Egyptian Foreign Minster Ahmed Abul Gheit's suggestion for a post-referendum confederation between Sudan’s North and South has been dismissed as “worthless” by Hassan al-Turabi, a prominent Sudanese opposition leader.
“The proposal is worthless because today’s world does not recognize inter-state confederations. Is the Egyptian foreign minister reading 19th century books?”, al-Turabi told al-Sharq, a Qatari newspaper. “If Sudan’s South opts for separation, it has the right to possess its own army and a seat at the United Nations. It’s either separation or unity, those are the only choices provided by the constitution.”
Sudan's possible break-up will cause no damage to Egypt's water security interests, according to al-Turabi, unless tensions are stirred by the North. “If provoked by North Sudan, South Sudan will side with Nile Basin countries [against Egypt],” he argued.
Abul Gheit had recommended last week that Sudan establish a confederation between the North and South–with each side maintaining military and diplomatic representation on the other’s soil–as a way out of the current dilemma.
Egypt strongly favors Sudanese unity due to its vital interests in that country, especially those related to the Nile river. The prospect of separation has generated fears over Egypt's annual water share (55.5 billion square meters), which it has enjoyed since signing an agreement with Sudan in 1959.