By Ahmed Elzobier
July 13, 2011 – In the north, following the declaration of southern Sudan independence, one group appears to be happy and they are the supporters of northern Sudan’s separatist party, the Just Peace Forum. Nevertheless, most northern Sudanese are subdued and sad for various reasons. Some see the secession as a destruction of the country but they are helpless to do any thing about it. Other groups have mixed feeling of joy and sadness. Joy that southern Sudanese people have their freedom, and sadness for the great failure of Sudanese nationalism as it loses what has been an important part of its national character for hundreds of years.
The prominent Sudanese poet Mahjoub Sharif has expressed heartfelt emotions of sadness in a new poem he calls “The trees have passed”.
The trees have passed
Like imaginary dreams
Nice and gentle people
Through shades and clouds
The trees have passed
Where are you my dears?
It’s a painful scene for me
Where are you going?
Mary I will miss you
I am shedding tears
Yet we are citizens by our marks
In drawing we are neighbors
The trees have passed
People started to realize the new reality when the Ministry of Information and the Survey Department revealed in a press conference on 4 July, that Sudan has lost, as a result of the separation, about 25% of its area, 80% of its forests, 75% of its oil and 20% of its population. Abdallah al-Sadig, Director of the Survey Department said Sudan will now have no borders with Kenya, Congo and Uganda and its borders with Ethiopia and Central African Republic will be significantly reduced.
But to rub salt into the wound he described the new map to the helpless northern Sudanese folk as a “beautiful” map. The Minister of Information Dr Kamal (and by the way this the same guy who told southern Sudanese back in October 2010 that they would not receive injections after separation) also added that the government presented an exceptional example of peaceful coexistence and integration in Africa – I am not sure, but either these two people are professional comedians pretending to be politicians, or sadistic psychopaths. The question remains, how many beautiful maps and integration strategies they will be presenting in the future?
Meanwhile, in clear violation of the Human Rights Declaration article 15, “everyone has a right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”, the Council of Ministers approved, on 7 July 2011, a new Sudanese nationality bill rendering hundreds of thousand of southerners temporarily stateless. It was not clear if the bill was even discussed in parliament. This was done despite these southerners being habitually resident in the North and many having no connection with the South. Dr Amin Maki Madani, a prominent lawyer and the Director of the Human Rights Monitor Organization in Sudan, considers the government act to be unconstitutional as it violates the nationality laws of Sudan, and an immoral act resembling Nazism. Meanwhile, all government institutions have sacked their southern employees and government adverts in various newspapers are calling for private sector companies to provide a list of their southern employees. Last month the SPLM /NCP agreed to give a period of nine months for southern Sudanese in the north to adjust their status, a very vague statement having nothing to do with the AU High panel proposal. However, in reality the NCP is adamant that southern Sudanese will be treated as foreigners after 9 July. The entire government attitude is vindictive and mean, and their soft target is ordinary people from southern Sudan. This time they have really sunk very low, even by the traditional sudanese standards. It shows that northern Sudan is now infected by a serious ethno-fascism virus that might destroy the remainder of the country.
For a reality check we should consider all the factors leading to the current situation in Sudan: slavery raids and trade in the nineteen century; the close district laws during the colonial period; the 1947 Juba conference and the hasty decision on the unity of Sudan; the 1953 consideration of Sudan’s status without consulting southern Sudanese; the Torit rebellion in 1955; the promise of federation that was never fulfilled by the first post-colonial government; the war that was waged to Islamize and Arabise southern Sudan by 1958’s military regime; the unfulfilled promises of the round table conference of 1965; the Addis Ababa agreement 1972; the violation and collapse of the agreement in 1983; the reluctance to achieve peace in 1988; the rise of Islamic extremism in Sudan; the military coup in 1989 that has sealed the fate of the country and whose main objective was to stand against the peace initiative; the declaration of Jihad on southern Sudan; the proxy wars; the displacement and killing of millions of people; the indifference of the majority in the north about the war in the south; the 2005 CPA; the unfulfilled promises of the CPA, the unresolved issues of extreme poverty, inequality, disrespect of religion and cultural diversity, and lack of democracy.
Combine all these ingredients and it becomes clear why the southern Sudanese were left with no option but to abandon the sinking ship of Sudan and on 9 January 2011, to vote overwhelmingly for separation.