The NCP secretary for Southern affairs Gabriel Rorej in a recent interview with a Khartoum paper pushed back questions on efforts of Southern members of his party to achieve unity before the decisive plebiscite on the future of Southern Sudan. Referring to the independence drift in the South the long time NCP fellow was clear that as NCP unionists they stand no chance since in public perception they are regarded as traitors of the cause of the new nation. Rorej declared that he and likeminded are intent on establishing an NCP in the independent South that seeks Southern unity before reunification with the North.
On the other side of the fence Yasir Arman the chief of SPLM-North Sudan responded to a similar set of question with reminiscences about the late Chairman John Garang. Dodging the dilemma of an SPLM-North associated with the ruling party of a neighbouring country, to say the least an inconvenient situation, the life-long SPLM campaigner reiterated his convictions regarding the New Sudan, presented as an idea sure to survive the current squabbles, and even overarch to pan-African significance. Arman also made it clear that SPLM-North is here to stay irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. Implicitly admitting to a rift in the SPLM regarding the fate of its Northern chapter, before all else the brothers in arms in the Nuba Mountains and Ingessena (Southern Blue Nile), Arman seemed to invest his hopes in the coming meeting of the SPLM’s National Liberation Council to secure a happy end.
To advocates of secession in NCP and SPLM the qualms of Rorej and Arman are but unpleasant accompaniments of a greater ‘historical’ truth, namely partition. Their fates, however, are symptomatic of the political landscape in sharp rearrangement. According to news reports the ruling partners, differences aside, agreed in Addis Ababa that the neighbour states in North and South commit themselves not to host opposition groups from across the border. In the probable case that such a pledge applies to own party members with the wrong ‘nationality’ Rorej, true to his claim, will have to shift offices to the South, and Arman can only survive politically in Khartoum. Come secession, any rosy notion of re-unification is sure to become a political no go if not ground for an offence against the state. If the mother parties, SPLM and NCP, are then in need of a face-lift devoid of their natural double the offshoot NCP-Rorej and SPLM-Arman are in need of re-engineering. The difference however is such while the SPLM leadership seems ready to embrace Southern foes, Lam Akol included, in a bid for an all Southern constituency, at least in the peri-referendum period, the NCP is sure to invest considerable energy in doing away with SPLM baggage in the North.
The crucial point is this; devoid of the Southern argument North Sudan’s secular intellectuals and political forces have to face up to delayed homework, how to find back to the largely surrendered jellaba constituency?