Monday, 15 November 2010

Partition glows

Today voter registration for the decisive and long awaited self-determination plebiscite on the future of Southern Sudan started in North and South. Turnout in Khartoum was reportedly low compared to the joyous turnout in Southern Sudan. It is time to congratulate Sudan on reaching so far. Looking back at the bloody trail of Sudan’s civil war and the terrible tumults of NCP-SPLM relations it is an impossibility that the referendum actually takes off. Today is its initial concrete step, voters’ registration.
President Kiir was the first Southern Sudanese citizen to register. Instead of a celebratory statement Kiir asked the international community to keep a close eye on the situation, and point out the party who may seek to impede the process. The President’s statement discloses how much ‘existential’ worry surrounds the event despite the framework agreement on pending issues between NCP and SPLM announced yesterday by Thabo Mbeki in Khartoum. Abyei, ever postponed, is to be shifted to the Presidency to decide upon. Mbeki added that a meeting joining the Presidency (Bashir, Kiir and Taha) with the African Union Panel is to take place on the return of Bashir from the Hajj.
Shafie Khidir, SCP
A few days ago SPLM Luka Biong speaking in Vienna described Bashir as the most courageous Sudanese leader for agreeing to grant Southern Sudan the right of self-determination. On that note it is important yet again to point out where Bashir is coming from. Paradoxically it is Bashir, the jihadist, who somersaulted to bow down to South Sudan’s probable secession, snatching away the Sudanese Left’s dedicated pledge to its SPLM allies. History however has its strange ways. 
En route to the Asmara Declaration of 1995 the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) made strenuous efforts to convince the Northern parties in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to agree to the SPLM’s demand of self-determination for Southern Sudan. Through its representatives, Shafie Khidir and Tijani Tayeb, the SCP effectively glued together the NDA strangers, albeit temporarily. Today just a left-over trademark of Sudan’s political marketplace the NDA once joined the SPLM/A, Sudan’s sectarian parties, the Sudanese leftist spectrum, the rebellious Beja Congress and Free Lions Movement of Eastern Sudan, as well as the deposed army leadership and heads of the banned trade unions movement.
Tijani Tayeb, SCP
Probably the NDA is as close the SCP ever got to its vision of a ‘national democratic front’, although it was not its appreciated vanguard. In effect the demise of the NDA is partially due to the fact that it lacked a vanguard, and was by all means an arrangement of convenience. Each partner gnawed away at the added value that makes a whole greater than the sum of its components. One by one the co-travellers departed the train without even a mannered good bye. The SCP and many in the SPLM held high the prospect of unity on a new basis, a basis they failed to establish, neither by the gun nor by negotiation. The compromise of the CPA watered down to partition, democratic transformation hehehe. Today they are invited to see the virtues of a possibly peaceful partition despite its ill, and imagine the opportunity to come, not just in realpolitik but in the terrain of the impossible. Once upon a time, self-determination for the South was an effective ‘impossible’ wasn’t it?

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Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.