The voting exercise is over. Bashir is the 68% all Sudan president, and Salva Kiir is the 93% president of the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan, i.e. the two big men preserve total power with a ‘democratic’ topping.
The American press is merrily jingling with the prospects of divorce, imagining scenarios of possible conflict and a probable oil war. The General, Gration, has already presented his default argument conceding that the election was flawed, nevertheless one that sets the stage for political transformation, further stating that the US should focus its attention on getting Southern Sudan ready for independence. According to press reports Khartoum intends to question the General on his remarks regarding the election (al Sahafa, 02.05.10). Apparently the General’s bid is secession of the South and emergence of a new NGO run state which the US is ready to deliver into being.
Public opinion is somehow singing in unison the inevitability of secession, a conclusion resting on the notion of un-attractive unity. However considerations of power may prompt the two ‘big men’ to seriously think otherwise. It seems the two are locked in an ‘arranged marriage’ whereby both can eat the cake and keep it at the same time in case they opt for preservation of the status quo. The oil between the two may well prove to be the necessary glue/grease combination to maintain a complex dual patronage network that is otherwise prone to collapse. Signs of such fractionation became apparent during the elections and in their current aftermath. In the North the Vice President of the NCP, Nafie Ali Nafie, had to threaten local party strongmen in the most violent language to maintain candidacy discipline and prevent an explosion of ‘independents’ from NCP ranks during the run up to the elections. In the South such composure was not readily available and management of post-election dissatisfaction has taken on a military turn.
The dissociation of North from South is a much more intricate procedure than imagined by the American General. He may be looking forward to announcing an independent Southern Sudan next year, but what if Southern Sudan is not, particularly more so that the US has granted the ‘big men’ just the exercise they needed, and stamped their results ‘valid’. The lesson that both have learnt well is that an election is possible without an election. They will be sure to apply the same to the referendum.