“There are 13 million Arab and African pastoralist on the belt between the southern and northern borders and their interest is linked to both southern and northern governments. So finding an ideal solution to this issue would be a priority” said Yasser Erman, the spokesperson of the Southern People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and head of its office in the North, in an interview with Ahram Online.
Erman was speaking during a visit to the poll stations in the North which saw a more than 15 per cent turnout in the first day.
The nature of the relationship between northern and southern Sudan after the seemingly inevitable secession is a question yet to be answered by the two sides.
Many issues will make their way onto the agenda if the South votes for secession and declares itself an independent state. Those concerns topping the list involve the flow of citizens back and forth across the borders and economic and trade relations.
Speaking to Ahram Online, Erman declared that Sudan could become a model country for peaceful coexistence, diversity and justice.
He believes that relations between North and South are inseparable, as both sides have the same security and strategic interest at the regional and local level.
Erman, one of the main authors of the 2005 peace agreement between North and South, argued that separation is not a goal but a mechanism to decentralise authority in order to achieve prosperity and welfare for peoples of both North and South.
“This cannot happen unless leaders in Sudan agree to create a political and economic bloc to make the best use of Sudan's resources” he added.
He also added that the SPLM wants Juba to be the capital of democracy, justice and respect for human rights in Africa and the Arab world.
One of Erman's main concerns is the SPLM offices in Khartoum which have witnessed “harassment by ruling National Conference Party (NCP) officials in the last few months”.
He added that the NCP’s policies of excluding other political players could lead to the destruction of the North. Erman emphasised that these policies must change if the South becomes an independent state.