Referenda in Scotland and South Sudan Told a Tale of Two Cities
By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
This article comes against the backdrop of the referendum in Scotland and southern Sudan in the years 2014 and 2011, respectively, and the result was 55 percent of the votes in Scotland chose to stay United in the United Kingdom whereas 99.2 percent of the voters in the South Sudan chose secession. Moreover, the main objective behind the objective article is to make a comparison of the circumstances and events surrounded the Referendum in both Scotland and South Sudan in spite of the obvious differences between them in terms of the awareness of citizens and the political and cultural legacy, as a ‘Tale of Two Cities’, so to speak! Hate campaign predominated the southern Sudan Referendum led by El-Tayeb Mustafa, President Omer al-Bashir’s maternal Uncle, leader of the right wing political party so-called Just Peace Forum (JPF) Chief editor and owner of the daily Newspaper al- Intibaha whereas Passion and cereal love reigned and prevailed the Scottish Referendum in the “Better Together” campaign led by the leaders of the main British Political Parties – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats – spearheaded by the incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron.
Both referenda in South of Sudan and in Scotland have left a significantly lasting legacy. However, the Scottish referendum will offer many lessons to different nations besides Sudan, as a story of a clash between heads and hearts! Analysts indicated that the Scottish Referendum showed a high level of civil maturity that other nations such as Sudan needs to learn from to pave the way for a democracy that satisfies everyone.
The political elites in Sudan need to receive lessons from such major events, digest and absorb them for the sake of Nation State-building and work incessantly for the principles of the rule of law, democracy and good governance in order to prevail peace, stability and decent living and well-being for the rest of the peoples of Sudan. Sadly and unfortunate for the people of Sudan that the political elites in Sudan have failed to learn anything, though tended not to forget anything, like the Bourbon Dynasty that ruled France, as one political observer said when he looked through the blunders of the politicians in the country of Sudan. On 9 July 2011, 98.83% of South Sudanese voted for independence whereas on 18 September 2014, 55% of the Scottish rejected independence and voted against breaking Union with England.
Difference between the Referenda of Southern Sudan and that of the Scottish is clear and unmistakable; no two she- goats head butting in argument around and can only missed by an eye inflicted by conjunctivitis, so to speak!
The debate continued without abating about the existence or lack of similarity between the Southern Sudan Referendum and the Scottish Referendum. In other words, whether there is any Analogy between the South Sudan Referendum and the Scottish Referendum?
To hold a comparison between the Referendum of the south of Sudan that resulted into secession and that of Scotland, which resulted in the victory of the ‘Better Together’ slogan, is something farfetched, if not impossible; political analysts mooted. Is it fair and realistic to make a comparison between the two even if there is no similarity between them? Thus, questions follow unabated, without interruption or definitive answer.
Look at the vast difference between the two systems, one ruling regime makes unity attractive and while the other makes it repulsive to create two failed states of northern Sudan and the State of South Sudan. This becomes evident when we look at the behaviour of the group that says ‘Better Together’ in the Scottish Referendum. Political observers acknowledge that the ruling regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) is not qualified to rule a village let alone the management of continent-sized country like Sudan before secession of the southern part of it!
A political analyst says that the comparison between what happened in Sudan and in the Scottish Referendum in the United Kingdom is invalid in view to the lack of similarity or equivalence between the despotic racist (NCP) regime who govern Sudan today and former colonial ruler of Sudan. The reason is that the (NCP) establishment who overthrew a democratically elected government through a military coup and set up a totalitarian regime and ruled the country with an iron fist imposing own fundamentalist version of religion is just an ominous curse befell on the people of Sudan. Truly, it appears as an ominous curse of history befell on the peoples of Sudan. Moreover, the successive rulers who came to power in Sudan after the independence lacked the insight, wisdom and experience for administration of the affairs of multi-ethnic, multiple-faith, multiple-cultural peoples living on a span of a land extending over an area of one million square miles.
Sudan requires drastic constitutional changes that safeguards populous democracy, which distances away from the minority elites, imposed governance styles. Radical transformation of politics that operates transparently through the privacy of the polling booth without interference by the arbitrary laws imposed by repressive National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) devices.
If we try hard to make comparison between what has happened in the case of the Scottish Referendum and the Referendum for southern Sudan, we find a significant difference and a vast gap in the following:
The affiliates of the NCP regime in Sudan worked hard coercing the people of South of Sudan to opt for secession by various means. The methods of coercion against Unity and choosing secession adopted by the Northern supremacist included the use of phrases offensive to the South of Sudan folks such as calling them insects. Moreover, behaviours such as celebrations by slaughtering of Black bulls as an indication of the Black skin colour of the Sudanese Southerners. On top of those involved in the acts of racism members of the so-called Just Peace Forum (JPF), headed by El-Tayeb Mustafa, who already mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs. They included individuals having close family links to the NCP President. Contrary to that is the behaviour of the politicians of the United Kingdom, including the Prime Minister, his Deputy, and leader of the Opposition, who campaigned and canvassed to woe voters for the ‘Better Together’ camp. This attracted voters for Voluntary Unity. In the case of the South of Sudan no politician from the NCP regime participated in making unity attractive for the people of the South or that voluntary Unity as best option for the whole nation. Thus, they made voluntary unity revolting to the people of South of Sudan who chose to Secede. Sadly, the result was secession of the south with one third of the country’s land, oil reserves and its citizens with formation of two hostile failed states; Sudan and South Sudan.
When you look at the Scottish referendum as an afterthought and the general elections in Turkey and compare the situation in the third one world, get a shiver of splendor and beauty of the exercise of democracy in the life of human beings over there.
When we look at the behaviours of the two groups of politicians in Sudan and in the United Kingdom, we find the wide gap in each one’s dealing with the referendum for the purpose of secession / separation. It was making voluntary unity attractive versus making it aversive!
Differentiation between rows adopted by the Sudanese opposition parties has occurred in dealing with the alleged “National Dialogue” presented by the President of the regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) in January 2014. This happens alongside the great political tension and rampant institutionalised corruption and the aggravated social crises that led to the emergence of regional and tribal affiliations in exchange for the National membership at the expense of voluntary National Unity.
At this juncture, we can say chanting this Slogan: Long live democracy and voluntary unity and respect for human rights and recognition of others in Sudan and obviously in all over the world. It is onus on the Sudan’s political class to take lessons and learn from the referendum of the citizens of the United Kingdom in Scotland.
South Sudan Map Courtesy of @
Scotland Map Courtesy of @
Latest Map of Sudan after the Secession of its Southern Courtesy of @