Speaking on Monday before the legislative council of Khartoum state, the fulcrum of the power and pleasure, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, the smooth talking Vice President, blasted the doomsday scenarios of the referendum on the future of South Sudan and its consequences, a commendable strategy regarding the tirades of war-mongering all around. The eloquent politician on a more subtle note though watered down the implications of South Sudan’ secession as if it were another of many administrative redesigns his government is so fond of experimenting with. He fuzzily remarked that the referendum and its aftermath will not affect the overall policy of the state despite its negative reverberations on public life. He further promised, on a more melodramatic tenor, that even if the government loses this round for unity it will persevere to win the coming ones! The Vice President somehow promised that the country will emerge more strong, stable and secure after 9th January. Peppering it up a little the man in charge added if the outcome is unity we thank God and if not then it is God’s will and so He has deemed’.
Now despite agreement with the need to rescue public opinion from exactly the war-mongering cries of many in the NCP and the utter Sudan gloom prevalent in international reporting on the country the Vice President got all the rest terribly wrong.
The extreme of war is not the ruler with which to measure Sudan’s partition. Phrasing it so Taha is but spinning false options to a nation whose self-consciousness his wreck politics have painfully perturbed. The options are not war or partition, this pair is but a minimalist baseline beyond which Sudan’s current rulers cannot deliver, but it is certainly not the maxim of state-building. In other words it is a re-articulation of al-Intibaha’s dogma according to which a North Sudan where NIF self-gratifications are well served is commendable to a unified Sudan where they are compromised, or in straight terms Nafie’s famous quote “Pagan Amum’ secession is better than Garang’s unity”.
If we put war out of the calculus, a failure of politics by all means, the consequences of Sudan’s partition into two states are way too grave, and the NCP’s responsibility much too damning, to be reduced to an administrative-economic misgiving. What Sudan is surrendering to here is the colonial design of the country into races, and what it is surrendering is its attempts, failure-ridden and misguided in most cases, but enlightened and promising in others, at imagining a polity free from the shackles of its colonial heritage. In undoing the Sudan as a state the partners to the CPA are taking the easiest of routes, mere management. True politics would imply some of the ideas Luka Biong suggested in a forum organised by al-Ray al-Aam a few days back and published Tuesday. Biong suggested a generous fix to the citizenship dilemma by providing Southerners in the North and vice versa the freedom and the time to choose which of the two countries they want to belong to, an idea NCP’s Mandoor al-Mahdi hurriedly brushed off as unqualified. Taking Biong’s argument to an ultimate conclusion, what about trusting the humble subjects of this geography with the freedom and the time to decide what country they want to live in?