Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sudan Referendum - for peace or for another Civil war?

World war two made it difficult for the colonial powers of the old world to hold their international possessions together. Powerful national movements in the colonies, international consensus against colonialism, poor economic condition in Europe after the war etc lead to the independence of colonies.

Even if sun finally set in the British empire, sun never raised (or raised for a brief moment) in many of the new countries. Sudan falls in this category. After gaining independence from Egypt and UK in 1956, Sudan suffered 17 years long civil war which ended in 1972. As if this was not enough another civil war was followed by ethnic, religious conflicts between Northern Sudanese (Arab and Nubian) and Christian and Animist Nilotes of South in 1983. This data is enough for the reader to think about the independence Sudanese got in 1956.

Sudan is also a good example for the 'Curse of Oil'. Sudan's rich natural resources - Petroleum and Oil exports -didn't help the common Sudanese to kill their hunger. According to CIA Fact book - "The second war and famine-related effects resulted in more than four million people displaced and, according to rebel estimates, more than two million deaths over a period of two decades".

After the long civil 'North-South Comprehensive Peace Treatment'(CPA) was signed in January 2005. CPA gave an autonomy of six years for the southern region. After six years(that is in 2011) a referendum will be held to decide the autonomy of southern region.

As if all these conflict related deaths are not enough, a separate crisis was unfolded in Darfar in 2003, (Then US Secretary of state Collin Powell termed Darfur conflict as genocide) which resulted in the displacement of more than 2 million people and death of 2,00,000 to 4,00,000 people - CIA Fact book. The number of Internally Displaced People (IDP) currently living in Sudan is around 5.3 to 6.2 million. A staggering figure as the entire population of Sudan is just 44 million(approx).

It is in this situation Sudan is heading for referendum the first month of next year. How far it will be a success is yet to see. In fact its still not sure whether it will happen in the correct date and whether the waring faction will agree on the results. Even if Southern Sudan got independence after referendum will the people get a stable government? or will the south again split to various faction and continue their wars? It is rater ironic to note that - while 40% of the people live below the poverty line, there seems to be no deficiency in arms production and use. At this point of time what International community can do is to use everything at their disposal to ensure fair referendum in 2011 and substantially increase the number of peacekeeping force to check the possible violence at the time of referendum.


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