Monday, 20 July 2009

Southerners of the North

A few days ago, speaking to a large audience in the outskirts of Omdurman mostly IDPs from the late 80's and early 90's, SPLM Chairman and First Vice President Salva Kiir reiterated the position of the SPLM concerning the eligibility to vote in the upcoming referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan. He stated that a Southern Sudanese is exclusively a person resident in Southern Sudan, and that Southern Sudanese who wish to vote should consequentially resettle in the South, otherwise they will loose their "right" to cast their votes on the question of self-determination. He added that Southerners who choose to stay in the North should consider themselves citizens of the North. They may well do so, but it is pretty unlikely that NCP authorities in the North, most probably they will maintain grip on power elections or no elections, will adhere to such a notion of citizenship. In that sense Southerners who do remain in North Sudan may well become, once again, a stateless population, simply non-citizens, not good enough for both states. I do not even want to imagine the possible consequences of such a situation. Those acquainted with the history of Khartoum know that the city's conscience is heavy with racial violence. The bloody incidents of 1965 (Clement Mboro's delayed plane) and 2005 (John Garang's death) demonstrate the ease with which the city can surrender to the anger of the mob.

Readers of al Intibaha newspaper, Khartoum's version of Rwanda's genocide radio stations would recognise with ease the identity doctrine that imprints on the political debate on Sudan and the irreconcilable dichotomies that characterise it: Arab vs African, Moslem vs Christian, and I dare say centre vs periphery. Only al Intibaha dares to carry the logic of these opposed poles to its ultimate consequences, in straightforward vulgarised form without the subtleties and qualifications that are the lot of "dignifed" anthropologised politics on Sudan. What the paper proposes is the final solution for Southern Sudan, its secession. With that secession the Arab Moslem identity of Northern Sudan should be restored, which means also all Southerners in the North - according to the questionable 2009 census half a million, according to other estimates triple or four times that figure - should disappear, either migrate to Southern Sudan, which many do not even recognise as home, or I fear face a Sudanese brand final solution. It seems the disenfranchised of unity may well in this framework emerge again as the prosecuted of secession.

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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.