KHARTOUM, Oct (SUDANOW- REPORT)—Although the National Congress Party (NCP), the senior partner of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), has repeatedly declared that it will uphold, till the last moment of the referendum, the voluntary unity banner, influential figures in that party regarded the issue of holding the referendum on time as secession as the other side of the coin as secession appears the ultimate result of the referendum, particularly the plebiscite has become a goal to the big powers as well as to leading figures in the southern political community. Economist and former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Hamdi, who was speaking at a symposium organized by Faisal Islamic Bank (FIB) titled (Referendum Consequences and Repercussions on Sudan), criticized the NCP for linking its acceptance of the referendum result to a condition that the exercise would transparent and correct. This condition provides an excuse for renouncing the result and this may lead to tension and future conflicts, Hamdi added. The former Finance Minister made reference to another NCP condition for holding the referendum which is related to the border demarcation. He said this condition was an organizational decision issued by the NCP Leading Council and should therefore be taken seriously. Hamdi also made reference to what he branded as discourteous and provocative statements by low-ranking individual NCP officials on treatment of southerners in case secession was the outcome of the referendum and similar statements made apparently in reprisal by southern officials. Those traded statements have resulted in an acute strain in the political atmosphere that could bar the occurrence of a smooth secession, Hamdi predicted. He called for reversing the position of the north by accepting the result of the referendum without placing conditions. Reviewing the steps which he said have led to consideration of the establishment of an independent state in the south, Hamdi said the first step was the 1995 Asmara conference (of the then opposition National Alliance parties, including the SPLM) which adopted a resolution of granting the south the right to self-determination. The NCP did not recognize this resolution at that time, he said. The second step was at the outset of the NCP-SPLM negotiations in Mashakos, Kenya, when the two parties endorsed the principle of establishing a two-system state, planting the secession germ, Hamdi said. The final step was in Naivasha, Kenya, negotiations under which the northern political and military authority in the south was handed over to the southerners. This resulted in the withdrawal of the northern army from the south and in the formation of a government of an overwhelming majority of the SPLM, giving birth to eventual secession, the economist said. This situation was legalized in the Constitution and set in place through regulatory mechanisms and laws during the transitional period and the secession wheel began to roll forward too swiftly and too powerfully and too late to be checked. He blamed the entire Sudanese political "body" for what has happened, saying that this "body" has to bear the consequences. Hamdi justified his call for accepting the result of the referendum, despite its shortcomings, because, he said, the West (international community) decided to accept the result of the previous general elections months ahead of holding them and the newspapers and unofficial monitors predicted that the elections would be "credible" and that the NCP would win them by a clear majority and Beshir would be re-elected as ruler of the Sudan. In politics, this is known as "Red Politic", that is, realistic transaction with the status quo, Hamdi said. The elections scenario was run exactly as drawn or predicted and the West and the southern political movement as well as the northern political parties jumped immediately to the next phase, the current one, which has always been targeted, the secession and ultimately the establishment of a southern state independent from the north. He said, for this reason, he is calling for reversal of the attitude of the north in the way, applying the "Red Politic" practice of accepting the result of the referendum, that is, secession, without placing any conditions. We are already aware that rejection of the result of the referendum would lead to a strange situation: either non-recognition of the new state as a political position which the Sudan will develop politically with other state, calling upon them for not recognizing the southern state, thus crating a state of animosity between the two states, or leading to "a heated" conflict, taking away all of the peace dividends, and eventually to a state of war in which the international community will certainly take a hostile position against the state of the north and in support of the southern state. Such a war will a new excuse additional sanctions and siege to be imposed on the Sudan in addition to aggravating the Darfur crisis, he added. He wished that the Sudan would not find itself entangled in such a situation due to unconsidered rhetoric and that the thinking be switched to turning the secession to a northern advantage and confronting the crucial economic problems the north will face as a result of the secession. Hamdi advised that emphasis should from now on be made on finding ways and mechanisms for an agreeable production of the result of the referendum because this will be to the interest of the two parties. Hamdi pointed out four pivots – the borders, populations, economic trade and transactions and security – on which the two states, particularly the biggest one, should concentrate. As regards the borders, Hamdi said it would be of the interest of the north, whose regime calls for "a cultural project" (Islamic Sharia), not to set up borders that block the intellectual dissemination and natural intermingling of the two states and not to an iron curtain (intellectual-political-economic) that bars the intermingling that leads to a natural unity of direction, not necessarily a political unity. He said a political unity represents the last block in an edifice the construction of which must start from scratch. For this reason he said he finds no justification for insisting on demarcating the borders ahead of the referendum. He said the referendum and its