referendum 2011
referendum 2011

By Deng Akok Muoradid

The desperate protesters in Sudan are criticizing their former President Omar Hassan Al Bashir for the partition of Sudan and they recently called for the urgent reunification of the two Sudans after they ousted him from power. The traumatized Sudanese wrongly conceptualize the separation of South Sudan as a “Bashir’s fault" rather than the general willingness of all the South Sudanese who felt marginalized in the old Sudan. The quest for the independent by the Southerners didn't start at the time of Omar Al Bashir's regime but it could be traced back to Sudan's Pre Independent period especially the 1947 Conference which was held under the auspices of the outgoing British on the position of Southerners either for the "Southern region to remain a part of Sudan or be an independent state". It could be remembered that most of the traditional chiefs who attended the 1947 Juba Conference preferred separation to unity.

However, the traditional chiefs were immediately bribed with bicycles, perfumes, cowboy hats, shoes and clothes by the Sudanese Arabs as a way of convincing them to remain in the Old Sudan. The same policy of bribery was also initiated by President Omar El Bashir in 2011 through "Unity Support Funds". Omar Al Bashir bribed many of the South Sudanese to vote for the unity. However, the South Sudanese of 2011 weren't like the traditional chiefs of 1947 who were only bribed with bicycles, perfumes, clothes, cowboy hats.  His campaign for the unity of Sudan through “Unity Support Funds" ended in vain after the bribed South Sudanese eventually changed their minds and voted for separation.

Back to the topic, the root cause of the partition of Sudan into two countries could be attributed to the mismanagement of diversity and the attempt by the successive Islamic regimes in Khartoum to forcefully Islamise and Arabize the African Christians in the Southern, Western and Eastern parts of the country. The people of South who are non-Arabs, Christians and animists have felt oppressed by their neighbours in the North and this explains why 99 % of Southerners voted for the separation of South from North in the 2011 referendum.

The Sudanese Arabs were fully aware of the austerities that would face them after the separation of oil rich South Sudan and they tried their best to campaign for the unity through material and financial inducements. The former president of Sudan Omar Al Bashir knew very well that the economic crisis that led to his fall, is a consequence of the breakaway of oil rich South Sudan. 75% of Sudan's crude oil and minerals are found in South Sudan. Sudan has remained with few oil fields which are mostly located in disputed areas like Abyei and Panthou (Helig).

In Conclusion, the Sudanese Arabs should not make Omar Al Bashir a scapegoat for the separation of South Sudan from Sudan because he has tried his best to lobby for the unity of Sudan through" Unity Support Funds".  He has also toured all the major towns in Southern Region, campaigning for the unity of Sudan. He also managed to convince all the South Sudanese politicians in his party (NCP) to campaign for the unity. I see no reason for blaming Bashir because he is one of the Islamists who were against the separation of Southern Region from the Northern Part.

The writer is a Senior Human Right Activist. He can be reached via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Mob: +211921637574

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