Global Policy Forum

Bashir Rules Out Dual Citizenship for Southerners

With early indications that South Sudan has voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence, the practicalities of creating a new nation must be considered.  One important issue is citizenship.  The president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, said prior to the referendum that if South Sudan secedes, its citizens will not be able to maintain any citizenship rights in North Sudan, including dual-citizenship.  Discriminatory citizenship rules risk barring some Sudanese from accessing essential services and may give rise to statelessness.

January 8, 2011

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on Friday made it clear that there is no prospect for Southerners living in the North to have dual citizenship if the referendum vote comes in favor of creating a new state.

The oil-producing south is due to vote in a referendum starting on Sunday on whether to secede. Voters are widely expected to back secession.

"Of course, to be very frank self determination is deciding on the fate of is not self determination for the South.....shall it be one state or two states. This right was given exclusively to the Southern citizen," Bashir told the Doha-based Al-Jazeera TV in an interview.

"If they [Southerners] decide to divide Sudan into two states and establishing their own country in South Sudan and at the same time want to retain their citizenship in North Sudan and enjoy all the rights...if this is their desire then let Sudan remain united" he added.

The Sudanese leader it is "illogical" for Southerners to call for creation of their own state seek citizenship rights in the North at the same time.

"They [Southerners] claim that they were marginalized, we were second class citizens. [So we say] in order for you not to be marginalized and second class citizen there is no reason for you to have the nationality of a country that is marginalizing you," Bashir said.

He further said that Southerners who he said account for 20% of civil service in the North will have to be laid off but stressed that they will receive "their full rights".

"The Northern citizen will not accept to see Southerners occupying 20% of the civil service at a time when they were the ones who split Sudan," Bashir said.

"So we are not talking about dual citizenship. On our end we say this is out of question," the Sudanese president added.

Bashir said however that an arrangement should be implemented that entails granting citizens of the North and South rights of work, residency, ownership and visa-free entry on both sides.

Asked whether Southerners will be treated like foreigners with certain rights after secession his response was "Yes".

The Sudanese president said an idea that IS currently explored is establishing an accord that governs relations between the two states on a number of crucial areas.

"As two authorities in the North and the South are required to maintain the [special] relationship and institutionalize it.....through agreements, maybe laws and even a constitution that would amplify the benefits in the relationship that exists between the two sides," he said.

"We are not speaking now about joint defense. But there are now discussions about establishing a union between two partners to look for joint interests in security and economics and development like the European Union," he said.

On Thursday, Sudan's former vice president Joseph Lagu said that north and South need a common authority to coordinate political and economic issues after secession.

"For me I have proposed a kind of common Sudanese authority to link the south and the north together," Lagu, a southerner and an adviser to South Sudan's President Silva Kiir, said.

"Presidents of south Sudan and north Sudan, their foreign ministers, their interior and defence ministers (should) hold periodical meetings ... to continue to iron out any minor problems and to emphasize on issues that are common to us so that our two countries can ...forge ahead."


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