They used to push and shove Sudanese Airways aircraft at the airport as they would do to an abandoned taxi. The airlines people were so inept that once when I flew from Khartoum to Blantyre, we nearly left with the fuel nearly on empty.
This is why adding three more days to the polling in Sudan was not a surprise as it was more or less a Sudanese way of life.
But now that the result of the elections is a foregone conclusion that President Omar al-Bashir is back on the saddle, analysts are moving towards assessing whether the referendum in the south scheduled for next year will come off.
It is unfortunate that th excitement of a highly contested polls was rubbed off with the decision of leading political players not in the race but it is far from being the end of the story.
The south has succeeded to show that it is more interested in the upcoming
referendum than the general election itself.
What’s good would the election be when we are planning to secede and go our own way,” Southern Sudanese politicians are muttering.
The ground-breaking rule however is what would be the tune of al-Bashir towards the secession when he has had such a triumphant endorsement and whether there would not be the temptation for him to halt the desert caravan.
The grim prospect is that foxy al-Bashir could say things have changed and new rules would have to be set parting around the thinking that the African Union frowns on breaking the continent into bits and pieces.
Talk to any Southern Sudanese on whether the secession should be considered and the deep frown on the face will tell you to back-off the subject.
For them, there is no compromise. The irony of it all is that unlike the Casamance and Northern Somalia where there are raging elements for secession, South Sudan has a greater chance to succeed and the referendum will only seal the deal.
Whether al-Bashir and his National Congress Party would risk drawing the carpet from under the south remains debatable but the backlash and ensuring furor short of a resumption of full scale war cannot be ruled out.
Remember it took 20 years of multiple civil wars between 1956 and 1972 and from 1983 to 2005 killing some 1.5 million people to quell the tide.
Also in the swing remains the issue of Darfur where al-Bashir’s diehards (the janjaweeds) have made their favour watering hole to plunder, rape, maimed and kill.
He set the rules of the UN engagement with African Union troops to police the peace that is constantly under threat. Would he now slacken the rope so that he who holds the rope does not control the movement of the cow?
Low-level militants in the south believe it is possible for al-Bashir to let go as the general elections already made hin an odds-on winner.
What the south is searching for is the politics of identity. Dodgy African politicians are skating around the problem saying ”let’s get over the election result first and then we zero in on the referendum.”
Faced with the prospects of donor governments nibbling their aid budgets to a trickle and with unfavorable demographic shifts, developing nations should not depend too much in international largesse.
The south can escape such a trauma with its huge oil wealth which it claimed had benefitted the north more than the south because the north remains the shark.
Would the north remain cross-eyed over the oil deposits which classified Sudan as Africa’s third biggest oil producer?
As things are at the moment, politicians in Sudan are busy playing the fiddle.
By Rod Mac-Johnson