(A conversation in a minibus.
'Will the south really vote for independence?'
Me: Yes, the people I have spoken, the majority seem to say they will.
'I think it is just the politicians who say that."
Me: I don't think so.
'You don't know about Sudan, you are not Sudanese.'
Me: Silence, a fair point. Then a reply: 'Have you been to the south recently?'
"No, never. But I know they will vote for unity. It is the only choice that is right." )
There appears a worrying disconnect in the north of the intentions of the south. Will that lead to angry reactions in Khartoum when the "inevitable" (US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 8th September) happens and the south say "freedom"?
Perhaps one sign things are changing.
South Sudan has long issued its own travel permits, that began as visas to the SPLA held areas (the 'liberated areas') during the war. They only operate in areas under the southern government's control.
Or one can, like I have, struggle through the sweaty bureaucracy and long days in the police immigration office in Juba and get an expensive, official, year-long Sudan residence permit slapped in the passport.
This time the permit was my third in my passport. But it was the first time that on arrival in Khartoum from Juba that plain clothed security marched me to their office and said that visas issued in Juba were no longer valid in the north.
Is this still not one country, I asked?
Yes, said the security officer. Not when it comes to the south's ability to issue visas it seems however.
In the past the visa was valid, I pointed out.
Before there were not these orders, the officer replied, waving a sheaf of documents.
Somethings, however, haven't changed: a random fine in of 250 Sudanese pounds (about a hundred dollars) still got me entry into the north (no receipt, no, no receipt).
It hardly bodes well for north-south relations if Khartoum has withdrawn the right of the south to issue visas for travel.