Sudan's Bashir to visit Juba - possibly for the last time

Asmaa Husseini, Monday 3 Jan 2011

Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir will visit Juba, the capital of South Sudan, on Tuesday, as opposition parties plan how to bring down his government

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (R) talks to Vice President Ali Osman Taha 31 December 2010. (Reuters)

Mostafa Osman Ismail, an advisor to President Bashir, said that Bashir's upcoming visit to the south is within the context of his insistence to oversee the referendum procedure himself.

He added that Bashir's talks with Salva Kiir (President of Southern Sudan's government) will revolve on preserving interests regardless of the referendum's consequences. The meeting should have a positive effect according to Ismail.

Sources from the South, which preferred to remain anonymous, said that Bashir's visit may be his last chance to sway southerners to remain united with the North. They predict that he will repeat his pledge to recognize the results of the referendum as long as the process is transparent.

Bashir had issued directives for all of Sudan to be secure during the referendum on southern self-determination and on the importance of the safety and security of southerners and their property in the North.

Sudan's interior minister, Ibrahim Mahmoud, announced that 17,500 police officers had been dispatched from Khartoum. He added that the North's ministry and the South's police are coordinating on the matter.

In Juba, the People's Liberation Army proclaimed it was fully prepared to secure the South and its borders with neighbouring countries during the referendum.

Prominent sources in Sudan's opposition affirmed that opposition leaders will, in their Wednesday meeting, seek to mobilize the public against the government. This would take the form of campaigns, protests, general strikes and marches. They added that this would escalate with the secession of the South.

In response, the police's director general, Hashem Osman, warned those who are calling for marches in the streets under slogans of change and populism saying "whoever wants to take to the streets should try; I would like it if they would try."

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