Sudan braces for referendum

15 December 2010 by Koert Lindijer

Justice has always been a rare commodity in Sudan, and the imminent divorce between North and South Sudan will not necessarily lead to democracy and more human rights. Southern Sudan will be a fragile state and the North will probably become more autocratic. Meanwhile, the war in Darfur may even reignite. 

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2001 by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army and the government in Khartoum had two major components: democratisation in the whole of Sudan and a referendum in the South about its future status. When the last hurdles are smoothed out, the referendum will take place in January and the Southern Sudanese most likely will vote for independence.

In light of the upcoming separation, the Darfur rebels are re-positioning themselves. Denied access to neighboring Chad since a peace deal earlier this year between Khartoum and N’Djamena, the rebels are reportedly moving into areas of South Sudan. In a development that may give an indication of things to come once South Sudan is independent, the Northern army is bombarding these Darfuri insurgents in the South.

The relations between the then insurgents of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the South and their rebel colleagues in Darfur were frosty for years. But in the last three years their contact has significantly improved. The SPLA and several rebel movements in Darfur face, for now, a common adversary in Khartoum.

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