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Sudan Conflict

Southern Sudan may declare unilateral independence

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Aug 18, 2009

Sources from within the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) have given indication that should the regime in Khartoum continue to obstruct the referendum law, under which the independence decision will be made by the people of the South, unilateral independence may become the only option.

Khartoum has been notorious in delaying and even obstructing the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or in short CPA, signed with the Southern liberation movement in early 2005 after failing to militarily occupy and subdue the South.

Sections of the Southern leadership have now for the first time taken public issue with these tactics and not ruled out unilateral action, should no agreement to a fair referendum law be reached very soon.

Already the South is upset over Khartoum’s repeated delays of the national elections, and their overt and covert activities to pre-rig the elections by talking down the census results in the South and rather arbitrarily redrawing constituency boundaries.

Similar delays in passing the referendum law are now also endangering the time frame for this crucial vote in the South in early 2011.

One of the key sticking points is the regime’s insistence that the referendum would require a 75 percent yes vote to succeed, while the South has floated the internationally recognized 50+ percent margin, in any case expected to be largely exceeded.

Yet, Khartoum is also suspected of trying to “stuff” the South with voters, as is the case in Abyei as well at present, to influence the voting pattern, but this has met with decisive resistance to those plans by the Southern leadership and people who remain vigilant to secure their own destiny.

In a related development, a senior SPLM official also opposed the removal of the Khartoum regime from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in direct contradiction of a recent comment made by a US special representative. It was pointed out that the regime first has to meet international benchmark standards in their behavior, i.e. in Darfur and that in any case the Southern Sudan was exempt from those sanctions by the US.

Notably, the SPLM official speaking out about the possibility of unilateral independence is now subject to harassment and intimidation from the regime’s security organs, which have already made moves to strip the individual of his parliamentary immunity so as to arrest him and charge him under the draconian laws in place in Khartoum against political dissidents.

Southern Sudan may declare unilateral independence

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