See also:
31.01.2011 - It is official: South Sudan to secede
17.01.2011 - South Sudan referendum "a success"
16.11.2010 - UN "deeply concerned" about Sudan referendum
21.10.2010 - 1.5m Sudanese being moved from north to south
07.10.2010 - Sudan referendum timetable spells trouble
14.07.2010 - "Sudan unprepared for independence vote"
16.06.2010 - Sigh of relief over new Sudan unity govt
21.04.2010 - Sudan election results censored











buy from China
South Sudan | Sudan
Politics

South Sudan: historic vote or new conflict?

UN helicopter delivers voter registration materials to the remote southern Sudanese town Torit in advance of the referendum

Tim McKulka/UN Photo/afrol News
afrol News / Africa Renewal, 10 December
- With Sudan moving towards a referendum to determine whether the south remains part of the country or secedes, the international community has launched a major diplomatic push to keep the troubled process on track.

The referendum in southern Sudan, together with a separate poll on the status of the disputed oil centre of Abyei, is scheduled for 9 January 2011, in less than one month.

The votes are the centrepiece of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM) that ended more than two decades of civil war in the south. More than 2 million people died during the conflict and some 4.6 million were driven from their homes.

Granting the southern Sudanese the right to self-determination was an extraordinary provision on a continent where colonial-era borders are considered untouchable. The complex accord also established an interim national unity government, including a regional government in southern Sudan headed by the SPLM.

In addition, the accord set a formula for revenue sharing between north and south, allowed residents of the border town of Abyei to choose whether to affiliate with north or south, created a local power sharing formula in two violence-stricken border states and established lasting ceasefire and security arrangements.

"A ticking time bomb"
The 2005 peace agreement envisioned that implementation of the plan would "make unity attractive" to southerners and perhaps persuade them to stay part of Sudan. But after nearly six years and the presence of more than 30,000 peacekeeping troops in two separate missions - in southern Sudan and Darfur - tensions remain high and the prospects for unity have grown dimmer.

Most observers now expect that the southern Sudanese will vote for independence, and are uncertain about the Khartoum government's response. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Sudan as "a ticking time bomb" in September.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned world leaders in New York that delays in preparations for the south Sudanese and Abyei polls were jeopardising the scheduled date of 9 January. "The Sudanese people cannot afford a resumption of conflict," he said. "The stakes are high, for Sudan, for Africa, for the international community."

Since then there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity, includ

UN training police forces in the remote southern Sudanese town Torit

Tim McKulka/UN Photo/afrol News
ing establishment of a UN panel to monitor preparations for the referenda headed by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa. The UN Security Council sent a mission to Sudan headed by US Ambassador Susan Rice, and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague chaired a high-level Security Council meeting on Sudan in November.

Signs of progress
Africa has also ramped up its diplomacy. In mid-November, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the head of an African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, announced a "framework agreement" by the parties to resolve an array of post-referendum issues that are contributing to the tensions. These include the demarcation of borders, citizenship and civil rights issues, the resolution of longstanding ethnic, land and political disputes in Abyei and, most critically, a formula for revenue sharing in the event of southern independence.

About 80 percent of the petroleum reserves in Sudan, Africa's third largest producer, are located in the south, and agreement on the allocation of oil revenue is considered vital to the success of the referendum and to future north-south relations.

Speakers at the November UN Security Council meeting welcomed the launch of voter registration in South Sudan and noted that senior officials from both sides had affirmed their commitment to peacefully resolve remaining problems and respect the will of the voters.

But such signs of progress were tempered by reminders of the remaining challenges. The continuing conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur is chief among them, as is the threat of violence over the continuing political deadlock over Abyei.

The UN Security Council is considering increasing the number of peacekeepers with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in the south during the voting and UN humanitarian officials are seeking US$ 63 million to stockpile relief supplies in the event of civil unrest.

"The coming months are likely to be difficult for the people of Sudan," Mr Ban told the UN Security Council. "The government of Sudan, the government of southern Sudan and the referenda commissions must rise to this challenge," he added.


- Create an e-mail alert for South Sudan news
- Create an e-mail alert for Sudan news
- Create an e-mail alert for Politics news


 
    Printable version


On the Afrol News front page now

Rwanda
Rwanda succeeds including citizens in formal financial sector

afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
South Sudan | Sudan
Famine warning: "South Sudan is imploding"

afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
Guinea
Panic in West Africa after Ebola outbreak in Guinea

afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia tightens its already strict anti-gay laws

afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia plans Africa's biggest dam

afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.



front page | news | countries | archive | currencies | news alerts login | about afrol News | contact | advertise | español 

©  afrol News. Reproducing or buying afrol News' articles.

   You can contact us at mail@afrol.com