A group of Sudanese intellectuals, public figures and artists will launch an initiative promoting the managed and limited secession of South Sudan without the holding of the referendum scheduled for 9 January 2011, in order to avoid any possible descent into civil war following the vote, a source has told Ahram Online.
The initiative comes amid internal tension and Western concerns after Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir said Sunday that the country's north will reinforce Islamic law, or Sharia, if the south chooses independence in the referendum.
"If South Sudan secedes, we'll change the constitution. There will be no question of cultural or ethnic diversity. Sharia will be the only source of the constitution, and Arabic the only official language," Bashir said in a speech aired on national television.
The source describes the new initiative of Sudanese intellectuals as the only way to save the blood of the Sudanese people. The initiative proposes that the governments of north and south Sudan agree to cancel the referendum and establish a confederation of two independent states.
The proposed confederation would entail two independent countries sharing governance institutions, market and currency. All citizens, north and south, would be permitted to choose between dual nationality or that of one of the states.
For the Abbei region, which should vote next year on whether to join the south or the north, the draft initiative suggests that it enjoy autonomy and be the capital of the new confederation.