News / Africa

Report Urges African Consensus on Sudan Referendum

Michael Onyiego

As Sudan moves closer to a referendum that could split the country in two, the pressure is building on the African community to ensure the credibility of the process and prevent conflict from spilling over into the region.

Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold a referendum in January to determine whether it remains part of larger Sudan or forms a new state.  The referendum is part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended more than 20 years of fighting between the government in Khartoum and the Southern People's Liberation Movement.

In a report released last week, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group called for Sudan's neighbors and continent-wide groups such as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to engage Sudanese authorities on its referendum, and to formulate a coherent and unified stance toward Southern independence.

Sudan's ruling National Congress Party has agreed to respect the results of the referendum, but accusations of vote rigging and a southern boycott of national elections last month have many worried the referendum could spark renewed conflict between the two sides.

International Crisis Group Horn of Africa project director E.J. Hogendoorn expressed concern a lack of prior engagement could make matters worse.

"The regional partners and the international community cannot control all that the NCP and the SPLM does," he said. "What we do think that the regional states especially need to do is to have contingency planning, to think through the different scenarios and to be prepared for those eventualities. One of the problems is that, often times, countries are not prepared and because they are not prepared they act with very little thought. And that can obviously precipitate a wider conflict."

Crucial international support


According to the report, a coherent African stance on the referendum is a critical point on which the international community will base its position.  It says international community support will be crucial for the implementation of the poll as well as its legitimacy.

Since the end of the colonial era, several countries have been struggling with disparate communities and ethnicities held together by artificial imperial boundaries.  Many African leaders worry that a successful Sudanese referendum could create a precedent that would promote instability on the continent.  

Hogendoorn raised the possibility of a split within the African Union on the issue, but warned that indecision could embolden either party to break the terms of the CPA and delegitimize the referendum.

"By sending mixed signals it can actually promote or increase the likelihood that a crisis escalates," he said. "You want both sides to be very sanguine about what they are doing and, obviously, not to try to resort to violence.  But of course that is a possibility.  We do not say it is the most likely possibility but we think that, given the consequences in the region, people need to anticipate those and try to work against that."

Major issue

Despite Khartoum's acceptance of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, its implementation has not gone smoothly and many questions surround southern independence.  

The most significant of these questions is oil.  Southern Sudan contains vast oil deposits.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement calls for both sides to work out a resource-sharing deal in the eventuality of a split, but there has been little, if any, progress on the issue.

Southern Sudan's neighbors are counting on this oil to drive development in the region.  Countries, such as Uganda and Kenya, have already undertaken massive development projects to export the south's resources to the rest of the world.

These countries have much at stake in southern independence.  Should the referendum be tarnished in any way, it is unknown how the region will respond.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More