CSI Appeals for Peaceful Referendum on Southern Independence
WASHINGTON and JUBA, Sudan, Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Southern Sudan faces a “humanitarian catastrophe”, according to Southern Sudan‘s President Salva Kiir. Speaking to CSI, President Kiir explained that a mass exodus of Southern Sudanese from the North back to the South has just begun.
Southern Sudanese officials expect the sudden arrival of nearly half a million impoverished Southerners during the next six weeks. (IRIN, Aweil, Nov. 10, 2010.) The current exodus from the North has been precipitated by the expectation of a new sovereign Southern Sudanese state following a Southern referendum on independence scheduled for early January 2011.
The mass migration gains further momentum as levels of anti-Southern hate crimes in Northern Sudan rise as a reaction against the prospect of Southern Sudanese independence. “The hardline Islamists don’t want Southerners in the North,” Kiir claimed.
President Kiir predicted a dire pre-referendum humanitarian crisis under the best of circumstances. But he fears a more extensive catastrophe in the event of a resumption of war between the North and the South. The Islamist-dominated Government of Sudan‘s end-of-November bombing campaign on the Southern Sudanese side of the Darfur border has dramatically increased tensions.
Kiir interprets the bombing as a provocation aimed at disrupting the referendum. He pledged to pursue pacific polices as long as possible. But he warned that continuing acts of war against Southern Sudan could merit a military response.
Arab/Islamic supremacism is a powerful factor in the political culture of Northern Sudan. The overwhelming majority of Southern Sudanese are Black African Christians or traditionalists. The majority of the approximately two million Southerners living in Northern Sudan sought refuge there during the late North-South civil war (1983-2005).
Despite the rising tensions with Northern Sudan and the humanitarian crisis, Kiir sees hope in the unity of Southern Sudanese political forces. Last October, he launched a process of political dialogue within Southern Sudan. This has paved the way for a broadly based post-referendum constitutional congress. The President expects a new, inclusive “Government of Southern Unity” to emerge from the process.
President Kiir thanked CSI for its longstanding humanitarian support for hard-pressed South Sudan, and encouraged CSI, together with the international community, to rise to the challenge facing the South as the date of the referendum approaches.
U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, recently described Southern Sudan as a “ticking time-bomb”.
Dr. John Eibner – the CEO of Christian Solidarity International (CSI-USA) – has urged the American Government and its international partners to intensify efforts to address the mounting humanitarian crisis in Southern Sudan, and to act energetically to ensure a peaceful referendum. “The preservation of peace,” Eibner stated, “is in the interest of the people of both Northern and Southern Sudan.” CSI has campaigned for two decades in support of Southern Sudan‘s right of self-determination.