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Southern Sudan will hold an independence referendum on whether or not it should remain as a part of Sudan in January 2011.[1] This is part of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. A simultaneous referendum will be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan.

     South Sudan (to hold referendum in 2011      Abyei (to hold referendum in 2011)      Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile (to hold "popular consultations" in 2011)

The prerequisites for the referendum include a census, which will define how wealth and political power will be apportioned between regions. The census will thus be the basis of a voter registration process, which will allow national elections in 2010, which will in turn set the stage for the referendum. As of early 2008, the census had been delayed three times. Problems include disagreements between the north and south over what they are obliged under the Naivasha Agreement, funding difficulties and an enormous logistical challenge. In the south, unmapped minefields from the war make movement difficult, while up to five million Sudanese are nomadic. Up to two million internally displaced persons from the south remain in camps around Khartoum, in the center of the country, while refugees remain in Uganda and Kenya. A further complication results from the conflict in Darfur to the west, where civilians who have fled attacks refuse to take part in census out of fear that the government would use the results against them. Darfuri rebel groups are unanimous in their denunciation of the planned census, while the Justice and Equality Movement group has threatened to attack any census-taker.[2]

There are disagreements between the NCP and the SPLM about what proportion of voters will have to be in favour of independence (the NCP wants at least 75% support required), whether Southern Sudanese living in the north should be allowed to vote, and the post-referendum separation process (including the division of the national debt).[3] Modest progress was made in early September, but disagreements on fundamental points remain.[4]

On 16 October 2009, it was announced that agreement had been reached: a simple majority would be sufficient, but only if at least two thirds of voters participated.[5] The proposed date for the referendum is 3–5 January 2011; should the turnout be insufficient in the first referendum, a second one will be held within sixty days.[6]

It is envisaged to hold "popular consultations" in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, without a clear reference to referenda and/or independence, raising concerns about the future of these regions.[7][8]

On 14 December 2009 it was finally agreed that turnout would have to be 60% and support for independence - 51% for the referendum to be valid.[9]

References

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