The January 9-15 referendum in the hitherto autonomous region has proved that Southern Sudan is all set to be enlisted in the group of nations that have seceded from their mother countries.
The significance of the development cannot be underestimated. The referendum has split Africa's biggest country between the mostly Arab and Muslim north, and the mostly black and Christian or animist south. The remarkable feature of this split which would materialize by July, 2011 is that Southern Sudan will run away with the oil-rich sections. Predictably, this has sparked off apprehensions of large scale violence as Sudan has lived through civil wars in the recent times.
Secession in Africa and the rest of the world over has a long interesting history. The trend, which started in the Latin America in the early 1820s, has seen the number of countries in the world swell over the years, especially in the last 50-60 years. During this period, countries have seceded for various reasons from the grave and absurd to the mundane.
We hav our experience of creation of Pakistan out of mother India and then pakistan too split creating Bangladesh.
Again, way back in 1861, the southern states of the United States moved for secession. The establishment of a conglomerate known as the Confederate States of America by the southern states, comprising South Carolina, Georgia, Mississipi, Texas, Florida and Alabama, in 1861 led to the American Civil War of 1861-1865. The split of USSR was another pathbreaking chapter in the last century.
However, old school history experts say, the earliest known breakaway in the modern world was the secession of Venezuela from Colombia in 1830.
Thus the split of Sudan has left greater significance for Indian foreign policy think tank and the decision makers as India is extensively engaged with Africa and highly values its relations with the region.
On the part of African nations too, New Delhi is now taken more seriously than in the past.
India will have to weigh all the options very minutely as it has firmly resolved to commit itself sincerely for “stability” in the Sudan region. Predictably, India will be too keen for a peaceful development of African including Sudan region – that includes the new country – “irrespective of the outcome of the referendum”.
Thus, stagnancy on the Sudan front by Indian government would not be feasible. Thus, the government of India would have to delve a little deeper and try to focus on specifics – on how to make the tight rope walking between Sudan’s ties with India as much as India’s relations with the new country, Southern Sudan.
The age old ties with Sudan have been cemented in the new millennium with people to people contacts, higher emphasis on trade and commerce, investments and a broad strategic views. The fundamental guiding principle would be that in no way New Delhi should be seen “siding with one country against the other”.
But they admit, its easier said than done. It is much easier to maintain a friendly relation with a country than maintaining it with two countries created out of vitriolic cessation out of one.