South Sudan walk to freedom has almost ended. It is now poised to take its place in the United Nations Organization sooner than anyone thought a year ago. If everything goes well South Sudan will be the 194th nation to be admitted to UN membership. When UNO was formed in 1945 following WW11 there were only 51 countries on its roll. Since then membership has increased by leaps and bounds especially after the break up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in the early nineties. Between 1991 - 1994 membership rose from 166 to 184 an increase of 19 states. The youngest nation to join the UNO was Montenegro (192) which voted for independence from Serbia in a referendum on May 21, 2006. Before that East Timor formally joined the world body in 2002 after centuries of Portuguese rule and years of often brutal Indonesian occupation.
Sudan's centuries of association with Egypt formally ended in 1956, when joint British-Egyptian rule over the country ended. Independence was rapidly overshadowed by unresolved constitutional tensions with the south, which flared up into full-scale civil war that the coup-prone central government was ill-equipped to suppress. The military-led government of President Jaafar Numeiri agreed to autonomy for the south in 1972, but fighting broke out again in 1983. After two years of bargaining, the rebels signed a comprehensive peace deal with the government to end the civil war in January 2005.
Decades of fighting have left Sudan's infrastructure in tatters. With the return of millions of displaced southerners, there is a pressing need for reconstruction. The economic dividends of peace could be great. Sudan has large areas of cultivatable land, as well as gold and cotton. Its oil reserves are ripe for further exploitation. Arabic is the official language and Islam is the state religion, but the large non-Arab, non-Muslim minority has rejected attempts by the government in Khartoum to impose Islamic Sharia law on the country as a whole.
The referendum to split Sudan into a predominantly Muslim North and a predominantly Christian South, after years of fighting and repression, was concluded on January 15,2011. The popular mandate catapulted a collective dream towards the much awaited freedom, off the yoke of a presumptively terrorist state Sudan. The referendum came exactly five years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was accorded in 2005 between a cornered Government of Sudan and South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement. Eelam Thamils join the South Sudanese people in their moment of rejoice.
Sixty percent out of the 4.5 million registered voters casted their votes confirming the turnout passed the 60 percent mark needed to make the result binding. Almost 99 percent of south Sudanese who voted for independence in the referendum chose to split away from the north, the first official but incomplete figures published by the referendum commission. This is an indication of a landslide vote for southern independence promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war. The final official figures are expected in February.
The website for the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (southernsudan2011.com/) showed a 98.6 percent vote for secession, with more than 80 percent of the votes from the south counted, and 100 percent counted in other areas.
International observers gave south Sudan's independence referendum their seal of approval on January 17, 2011 and said that a vote for secession was now "virtually certain" in their first official judgment on the poll. Early results from last week's plebiscite suggest that people from Sudan's oil-producing south voted overwhelmingly to split away from the north following decades of civil war. Observers from the Carter Center and the European Union both said that the vote had been credible -- an endorsement that moved the region a step closer to independence.
The main political division of Africa was decided at the Berlin Conference in 1884/85. The participating European powers had little information about the people of inland Africa. They had explored the coastline, but their interest was access to the mineral wealth of the continent.
If one looks at the political boundaries of Africa it becomes clear that no regard was given to the cultural and ethnic diversity of its people. Local people who had little in common were lumped together, and people with a common culture and tradition were separated. The Zulus and the "boers" were the first to offer military resistance to the land- grabbing and mineral interests of colonial powers, but they succumbed to superior military power. Only Abyssinia and Liberia were not "colonised". Bloody ethnic wars in Africa were the result of decisions taken at the 1884/5 conference.
South Sudan was already there during the European scramble for Africa in Berlin. South Sudan was also there during the British Colonialists “Closed District Ordinance.” South Sudan was there in the historical 1947 Juba Conference. South Sudan was there in the historical 1955 Torit mutiny and rebellion. South Sudan was there during 1965 Round-table Conference. South Sudan was there during the initial historical 1982-1983 rebellions.
South Sudan’s sovereignty is now mere a matter of time. People who fled to distant shores in search of peace are now ecstatic of a peaceful future in their homeland. More than 2000 families have started returning back to the swampy tracts of the White Nile. But the question pops up, can South Sudan ensure, rather sustain peace? Only time will tell. The new government at Juba has to ensure equal opportunity, democratic representation of all ethnic sects. South Sudan comprises of composite clusters of ethnicity, and hence their respective aspirations, beliefs, customs, languages and seeking in unity in diversity will be the greatest challenge the leaders of the new government will face. Southern Sudan shares its borders with Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Congo. Each country poses a unique assortment of threats. Ethiopia’s political instability, insurgences and fast penetrating roots of Islamist terrorism are poised to be the greatest challenges to South Sudan, all the more as the latter is not an Islamic one. Tunisia is a recent example of how a country under the jackboot of a corrupt dictator backed by the army could collapse like nine-pins overnight for lack of democracy, transparency and rule of law.
