Southern Sudan is currently conducting a referendum and the voting exercise has been scheduled to run from January fifth to fifteenth 2011. The referendum is being conducted after a consensus between the North and the South on the modalities of power sharing between the two blocks had been set (The Kansas City Star). The out come of the referendum will determine whether the Southern Sudan citizens will gain their independence, that they have fought for over the last few decades, or continue being part of Sudan (The Kansas City Star).
The exercise has attracted a great international attention characterized by a high presence of international diplomats and journalists who are keenly observing the process.
The Referendum Process
The Southern Sudanese citizens have demonstrated a great sense of nationalism since the beginning of the voting exercise by turning out in large numbers to vote in various polling centers (The Kansas City Star). The polling centers have also been extended to neighboring countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda among other counties which have a considerable number of Sudan citizens. This is meant to give the Southern Sudan citizens in these countries a chance to participate in the exercise.
According to the Kansas City news paper report on Sudan referendum, the Sudan government and its party are ready to consent the outcome of the referendum. This comment was made by Ibrahim Ghandour and it has reduced the speculation that the government would probably disown the results of the referendum (The Kansas City Star). On the other hand, Omar al-Bashir who is the current president of Sudan has however had mixed reactions about the process saying that it would possibly compromise peace between the Northern and Southern Sudan regions. Nevertheless, he has promised that as long as the whole process is conducted fairly the Southern Sudan block will be free to be autonomous (The Kansas City Star). Although the referendum is being carried out in various parts of Southern Sudan, the hotly contested Abeyi region which is popularly known for having rich deposits of oil “the black gold” has actually been left out in the referendum race due to unresolved residential and demarcation disputes (The Kansas City Star). The Abeyi region was to have a parallel referendum at the same time to determine if it should be part of the South or the North. However, this has been shelved until the mentioned disputes are ratified.
Cases of escalating violence have been recently reported in this region owing to the current high political temperature in the region (Garang). It has also been reported that Northern militia groups have been lynching the southerners along the border of Khartoum (Garang). The US government has pledged to give the current Sudan government which operates from Khartoum splendid incentives should it accept the outcome of the process (Garang). The news paper report has also revealed that close to two million lives have been claimed since the beginning of the conflict between the North and the South which has now lasted for well over two decades. If Southern Sudan gains independence, it will bring under its control a large territory with rich oil deposits and this can best explain why the Northerners have always been reluctant to separate from the Southerners (The Kansas City Star). The removal of Sudan from the file of countries that fund terrorists and rebels is likely to start once they accept the outcome of the referendum.
Until the final results of the referendum shall have been released in a few days to come, one cannot make conclusive remark that the Southerners have gained their independence.
However, owing to the current situation on the ground coupled with positive media reports about the whole process it is evident that the outcome will be good. Thus the Southerners are likely to gain the independence they have always longed for. The Southern Sudan citizens have also envisaged better opportunities should they gain independence (The Kansas City Star).
Garang, Joseph. “Sudan bishop speaks about referendum, international partnerships”. Anglican Journal.com. 06 Jan.
2011. Web. 15 Jan. 2011. The Kansas City Star.
“Sudan: ruling party ready for south’s independence”. The Kansas City Star. 14 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Jan. 2011.