Now, the political scene is at a juncture of reckoning, reaping the consequences of 20 years NIF ‘revolution’ and 20 years civil war. The confrontation that was supposed to be stream-lined and facilitated by CPA arrangements, denied at times and delayed at other, in the guise of a ‘democratic transformation’ is ultimately taking shape, however not across the lines once expected, appearances notwithstanding.
In brief, the CPA was an attempt at restructuring the Sudanese state via a political bargain that both ends the civil war by means of self-determination for South Sudan and provides an exit from the NIF dictatorship through democratic means creating a ‘legitimate’ vote supported government entrusted with making unity attractive. The driving algorithm of the agreement is inherent in the late John Garang’s solution modalities put forward in his Iowa State University speech 2002, namely the choice between a united secular democratic ‘new’ Sudan, two confederal states, or two separate states, one Black African and one Islamic Arab. These two objectives, resolution of the North-South conflict and democratic rule, have been drifting apart since the debate on the Interim Constitution immediately after signing of the CPA. Today they seem irreconcilable.
Despite the critique that can be made against a rationale that equates between citizenship and ethnopolitical identity it has largely withheld, serving the interests of the power blocs signatory to the CPA. However the arrangement designed to address the Sudan as a whole has boiled down to a convenience tactic for the rulers, fencing off competition at all costs. The NCP wants to maintain and consolidate hegemony over North Sudan even at the cost of ‘losing’ the South. The SPLM, already a ruler of a proto-state in the South, cannot afford to endanger its hard won prize from a 20 years long war, the referendum. Accordingly the two are conjoined in pragmatic convenience, relatively resistant to ‘democratic transformation’.
The decisive factor in the ambiguity of the last few days has been the position of the United States on the question. General Gration has not saved an effort to maintain the status quo established by the agreement, SPLM manages the South and NCP harnesses the North, and no trespassing please! Such is the American design for stability in the Sudan. It may well work out and generate two countries post-referendum. What happens next though is beyond Grationate design.