Voter registration for the awaited referendum is underway in the South and in the North, as usual with the inexhaustible appetite of the SPLM and NCP for squabbles and accusations in the background. Significantly though, the NCP has largely shifted the weight of its public propaganda from unity to a profitable secession. To its local constituency the NCP maintains the high pitch of a hegemonic power intent on saving North Sudan from the predation of Southern belligerents and their foreign allies. Nafie Ali Nafie in his boring hollow aggressiveness brushed off lately any consideration of dual citizenship. Speaking to the inaugural rally of the referendum media campaign in Khartoum on 9 November the NCP vice-chairman stressed unambiguously “come secession, Southerners will have to go to the South and Northerners will have to come to the North”; in NCPese we still have the citizenship status of Southern Sudanese in the North to bargain with. Estimates of the number of Southern Sudanese in Khartoum vary greatly, implying how much political value is vested in them, between a conservative 500 000 in the last census and 1.5 – 2 millions in media reports. Returnees to the South from the North count currently in the tens of thousands, still a small fraction of the total. The future of the remaining majority hinges on NCP/SPLM politicking.
To its international audience the NCP drops the language of the tyrant and adopts the tone of a naughty schoolboy who has learnt his lesson. In his speech before the United Nations Security Council extraordinary meeting on Sudan 16 November the foreign minister, Ali Karti, declared the NCP’s agreement to grant the South self-determination as one of the most daring decisions ever made in the African continent! The foreign minister virtually begged the Council to suspend the ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir. In his own words “the leadership that takes such a decision should be commended and recognised instead of being pressured and unjustly accused”. In the NCP camp el-Tayeb Mustafa will probably thrash Karti for his meek performance.
Ibrahim Ghandoor, the teary eyed unity campaigner, apparently changed lanes from unity at any price to US approved peaceful secession, more or less jumping into the wagon of Taha and Co. I suppose in the hope of growing into a more formidable position than the mediocre posts he perennially occupies, chairman of the government sponsored federation of workers unions and policies secretary of the NCP. Speaking to the London-based Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat he stated “peaceful secession is preferable to war”. Regarding the future of Southern Sudanese in the North Ghandoor fell short of both NCP camps. He neither echoed Nafie’s statist argument nor approved of Taha’s pledge to extend the four freedoms between North and South. However he made sure to distance himself from Kamal Obeid’s ‘not even an injection’ gaffe, from which the chap is yet to recover. This ambiguity though will earn him too some of el-Tayeb Mustafa’s wrath.
Facing up to el-Tayeb Salah Gosh, the former spy-chief, loaded a public gun at al-Intibaha. Speaking at a NCP sponsored mass wedding of Northerners and Southerners in Omdurman a week or so ago the re-emerging figure cried out “they drum for war but we have never seen them in the battlefields”. I wonder if anybody has seen Salah Gosh in a battlefield.