Thursday, November 25, 2010

South Sudan vote

I got a chance to visit South Sudan to get a first hand look at the hopes and expectation that have arisen as Sudan prepares to go to the ballot box that will most probably see the split of Africa’s biggest nation

Many returning refugees such as Deng see the upcoming referendum as the ultimate crowning moment to years of healing and reconstruction by once an ailing region.
“We have fought and lost loved ones, many of us the only thing we can remember is the heartaches we went through and I do not want to see my children grow up like I did” said Deng.

Deng added that the referendum is Southerners golden chance for total independence and the residents there are prepared to see that happens. “If not for us then we are doing it for those who have lost their lives fighting for the independence and our children”

On January 9, 2011, the people of southern Sudan will vote in a referendum for self-determination, which is expected to result in the secession of the South.

Speaking to Deng and majority of other Sudanese you can hear the bitterness in their voices and the great urge to separate from the North.
“If this does happen we are prepared for war.

There is no way we can go back and start negotiating with the same people that have made us slaves, denied us equal rights and even killed majority of our families” said Deng
The ruling National Congress party looks set to romp back to power in the wake of an opposition boycott that challenges the credibility of the first multiparty elections in 24 years.

These are polls fraught with challenges and left in turmoil by partial boycotts by a number of opposition parties.

Fearing that their participation in the election would simply bestow legitimacy on a regime accused of conspiring to rig the results, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), south Sudan's ruling party and partner in the national coalition, announced a selective boycott.

Some of the north's major opposition parties are partially boycotting the polls too.
It is, however, SPLM's boycott of the polls that has raised eyebrows the most.
Salva Kiir, the SPLM leader and Sudan's vice-president, declined to run against Bashir and also withdrew his party's candidate for the national presidency, Yasir Arman, at the last minute, signalling his preference for secession in a referendum planned next year.

The party also withdrew its parliamentary candidates for constituencies in all but two regions of the north.

Five years of a power sharing agreement have no doubt left al-Bashir's National Congress party (NCP) and the SPLM distrustful of each other.

SPLM's boycott is also seen as a reaffirmation that the divisions between the largely Muslim north and the mainly Christian and animist south appear unbridgeable.
The referendum is part of the 2005 peace deal that brought to an end more than two decades of civil war fought over ethnicity, oil, religion and resources.

More than two million people died in the conflict between the Arab-dominated, Muslim government in the capital, Khartoum, and rebels from the marginalized south, where most are Christians or follow traditional beliefs.

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