Sudan’s flag flapped in the wind outside the country’s embassy in London as a group of mostly northern Sudanese gathered to send out a message of sadness for the loss of part of their nation and a split from their ‘brothers and sisters’ in south Sudan. The rally was held a day after voting ended in a week-long referendum that is likely to see south Sudan become independent.
Some described a "heartfelt sadness" at the loss of a shared history with their compatriots in the south.
Tariq Elgady was among those who joined the rally. He says if southerners have voted to secede, it will be an understandable decision made after years of bad treatment, but he says he will mourn the loss. "I feel regretful that my large country is [falling] actually to pieces," said he.
Southern Sudanese voted in a referendum to decide if Africa’s largest country will split in two.
Vote counting has begun and from early results it looks like the vote has gone overwhelmingly in favor of an independent south.
A former Sudan Railways Company general manager, Hashim Mohamed Ahmed, attended the London rally. He says north Sudan will suffer without the southern region. Sudan is one of Africa’s major oil producers, but three-quarters of its oil reserves are in the south.
He says President Omar Al-Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup, will be blamed for having torn the country in two.
"For us politically also, this government should be held also responsible for losing part of this country."
London-based Sudanese economist Mohamed Ahmed Mansour says independence may be the best thing for those in the south. But he added that northerners will be left with the same repressive leadership he says they have suffered under al-Bashir.
"Still we are having the same problems in the north, especially regarding the current regime, which is actually still suppressing the people and there are no freedoms. And the future looks so bleak in the north."
But he says independence for the south could lead to change in the north.
"It depends on how the south itself will establish its state and how much freedom it is going to give to its people. And that, of course, definitely will be a motivation for the north to follow the example of the south. But if the south does not succeed actually in establishing [a] free and flourishing state, then the north probably will be disappointed actually."
The referendum was part of a peace deal signed in 2005 that ended two decades of civil war in Sudan. Final results are expected early next month.