPLM SG, Mr. Pagan Amum, the Minister of Peace and CPA implementation who headed the SPLM delegation to the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa where the latest talk was held, the NCP’s demand has no direct reference to the CPA. Alarmingly, that hasn’t stopped the NCP and their surrogates from flexing their muscles in the imposition their wills contrary to the peace accord.

By all indications, Abyei is sadly turning out to be the future centre of conflict between the South and the North: the Kashmir of the Sudan. The presence of oil will only exacerbate the matters further.

Modeling the future: Unity State’s Consensus

The news of the regional assembly of Unity State committing themselves to state funding of students to study abroad is a milestone event in the history of our land. For politicians all over the world, the only universal denominator they got is their selfishness, love of power, devotion to money, and damning corruption.   In poverty stricken part of the world as Southern Sudan is, that is the expected norm as Jubans can testify.

For our dear politicians to even think about this new development is an unprecedented and praiseworthy undertaking. Questions might abound over how the said students will be selected, particularly as far as nepotism is concerned but that is an afterthought, minor concern. Brains that came up with such a fantastic novel idea have my full benefit of the doubt.

Belated congratulations to the Unity State council of Ministers! Let’s hope others will not only see and hear about you but actually take some concrete steps to emulate you guys. In the immortal words of the Indian sage, Mahatma Gandhi, let’s make the Southern Sudan we want to live in tomorrow by committing ourselves today to be the change that will bring it about.

Breaking news——-

In an appeal case submitted to the Sudan Constitutional Court by the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Mohamed, a member of the Egyptian People Council, the Sudanese Constitutional Court accepted the appeal to cancel the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan.

Mr. Mohamed challenge the constitutionality of the CPA arguing that it is legally invalid and therefore should be annulled before it causes more troubles for Sudan. He further claimed that South Sudan would become a safe haven for Israeli agents to terrorize Africa and the Arab world, and consequently, to usher in second Western domination of the continent.

The prescription, according to the Mayor, is the immediate nullification of the CPA.

Mr Paan Luel Wel, a concerned Sudanese student studying in the United States, can be reached at [email protected] or through his blog:

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