The events that shaped the Sudan and the world at large in 2011!

Quote: “…….Sudan cannot and will never the same again…….” (Late hero, Dr. John Garang)

By: Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan

March 12, 2012 (SSNA) — If only time could allow one to write in the midst of this highly competitive and business-oriented world, this piece could have been written earlier, either in December of last year or in January this year. But time could not that, owing to a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, I believe it’s never too late and that its better late than never! I hope the title of this piece doesn’t send off my good readers for deep sleep because of the prefix of the “Sudan”. It’s my humble submission that its pertinence is still there; that it’s only the taste that might have been lost in the ocean.

As I mentioned in one of the articles I authored late last year, the year 2011 was a year of mixed events: both good and bad. It first started in early January (2011) with a referendum on self-determination for the people of South Sudan (unfortunately, the people of Abyei were denied this basic right) on the 9th and ended a few days later.  The results were never a matter of speculation but a matter of public knowledge and common sense coupled with one’s own conscience. The writings were quite clear on the wall. The people of South Sudan both at home and across the globe had chosen their future destiny; something which was left to fate by the last one or two generations – not knowing whether this would ever be achieved or made possible under the sun and moon. The result was the overwhelming 99.8 per cent, which voted for independent South Sudan.

The January 9th cannot and would never be forgotten easily in our history because it combines altogether two very crucial events that coincided with each other. The C.P.A, which was the culmination of the independence for South Sudan was inked on 9th January, 2005. Again, another important event in history: the voting to decide the future of South Sudan was finally conducted on January 9th 2011, amidst fear and speculations of a return to civil war between the North and South over what analysts cited as any attempt by the former to delay or push the date forward could have resulted into something undesirable and only the almighty God knew would happen under heaven and earth. On 9th July of the same year, a proclamation of independence was made and the whole world witnessed history being made by South Sudanese people. As a result, Sudan got partitioned into two sovereign states and we bear witness to this, though having shadowy relations as of today. The Obama’s administration and his democratic party deserve a credit if not a medal for their unequivocal stance! So does the Bush administration, who did not only put immense pressure on the parties to the conflict but also nurture the CPA and made sure that its not dishonoured like other agreements!

Elsewhere in North Africa and the middle-east, the wind of change was sweeping so fast that it had gotten rid of those who held onto power for decades and more. It all started in Tunisia when a young man set himself on a framing fire, after he was frustrated by the then leadership of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. That single incident would sooner than later set the stage for what has now been known as “the Arab Spring”. The people of Tunisia went on to the streets in their thousands, demanding the immediate resignation of Ben Ali, a man who ruled for 23 years as president. Within two weeks, the president thought the protests would stop or loss momentum altogether, atlas! It was just gaining momentum every day and the pressure was now becoming unbearable for him: the next thing we were made to understand was that he soon fled the country, headed to Saudi Arabia for exile. That was the end and beginning of everything for him and others.

The next ruler that would be shaken or tossed over by the strong wind was none other Chief Mohammed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. This is a man who ruled Egypt for 32 years with an iron fist and there was no sign of him relinquishing power soon – thanks to the brave Egyptians, who said enough was enough for him and of him! For him and with him came what is now known as the ‘January 26th movement’, that was the first day when demonstrations began. The police and other security forces responded with full force in an attempt to suppress the protesters so that the king could remain seated in his divine throne. At long last, the king or call him tyrant, was finally deposed and fled to sheik el Sham red sea resort after a month of bloodshed.

Then there came the biggest and ground moving event: the start of uprising in Libya where the late leader was running the country more or less like a club or his personal property. The writings on the wall were very clear for late Gaddafi but he chose to ignore them and insisted that the “people loved him” even in the graveyard. He held on for several months until October 20th when he was eventually dethroned in his last stronghold of Sirte and humiliatingly captured and killed by the revolutionary forces. King of kings had reigned in Libya for 42 good years. What was entailed in those 42 years was a matter of common knowledge. The good thing is that we could just write off and forget about what he did while on this earth. Other tyrants may soon face the same predicament in the foreseeable future. Bashar El Assad of Syria is now in the centre of international focus/attention. He is engulfed by rebellion and uprising against him or his regime as he is trying in vain to unleash fear or terror on those who disapprove of his long stay in power. Former Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo was captured and caught the chicken’s way – what savvy analysts called the “hyena’s exit” after refusing to hand over power to his main challenger, Alassane Ouattara, who legitimately won the election. Then on May the 2nd 2011, the leader of the most feared global terrorist organization ‘AL Qaeda’ Osama Bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces under the direct order and command of their C-in-C, President Obama.

And in South Sudan, after almost two years of bloody rebellion against the government, George Athor was no more a threat to the security and peace of the people of South Sudan in general and Jonglei state in particular. He finally met his death on the 19th of December 2011 in Morobo County, Central Equatoria state. Also, Gatluak Gai, a rebel leader in Unity state who took up arms against the government in the aftermath of 2010’s elections, just because the wife of Riek Machar did not become the governor of Unity State (by default), was killed by those believed to be his own associates in July after the hoisting of South Sudan’s flag. In the broader Sudan, Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur was killed in December the 25th, 2011. Khalil Ibrahim (and his movement) will be remembered in history as the only rebel leader to have entered the twin city of Omdurman, Khartoum, in May 2008 and started fighting from within the city; something even the late Garang never did.

Those are some of the major events which made headlines and that shaped the Sudan and the world at large in 2011. We are now in the post-secession-period and dealing with lots of issues between the two supposedly sisterly countries: the republic of South Sudan and the republic of Sudan. The oil shutdown by the government of South Sudan has generated some interesting debates both at home and at the international scenes. It’s one of the dramatic events that shocked some quarters (esp. the hardliners) in the NCP circle; one they never thought would be contemplated by the nascent state of South Sudan. I term this a point of absolute departure from oil dependence. What awaits the 2012 isn’t yet known but we’ll watch closely the events as they unfold. Some we can predict and some we can’t predict or foresee! The quote above from one of our founding fathers speaks for itself!!

The author is a citizen of the Republic of South Sudan. He could be reached for comments at [email protected]

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