A barrage of sentiments has loomed over the Sudanese horizon as a result of the rapidly approaching referenda which will determine the fate of Africa’s largest country.
On January 9th, 2011, the south will vote on whether to stay with the north or break free. Another vote will be on the disputed region of Abyei. The governing body of the south, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement, has publicly declared its support for independence for the first time.
A recent report from the Sudanese government declared that the economy of the north will not be greatly affected in the event that the south secedes. Moreover, officials in the Sudanese government have announced last week the discovery of oil fields in the north. Many believe that this proposition is simply a way to calm down growing worries, while others believe that the situation will be an unquestionably dire one.
In a report by the Christian Science Monitor titled, “Sudan referendum may not lead to war.”, Maggie Fick laments that the international media are only keen on conveying negative events pertaining to the Sudan. She furthermore believes that the referenda will not lead to war as opposed to what many media outlets depict.
Lina Almouiz, a northern Sudanese, believes that secession should take place. “I feel [like] south Sudan is more of a burden to north Sudan…it will never improve. They have been the trouble makers for years now…” She further added that the north should not cling on to the south if it does not wish to remain a part of the north.
“…when somebody feels [that] by signing the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] they gave me something, I will vote for separation, and almost all Southerners will do the same.” said Emmanuel Oliver, a southerner who resides in Juba.
“In the current Sudan, I feel [like] someone else feels they are more naturally Sudanese than me, and when they try to show me that we are equal, it comes across as if they are trying to accommodate me.” Oliver added.
The government in Khartoum, however, is keen on making sure that the north and south stay together. Placards and certain programs on the Sudanese national television channel promote the idea of unity. There are sitcoms and films which have recently been developed in order to promote unity.
On the other side, South Sudan’s national channel does the exact opposite where focus is directed at southern issues. “It is too late for this.” A Sudanese writer who preferred not to be named expressed. He further added that this phenomenon of aimlessly promoting unity is “a monologue.”
Reem Shawkat, a northern journalist working for a southern newspaper published in Khartoum-The Citizen-expressed that most of the content in the newspaper are pro-separation “They use words such as occupation and liberation!” Shawkat added.
Northern newspapers emit eclectic sentiments which are a mix of submissiveness to the current situation and support for secession (only in the event that southerners choose so.)
The Southern Sudan Referendum Act requires that 60 percent of the registered voting population must turn out to vote. In the April General Election, 7 out of 10 states failed to vote. In recent days, about sixty percent of southerners have registered to vote. A study found that the majority of Southerners are opposed to a postponement of the Referendum.
Another issue is the issue of Darfur which is identified as one of the biggest threat to the stability of the Sudan following the southern dilemma. Recent talks between Ghazi Salahuddin Alatabani, Sudanese presidential advisor and head of the Darfur Dossier and Doha are expected to yield a final and binding conclusion to be met with regards to the issue.