result should be accepted without procrastination and the demarcation process should then be carried quietly without any heated arguments. The borders on the four directions – north, east, south and west, have remained without being demarcated for years, at least parts of them. If we are in support of population movements between the two countries without migration procedures, especially for the tribes of the zonal regions, why should there be cement marks on the ground, a limited number of gates all along 2,000 kilometers and deployment of military and police units which cannot close imaginary borders that require tens of thousands of soldiers to seal. Hamdi advocated the free movement of individuals and groups across the borderline or between the two states without facing migration restrictions (ID cards, passports or permits, provided that this applies to air, road, railway and river transport. As for the populations, Hamdi said so long as the two parties consent to a free movement of the populations in the former Sudanese territories, they should agree that the populations of the two stats enjoy what is known as the four freedoms of residence, ownership, movement and work. It is not to the interest of the new state in the south to receive hundreds of thousands of southerners drifting from the north immediately and before completion of its infrastructure because this will turn the south into a state dependent on humanitarian aid. Similarly, Hamdi went on, it is to the interest of the northern state that the northerners who are residing in the south and who may travel to it in the f
uture as merchants, religious preachers or politicians, get the same treatment offered to the southerners in the north. He noted that the presence of the southerners in the north is a continuation of the historic role being played by the Sudan as a bridge or a gateway for Arabism and Islam to southern Africa. With respect to the economic transaction, Hamdi recalled that when the Soviet Union collapsed there was established in is place or part of it the Russian states federation which is basically an economic union with the member states having no political commitments towards the union. This means that those states have discerned that their economic interest lies at least in restoration of the economic cooperation amongst them. The existing unions in the world of today are basically economic unions. For this reason, I advise the two parties, with the major party (the north) taking the initiative, to establish an economic union the preparation for which will begin immediately after the proclamation of the new state in the south and during the transition period so as to make of it a continued development of the bilateral relations between the two states. He said within this economic union, the two states will establish an economic area and a market where commodities and services are exchanged and moved without duties. They will establish a customs area where no duties are imposed on commodities and services. Hamdi suggested that the union will have a unitary currency. The union will have as its head the presidents of the two states to run the union's economic affairs without intervening in political or social matters, Hamdi said. Concerning the security, Hamdi said if they are implemented, the previous ideas will be conducive to calming the security situation within both states and will gradually minimize the need for massing forces and accumulating weapons to guard the regimes of the two states or defend them. The huge funds allocated for their forces will gradually be shifted to the development and to improvement of the living conditions of the two peoples. In conclusion, Hamdi enumerated confidence-building measures in which he called upon the government of the south to change its image into a civilian state that is not governed by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and to work for maintenance of the security for encouraging the investors. He also called upon it to declare its cooperation with the northern state, reiterate commitment to the oil agreements, welcome Islamic banks n the south without conditions, and endorse Arabic as the second language in the south. Hamdi further appealed to the southern government to grant the Islamic non-governmental organization the right of operation in the south and to guarantee access by all northern pastoral tribes to the grazing lands as the case was during the united state without fees or conditions. He said the Southern government should ask the one in the north to allow the southerners to remain in the north for 10 years without asking them to go to the south. In exchange, the southern state is to relinquish a portion of its petroleum proceeds to help the north meet the costs of services and infrastructure required for the hundreds of thousands of southerners who will stay over in the north, Hamdi suggested. He also suggested that the Southern Government redeploy its forces away from the international borders and asked the northern government to assist the new government in the south and provide it with experts, personnel and systems in addition to helping it obtain investments and other assistance from the investors with whom the north maintains close ties. The northern government must accept residence by the southerners in the north and the two states must not take a speedy decision on the question of nationality and identity under any political pressures, said Hamdi. He said the northern government must declare that it would not back any military movements or militias in the south and must redeploy its forces in order to fulfill this objective. The northern government must be committed to transact with the southern one with regards to the oil transportation and marketing in the same principles and prices it currently deals in with the companies which are exploring for petroleum, Hamdi said. The northern government has to help the southern government follow up and monitor the pumping and exportation of petroleum, using the transportation, refining and loading facilities available in the north. The above-mentioned exchanged commitments should be made public in a joint statement by all of the executive, legislative and political institutions in the north and the south, declaring their strict commitment to the provisions of this statement.