Monday, 20 December 2010

President Omar Al-Bashir says Islamic laws to be enforced if South-Sudan splits

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has said that if South-Sudan decides on independence in next month's referendum, the country will reinforce its Islamic laws. He said that constitution would also be altered, to make Islam the only religion, Sharia the only law and Arabic the official language within the region.

"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," said al-Bashir on national television.

It is expected that al-Bashir's assertion may cause moral panic among thousands of non-Muslim southerners living in the north of the country. Previous attempts to impose Sharia laws on non-Muslim southerners resulted in civil war, which ended when a peace treaty was penned in 2005.

The treaty stipulated the upcoming referendum and an agreement between the north and the south for an interim constitution that considered both Islamic and Christian social and cultural values. Subsequently, Arabic and English were recognized as the official languages within Sudan and will remain so until July 2011.

And official from Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Yasir Arman said that Bashir's comments are likely to cause repression in the north.

“This type of discourse is preparing the ground for a police state. The north, whether alone or with the south, is an extremely diverse place," Arman added.

South Sudan's referendum, expected to take place on January 9th 2011, will determined the future of the largely Christian population in the region. It is expected that the southerners will vote for independence, however, there have been calls form the likes of Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi for the country to remain unified.

The head of UN peacekeeping, Alain LeRoy, said that although the situation in Southern Sudan appears to have stabilised the region remains fragile. He also noted that the security situation could become compromised during and after the referendum.

Sources: BBC News, Press TV, Guardian

For more news and expert analysis about the Sahara region, please see Sahara Focus.

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