Sekondi Accra

The Southern Sudanese have voted through referendum to sucede from the North and Juba is their capitol city. As the Sudan stands on the brink of division, fear of war is being voiced even by normally cautious church leaders. Although it signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 which envisaged the possibility of succession, the National Congress Party (NCP) government in Khartoum does not want the south to sucede. The other CPA signatory, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, governs the semi-autonomous south and expects the referendum to lead to secession, so it does not want war or any delays.

The CPA stipulates that the referenda in the south and Abyei be held simultaneously. Northern Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has insisted the problem of Abyei cannot be solved without the Misseriya nomads participating in a referendum on the status of the disputed border region. This has enabled Khartoum to block the overall process by attempting to delay the Abyei vote. This obstruction is being aided by Ahmed Mohamed Haroun, the govenor of South Kordofan, where Abyei lies. Haroun is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

The politics of destabilization will persist. Except for strongman Hassan al-Turabi, who waits behind the scenes, the same people who launched the Islamist's party's 1989 coup against the government of Sadig al-Mahdi now rule: Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Nafi'e Ali Nafi'e, Awad Ahmed al Jaz, Mustafa Osman Ismail, Gutabi al-Mahdi, General Bakri Hassan Salih, General Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein and President Bashir.

President Bashir is circumscribed less by the ICC arrest warrants for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity than by the NCP's organization dedication, and financial power. Operationally, the regime can easily survive without him. Politically though, his arrest would have a major impact, raising the hopes of the public nad opposition. Yet African, Arab, Asian and Western governments appear to tolerate the NCP, partly because they fear national instability.

For common people in Darfur and the South, instability is a way of life. They live in fear of being attacked either by anti-government rebels or, more often, by the regime's regular or irregular forces. The government of South Sudan, headed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, has persuaded some renegades (including Lam Akol Ajawin and General George Athor Deng) to join his administration.

In Darfur, the Khartoum government has a strategy which involves forcing hundreds of thousands of displaced people out of refugee camps, which afford them little protection, and into new areas determined by the regime. The United Nations (UN) and foreign governments have essentially left Darfur alone and this may continue as London, Washington and others seek to protect the CPA. Fighting by insurgent groups is therefore likely to increase and Khartoum will respond with increased force. Many think the government forces are too weak to fight a war in the south and the west, but Khartoum has repeatedly shown its organizational skills as proxy forces enable it to pursue several goals at once.

An independent Southern Sudan will cause Sudanese policy makers to re-evaluate their economic strategies. With both the northern and southern governments reliant on petroleum exports, agreeing on a deal of how to manage them will be crucial for both Juba and Khartoum. The north will have a difficult period of adjustment now that the south has voted for independence because southern Sudan is where most of the oil is located. Which brings into question: Should South Sudan's constitution include ownership of Abyei? Another problem for the north is that it may have to bear sole responsibility for the country's more than $37 billion dollars of external debt.

Revenue sharing and transparency were a cause of conflict between Juba and Khartoum in 2010. After a United Kingdom (UK) NGO Global Witness reported that there were millions of dollars in discrepancies between the northern government's and the oil companies' production statistics, Eneregy Minister Lual Deng announced in August 2010 that the government would order an independent audit and publish daily production figures. The oil sector continues to attract the most investor interest. In late 2010, the petroleum ministry announced targets to double production from about 470,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1 million bpd in 2013. New projects and improved techniques should increase production to close to 600,000 bpd in 2011.

To try to meet the medium-term goal, the Petrodar consortium of Asian companies has started work to drill new wells on Blocks 3 and 7. The risk posed by southern independence has not stopped new investors. Luxembourg's Star Petroleum and Norway's Hamla signed an exploration agreement an exploration agreement for Block E, in Southern Sudan, in August 2010. At the same time, Finnish company Fenno Caledonian signed a deal to explore for oil and gas at Block 10 in the northeast.

It has been nearly six years since a peace deal ended the north-south civil war in Sudan, but with southerners finally set to gain independence, many details have yet to be worked out.


Official Data


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Sudan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: (202) 338-8565; fax: (202) 667-2406); and a Consular Office at 2612 Woodley Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: (202) 232-1492; fax: (202) 232-1494). The regional Government of Southern Sudan maintains a liaison office in the United States at 1233 20th St. NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC 20036 (tel: (202) 293-7940; fax: (202) 293-7941).
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