THIS JANUARY, SOUTHERN SUDAN WILL VOTE in a referendum to determine whether the region remains part of the country or becomes a new, independent nation. The referendum was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) agreed to after twenty years of civil war, which ended in 2005.
Now, word comes that Sudan is delaying voter registration just as the international diplomacy machine, led by the U.N., prepares to visit Sudan next week. The countdown to the referendum is about 100 days.
Meanwhile a host of interrelated problems loom. Southern Sudanese living in the North worry about forced expulsions and fears of another war. And there is also the ongoing crisis in Darfur.
The Sudanese government is likely to take advantage of the international community’s preoccupation with the upcoming referendum and shift attention away from Darfur, said Laura Jones and Omer Ismail of Enough Project. Reporting for The Christian Science Monitor, Jones asserted that the situation will worsen “if the international community doesn’t stop addressing one challenge in Sudan at the expense of the other.”
During Sudan’s deadly civil war, in which 2 million were killed and 4 million displaced, Darfur dominated headlines. As is usually the case with high-profile crises, celebrities got involved, organizing nonprofits and becoming outspoken advocates to bring pressure for a solution.
Today that crisis shows no signs of improving. According to Human Rights Watch, fighting between rebel groups and the government has again increased. Sanctions could be ahead if humanitarian access and improved security are not part of the new Sudan.
To follow local news about the upcoming referendum, The Sudan Tribune is an independent site based in France with good coverage of all sides of the story.
Sudan.Net provides coverage from English and Arabic language sources.
Organizations and Campaigns
Sudan365 is a global campaign focussed on the referendum and wants to ensure that human rights are protected going forward. Their current media campaign is the “Beat for Peace”: