Changes in the new biometric passports issued by the Sudanese government indicate that a discriminatory phrase has been removed, making way for southern, and northern Sudanese citizens to finally travel to Israel without fear of invalidating their travel document.

The old passport contained a stamped phrase reading, “All countries except Israel,” while another statement threatened that in case of travel to Israel, the passport would become void.

Sudan has stuck to a 1958 Arab embargo against Israel, but most Arab nations have since then removed these barriers and engaged at one level or another with the Israelis, except for the most hard-line regimes.

Sensing political fallout internally, a government spokesperson was swift to clarify that the Sudan will continue to deny exit visas to anyone professing to travel to Israel, while Sudanese living abroad, and arguably the southern population normally flying via Entebbe or Nairobi to avoid the ongoing perceived persecution when leaving or returning via Khartoum, will undoubtedly find that they can finally travel to where their heart desires, even to the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, the political debate over the 2011 Referendum Law escalated when the SPLM and her allies in the national assembly threatened to boycott the crucial final session of parliament before the expected national elections in 2010, should the referendum law and the election modalities not be resolved within the week.

There is growing anger in the south over perceived delays and overt and covert maneuverings by the regime in Khartoum to redraw constituency boundaries based on allegedly-doctored census figures, all with an eye on allegedly pre-rigging the forthcoming elections and denying the southern population a fair share of political representation.