January………What a Month!

Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid

Almost every Gregorian month has witnessed an acute turn and a big event that shapes the history of the Sudan.

May, June, July and November have been linked with military coups that deeply & disastrously affected the country, while, on the contrary, April, October & December have been linked with change, hope, and aspirations as the Sudanese people managed to overthrow the military dictatorial regimes through popular uprisings.

But, among all these Gregorian months of the year, January is so special & so distinctive, since it has witnessed two very important & major events that have redrawn the modern history of Sudan.  In January 1956, Sudan became an independent unified state, while in January 2011 the country split into two states; the republic of Sudan & the republic of South Sudan.

 It was very clear that the endgame of the CPA, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, will be the separation, or independence as some southern elites call it, of the southern part of Sudan, not because the concept “Right of Self-determination” was introduced to the agreement, but mainly because those who were in power at that time, the Islamists, were not keen on making unity an attractive option for our people in South Sudan.

They were not so keen to address the diversity & the multiplicity of the Sudanese society in relation to the issue of religion & state, the issue of the Shariea (Islamic) Laws, and the issue of identity in a way that can guarantee the continuation of the unity of the country. It was very clear that the unity of the Sudan can’t be sustained through power and enforcement, but only voluntarily, and through justice and free will of all Sudanese groups.

Some Sudanese writers & politicians believe that the term “Right of Self-determination” was first introduced to the Sudanese political literature on October 1993, when some American Congressmen launched an initiative attempting to reunite the two faction of the Sudan People Liberation Movement, the Toreit faction which was led by the late Dr. John Garang, and Alnaser faction which was led by Rick Mashar & Lam Akole.

 The initiative organizes series of meeting & symposiums between the two factions in Washington. However, the two factions did not reunite, but reached an agreement & understanding on several points & items, one of them reads (To oppose the policy of the Islamic National Front regime in Khartoum, and any coming regime, that doesn’t respect the right of the people in South Sudan, Nuba mountains and other marginalized regions, to observe  their right for self-determination…).

I think, to be more precise & accurate, one should say that  the Washington meetings had reintroduced the concept of self-determination into the recent political life, but that was not the first time ever to introduce the term, and the concept of self-determination did not appear suddenly in those meetings as a diabolical growth.

In 1942 the Sudanese Alumni Congress submitted memorandum to the British Governor demanding the right of the self-determination to the Sudan in the first available chance. However, we should bear in mind that the members of the Alumni Congress did not include anyone from the south of the Sudan.

Later on, the British administration planned to hold a referendum for the Sudanese people to exercise their right of self-determination by either voting for complete independence or to unite with Egypt.

 The Sudanese political movement bypassed that referendum and declared the independence from inside the parliament. The southern Parliamentarians voted for the independence only after they had been assured by the northern ones that the south of Sudan will enjoy a federal status, but that never happened. (To be cont….)

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