The leader of the Khartoum regime, incidentally wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, attended a celebratory function last week, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the signing of the CPA in the southern Sudanese town of Yambio – not far from the border with the Congo DR.
In an apparent pre-election mood already, Gen. Bashir then promised the large crowd that should the south vote for independence in the referendum in early 2011, he would be “the first to recognize the new country.” This reportedly drew the thundering applause of the southern Sudanese present in Yambio, as well as of the assembled SPLM/A leadership and their allies, as it is the first such commitment made in public by Khartoum that they would indeed respect a yes vote and let the south go its own way.
Meanwhile, campaigns are now looming across the entire Sudan, with elections due in April, and sources from within the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism have affirmed that visitors to the southern Sudan’s national parks will be welcome during the campaign and during election time, as business will continue as normal.
Said one source preferring not to be named: “Even when we campaign and then vote, our visitors are most welcome. Why would we close the borders or airports? It will be business as usual. We need your visitors; we need more of them, to come see our parks and invest in southern Sudan. It is bad propaganda to say we will shut borders and not let anyone in or out – that is rubbish. You are here a lot, so please tell your friends and write that southern Sudan is open as normal. Uganda is not closing borders because of elections or campaigns; why should we? please tell everyone.”
Message glady delivered, my friend.