(Photo: Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses a rally in Gedaref, December 19, 2010/stringer)
Sudan will adopt an Islamic constitution if the south splits away in a referendum next month, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Sunday. The vote on independence for south Sudan is scheduled to start in three weeks and was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the south, where most follow traditional beliefs and Christianity.
“If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity,” the president told supporters at a rally in the eastern city of Gedaref. “Sharia (Islamic law) and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language,” he said.
An official from south Sudan’s main party criticised Bashir’s stance, saying it would encourage discrimination against minorities in the north and deepen the country’s international isolation.
The 2005 peace deal ending the civil war set up an interim constitution which limited sharia to the north and recognised “the cultural and social diversity of the Sudanese people.”
Analysts expect most southerners to choose independence in the poll, due to start on January 9 and last for a week. Read the full story by Khaled Abdel Aziz here.