It shall be H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit to lower the Sudan flag and raise high the flag of the Republic of South Sudan on 9th July, 2011 at the Presidential Republican Palace in Juba. He is going to be the first President of the Republic of South Sudan as already agreed by the political parties of Southern Sudan. It shall be the very GoSS and SPLM/A Flag which is being used now. Dr. Mayardit shall lift up this flag with honour on that greatest First Independent Day of South Sudan.
South Sudan will have the ‘Buffalo’ as the “Coat of Arms (Emblem)” and with “Motto” under its design written: ‘Peace and Prosperity’. The current proposed “National Anthem” shall be amended to remove irrelevant attributes like the Land of Cush, Milk and Black Warriors. South Sudan will issue Ordinary “Black Passport” save for the diplomatic ones which should be red. Their “Nationality” shall be ‘South Sudanese’ and have ‘South Sudanese Pound’ as their “Currency”.
It is widely expected that recognition of the new government from other nations around the globe will be swift and decisive.
Russia has expressed a willingness to recognize an independent state in Southern Sudan if the results of January 15 referendum are accepted by the two governments north and south according to the special envoy of the President Dmitry Medvedev to Sudan. On Wednesday, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) declared recognizing the results of the Southern Sudan referendum on independence.
“If a new independent state appears on Africa’s map as a result of the referendum and this is not accompanied with conflicts, this outcome can be described as a most favourable one,” said Mikhail Margelov special Russian envoy to Sudan. “We act as an honest partner: we have no burden of the colonial past either in Sudan or in neighbouring African countries, nor have we investments running into billions or the mentality of an international policeman. Russia in this case can only show its goodwill,” he stressed.
Margelov said the northern and southern Sudan governments expressed readiness to reach agreement on the pending issues to prevent another civil war. "The political forces of Sudan were able now to reach agreement: they have common interests, and, one would like to hope, not only economic."
An Overview of undivided Sudan
- Full name: Republic of Sudan
- Population: 43.2 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Khartoum
- Area: 2.5 million sq km (966,757 sq miles)
- Major languages: Arabic, English (official), others
- Major religions: Islam, Christianity, Animism
- Life expectancy: 58 years (men), 61 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: Sudanese pound
- Main exports: Oil, cotton, sesame, livestock and hides, gum Arabic
- GNI per capita: US $1,220 (World Bank, 2009)
Last December, during a visit to Khartoum, the Russian envoy met with the Sudanese First Vice President and head of southern Sudan government to discuss the future relations between Russia and South Sudan. "Russia is interested in its economic presence in Sudan, whether in a unified one, or with the South separated from it," he said. “From the business point of view, (Sudan) offers a multitude of perspective trends - oil, pipelines, energy, water resources and railway transport,” he stressed.
China is the biggest foreign stakeholder in the Sudanese oil industry, via China National Petroleum Company’s interests in various production and exploration blocks, and it receives approximately three-quarters of Sudan’s oil exports. The oil industry is acutely vulnerable to any conflict because about 75 per cent of Sudan’s proven reserves of 6.3bn barrels are in the south, but the pipeline that carries the oil to export terminals and refineries runs through the north. The south needs Khartoum’s co-operation to sell its oil; the north needs revenues from its neighbour’s resources; and the two sides of the country have yet to agree how they will cooperate to keep the oil flowing after independence.
There is an adage that behind every man's success there lies a woman. The same is true of nations which freed themselves from tyranny and slavery. East Timor independence was backed by Portugal its former colony. Kosovo shook off Serbia's yoke with the help of European Union and the NATO forces. South Sudan had the backing of a majority of Christian organizations which wield considerable political clout in US politics.
Freedom don't come easily. South Sudan paid a price. More than 2 million people died during the civil war which began in 1983. Sudan's holocaust, includes village raids, massacres, refugees and slavery. Civil war in Darfur region is seen as "one of the worst nightmares in recent history".
The birth of South Sudan after a painful and destructive civil war gives hope to other national minorities like the Palestinians, Chechens, Kashmiris, Kurds and Eelam Thamils fighting for their own freedom. The borders of countries are not cast in stone. Adding another ten members to the will not cause the sky to fall!
Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) has invited Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) to visit Southern Sudan in the immediate aftermath of the vote for an independent state. TGTE is sending a delegation to participate in the celebrations and to discuss possibilities of assisting Southern Sudan in their development efforts through Tamil Diaspora expertise in selected fields. TGTE delegation will be received by the SPLM officials and will stay as guests of SPLM. This is a giant step in our struggle for statehood. There are many similarities between the South Sudanese people liberation struggle and the Eelam Thamils. Both faced persecution and a genocidal war. Sudanese President Bashir has been indicted for genocide and the Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa is to be indicted for genocide at some point in time. World leaders must recognize the legitimate struggle of Eelam Thamils to restore and reconstitute the sovereign state of Thamil Eelam. Thamil Eelam is good for Thamils, but better for the Sinhalese and the world at large!