South Sudan referendum: 99% vote for independence

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by pmaitra, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    South Sudan referendum: 99% vote for independence

    30 January 2011; BBC News

    Some 99% of South Sudanese voted to secede from the north, according to the first complete results of the region's independence referendum.

    A total of 99.57 percent of those polled voted for independence, according to the referendum commission.

    Early counting had put the outcome of the ballot beyond doubt, indicating Southern Sudan had secured a mandate to become the world's newest nation.

    The poll was agreed as part of a 2005 peace deal to end two decades of war.

    Final results from the 9-15 January vote, which Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said he will accept, are expected early next month.

    If the result is confirmed, the new country is set to formally declare its independence on 9 July.

    Hundreds of officials and diplomats gathered in Juba at the grave of rebel leader John Garang for the first official announcement of the results.

    'The prayer of a country'

    The revered South Sudanese leader died in a plane crash just days after signing the January 2005 peace agreement ending more than 20 years of conflict between the black Christian-dominated south and the mainly Arab Muslim north.

    "The prayer I say the people of Southern Sudan have been waiting for for 55 years, the prayer of a country," Episcopalian Archbishop Daniel Deng said as he opened the ceremony.

    "Bless the name of this land, Southern Sudan," he said.

    According to the commission website, 3,851,994 votes were cast during the week-long ballot.

    Five of the 10 states in Sudan's oil-producing south showed a 99.9% vote for separation, the lowest vote was 95.5% in favour in the western state of Bahr al-Ghazal, bordering north Sudan, Reuters reports.

    North and south Sudan have suffered decades of conflict driven by religious and ethnic divides.

    Southern Sudan is one of the least developed areas in the world and many of its people have have long complained of mistreatment at the hands of the Khartoum government.

    The BBC's James Copnall, in Khartoum, says independence for the South now seems inevitable.

    Our correspondent adds that though the South Sudanese are celebrating that their dream of having their own country is a massive step closer there are still issues to resolved - including underdevelopment and inter-ethnic conflict.

    Tough negotiations remain on how to divide up economic resources between north and south - which has the bulk of oil, he adds.

    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12317927
     
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  3. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Although the south will be cut off from the sea, it gets most of Sudan's arable land. About 70% of North Sudan would be desert.

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    Surprisingly, South Sudan would also end up with most of the oil reserves.
     
  4. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    They better name the country something else.. it sounds pretty dumb to have just North and South to differentiate.
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Q&A: Southern Sudan referendum

    Q&A: Southern Sudan referendum

    4 January 2011; BBC News

    Almost four million people have registered to take part in Sunday's referendum on whether Africa's biggest country - Sudan - should split in two. The vote was a condition of a 2005 deal to end almost two decades of conflict between north and south.

    Why do some southerners want their own country?

    Like the rest of Africa, Sudan's borders were drawn up by colonial powers with little regard to cultural realities on the ground.

    Southern Sudan is full of jungles and swamps, while the north is mostly desert.

    Most northerners are Arabic-speaking Muslims, while the south is made up of numerous different ethnic groups who are mostly Christian or follow traditional religions.

    With the government based in the north, many southerners said they were discriminated against and north and south have fought each other for most of the country's history. Southerners were also angered at attempts to impose Islamic law on the whole country.

    Who will vote?

    Only southerners are eligible to take part in the poll, which means most people think the outcome is bound to be independence.

    Nearly all of those who registered already live in the south - the hundreds of thousands of people who fled to the north during the war seem to have either gone home to register - as they were urged to do by southern leaders - or not bothered.

    But at least 60% of registered voters must take part for the referendum to be valid - with low literacy levels and little history of voting, this may be more difficult to achieve than the simple majority needed for a verdict either way.

    What happens next?

    Voting lasts for seven days.

    Assuming that the verdict is to secede, Africa's newest country will come into being on 9 July 2011 - exactly six years after the peace deal took effect. Then the hard work really begins.

    Is Southern Sudan ready for independence?

    To be brutally honest, no.

    After years of warfare and being ignored by central government, the country-to-be which is larger than Spain and Portugal combined has hardly any roads and not nearly enough schools or health services for its population of roughly eight million.

    The SPLM former rebels who have been running the region since 2005 have at least gained some experience of governance.

    They have lots of money from the south's oil fields but their critics say they have so far wasted much of it on the military and not done enough to raise living standards in one of the world's poorest regions.

    They have drawn up ambitious plans to develop their cities and have decided the winner of a competition to compose a new national anthem. The south's own flag is already on display across the region.

    Most people assume the new country will be called South, or Southern, Sudan but this has not been officially decided. Other suggestions are New Sudan or even Cush, after a biblical kingdom in the area.

    What will happen to the north?

    The immediate priority for the northern government will be to keep hold of as much of the oil revenue as it can, as most oil fields lie in the south.

    There is a dispute over one oil-rich area - Abyei - which is to hold a separate vote, possibly later this year, on which country to join. The north may also earn revenue from piping the oil over its territory to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

    In terms of ordinary people's lives, both sides have agreed to let all Sudanese - in particular the many southerners in Khartoum - choose which nationality to take.

    But President Bashir's announcement that he will implement a stricter version of Sharia in the north if the south secedes may prompt even more southerners to leave the north.

    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12111730

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  6. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Just as you mentioned, they will still be dependent on the North given current oil infrastructure. They are landlocked, and will have to access the sea through either the North or Ethiopia. They have plans to build a pipeline leading to Kenya.
     
  7. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    Alas the shadow boxing between the superpowers continues. Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo appear to be next.
     

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