The tide of ‘making unity attractive’ is gaining momentum in the planning schedules of the NCP. Particularly state-controlled media are taking the matter pretty seriously in a fanfare of cultural celebration, an attempt at better ‘representation’ of the South on the national radar. The logic behind the outburst of Southern adoration, I suppose, is to convince a Northern constituency - not Southerners - that the NCP had done its best, and can on no account be held responsible for driving the country into separation. The rationale of secession from the Southern perspective is a different domain of argument altogether.
NCP propaganda in that regard is twofold but not ambivalent. The NCP has long promoted the notion of qualified divorce from the South through its associate newspaper al Intibaha, and in general through tirades of anti-South sentiment that link back to the Jihad years in the 1990s. Recently, and in the eye of public indignation at the nearing prospect of ‘losing’ the South, largely from the perspective of ‘integrity’ nationalism, the NCP is investing in a face-saving campaign designed to satisfy Northern expectations rather than genuinely address the calamities of referendum and its consequences in any concrete fashion.
Yet more significant is the largely ‘unknown’ position of the army in this question. ‘Opposition’ wisdom has it that the army does not constitute an organic entity anymore, secondary to the waves of NIF indoctrination and selective NCPness based recruitment. Nevertheless, it would be a considerable understatement to deny the army any degree of autonomy at all, I mean from the machinations of the NCP.
Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) constitute an institution ever proud in its ‘modern’ and ‘organised’ nature in contradistinction to what it considers ‘messy’ civilian politics uninformed by the imperatives of strategic national security. In gross, it bears an ideology akin to Nasserite visions of national creed and land integrity, particularly amongst its higher ranks. Even Bashir is largely a product of this institutional ‘culture’. In times of dire need, as was the case during the confrontation with Turabi and Co in 1999, it was the army that backed the president against the shrewd politics of the akhwan. The ‘actual’ opinion of President Bashir on the question of secession/unity remains elusive; this may not at all be that significant. What is significant though is the position of his bottom-line constituency, the army generals he still reshuffles with apparent ease.
A final point, considering the divorce of the South an immediate gap emerges in the self-conception of SAF, dedicated essentially to the forceful, or paranoid, maintenance of the South in Khartoum’s orbit, or rather Cairo’s, whatever way you wish to interpret it.