The most important international political event occurring this week is arguably the independence referendum in southern Sudan. Despite clashes a couple of days ago along the border separating the north and south, which left dozens dead, the New York Times reports that voting is peaceful. As The Globe and Mail’s Geoffrey York notes, while the referendum may ultimately lead to a new state being created in the south, the cost “has been horrific.”
Southern Sudan has been consumed by devastating wars for most of the past half-century. An estimated 2.5 million people have perished in those wars, with atrocities on all sides that were shocking in their cruelty.
After decades of indifference by most of the world, the irony is that Southern Sudan suddenly became a fashionable cause over the past decade. Its oil exports became lucrative, forcing the north and south to try to settle their conflict in order to protect their revenue flows. Simultaneously, there was a rapid escalation of U.S. diplomatic pressure on both sides, including the threat of sanctions – partly because evangelical Christian lobbyists had persuaded Congress that it needed to protect the south’s Christians from Muslim persecution.
Here’s a fascinating set of maps creating by the BBC to show that the north and south of Sudan differ in more than simply ethnicity and oil wealth.
Here’s a report from Al Jazeera about some of the important issues related to the referendum:
3 thoughts on “Independence Referendum in Southern Sudan”
After millions of deaths and displaced people, the South Sudanese population certainly knows what is important for her. As a new country, Sudaneses’s will have to learn to live together and share the responsibilities of being a state as one free nation (with multiple ethnicities) in order to face the multiple challenges that will follow. Hope that the ‘’oil’’ issue will not engender another battle for the next two decades and that religious differences will not undermine the cohabitation with their neighbors. On one side, each country needs a peaceful neighborhood in order to survive and progress. On another side, this future country was helped by different external actors guided by more than just political philanthropy. With a resource such as oil, a strategic geographical position for a probable’’ military base’’ and so forth, South Sudan next challenge will be to manage this multiplicity of future politico-economic partners. For the rest, they should just keep the name Sudan (balad as-sūdaan) which literary means ‘’Country of the blacks’’ in Arabic. See: http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/STE_SUS/SUDAN_Arabic_Bilad_es_Sudan_cou.html
Thank you for the link, Elizabeth Jane!
Brilliant photos from the vote have been posted on Boston: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/01/a_historic_vote_in_sudan.html.
Comments are closed.