On the 9th of July 2011 the world witnessed the birth of its youngest republic, South Sudan, which thus becomes the 54th country in Africa and 193rd member state of the United Nations.
Several efforts were undertaken, from the persistence, sacrifice and determination of the people of South Sudan, to the international pressure on the Khartoum regime – up to pressure applied on the conscience of North Sudan to pursue a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The efforts made, the results of which made possible the referendum on the self-determination of South Sudan which enabled the birth of the new country, deserve the applause of the whole world and should prompt the international community to ask questions about other conflicts and political disputes based on self-determination and to apply the same methods as were used to avoid the slaughter and intolerance seen in these cases as we see for decades in Cabinda – the victim of the Luanda Regime.
From the resolution of the Sudanese conflict we can, among other things, draw some lessons and make some observations and draw some conclusions common to other conflicts and disputes due to people’s right to self-determination.
Firstly, the burial of the principle that territories inherited through colonialism are untouchable and the exaltation of the referendum as a way to solve conflicts arising from questions of self-determination. This has just been confirmed by the people of Sudan and South Sudan as a viable option for Africa in the resolution of political disputes of this kind, and such has happened in Asia with East Timor and in Europe with Kosovo, etc.
This option saves human lives and devalues the military option, that for example enabled the independence of Eritrea in 1991 after a devastating war, for two-year later in 1993 to organise a referendum on self-determination; it also puts an end to the arms-enforced subjection of territories under foreign occupation – such as Cabinda.
The referendum is not a synonym for independence; it is only a guarantee of free and conscious popular expression and therefore it must not be feared but allowed to do its work of conquering people’s hearts. It is also an exercise in democracy and a test of the good will and sense of responsibility of political leaders. If the people normally opt for independence it is because of the cruelty of the dominant regimes that subjugate them.
Secondly, the act registered in the South Sudan had as one of the principal actors Omar El Bashir, considered dictator and against whom there is a charge of war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court; a man reviled by many developed countries and seen as difficult to deal with.
However, Omar El Bashir gave a true lesson to the world by showing that bad men or those perceived to be, can change and without fear he embraced the good in order to be free of his past, after strong international pressure on him and the regime that he represents.
On the other hand the same developed countries that revile Omar El Bashir support, protect and fawn over regimes and presidents with nothing to learn from Omar El Bashir as regards cruelty, as we see with the regime of Luanda which occupies the territory of Cabinda against the will of the Cabindans who are being exterminated, repressed and pursued inside the territory of Cabinda and even in the neighbouring countries where many Cabindan people have found refuge.
The Cabindans are merely claiming their right to self-determination, as was the case in South Sudan. So, pressure can be and must be brought to bear on José Eduardo dos Santos following the example of Omar El Bashir, to stop the bloodshed and the repression in Cabinda and in neighbouring territories of Cabinda where the regime in Luanda is pursuing and murdering the Cabindan people.
Thirdly, the UN must not, under any circumstances, allow anywhere on our planet, including Cabinda, that the will and the determination of the people be subdued by the law of the strongest because there are mechanisms available for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and political disputes, which can be implemented without damaging anyone’s interests, because everything is subject to amendment, as can be seen today with North and South Sudan.
Human solidarity must transcend national frontiers and interests, and make for a successful, civilised and peaceful resolution of disputes, as this promotes human dignity and exalts universally defended values, especially those of the peace-loving, whose standard the West hoists. It also helps the people to speak peacefully as was seen in South Sudan. It would be just and honourable for humanity.
Fourthly, the firmness, determination of the people in the struggle – the forthrightness seriousness and clear-sightedness of the leaders who represent the struggle is essential for attaining the longed for results and to lessen the human damage. Salva Kiir did not defend personal interests, or those of his family or tribe but of the whole people of South Sudan.
Whatever may be the weakness of those who represent the people, it does not invalidate their cause. Self-determination is a right of the people and not of strong individuals.
Serious dialogue in a spirit of openness and free negotiation are what are most needed and most to be emphasised in all efforts towards resolving the Cabinda issue. Angola must end the corrupting game that it is playing, because it will never corrupt the whole people of Cabinda.
There must be an end to the corruption and the promotion of renegade individuals enslaved by Angola, who betray the efforts made by the people for their own profit and gain to the detriment of the collective dignity, as it is seen with those Cabindans who, whether openly or secretly, visit the palaces of the occupying regime to catch the crumbs that fall from the tables of his tenants, who are no different to those who harass the lives of the people of Cabinda which they once swore to defend and to serve; this can only delay the resolution of the struggle – but it will never be enough to crush the just cause of Cabinda.
These renegades of the struggle of Cabinda are simply seen as traitors who have opted to promote “the myth of a rich Angolan” in exchange for their dignity – a dignity they have lost by choosing not to continue as poor but worthy revolutionaries.
They are condemned by the saying “it is of more value to be a worthy poor person than a despicable rich man”.
But Cabinda will never surrender and will one day recover its dignity, alongside other nations and peoples.
Freedom, Justice, Peace and Progress are not the exclusive possession of a few but a right of all nations. Cabinda too deserves the right to expect that the international community will, as with South Sudan, take on its responsibilities, for the pride of humanity.