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Terrorism & Security

Sudan sees Egypt-inspired protests in the North, jubilation on referendum in the South

Antigovernment protests in North Sudan led to the death of a university student Sunday while South Sudanese celebrated an overwhelming vote for independence.

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The north’s clashes contrast with the scenes of cheer in South Sudan capital Juba yesterday, where spontaneous dancing broke out as the first official announcement on the referendum showed that more than 99 percent of voters favored independence. The Christian Science Monitor reported that many South Sudanese chose to leave their jobs and lives in the north as the referendum approached, and the United Nations expects another 100,000 to migrate south in the next month. (See a map of north-south divisions here.)

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Speaking at the opening ceremony of the African Union summit in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa on Sunday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised the peaceful announcement of the referendum results. He warned, however, that border demarcation and the status of Abyei, a disputed region along the north-south border, could become issues as the south approaches its July 2011 independence, according to the Sudan Tribune.

Longtime Sudan observer Peter Moszynski, a documentary maker in the country’s south, adds a note of caution to the south’s jubilation, recounting the nation’s difficulty spurring development and need to properly harness its oil revenues. He writes in the Guardian:

The discovery of oil was also a major factor in the return to conflict. (Demonstrations in Khartoum over the weekend show people in the north are already uneasy about the region's economic problems. Some protesters called for president Omar al-Bashir to step down). It remains to be seen whether oil revenue can be successfully shared and harnessed to help drive agricultural development, as southern Sudan's transitional government says it plans to do, or if border tensions mean these revenues will continue to be squandered on military expenditure – currently 40 percent of its budget.

Southern Sudan's previous experience of failed post-war reconstruction efforts surely demonstrate the need to focus any potential peace dividend on development initiatives that bring positive benefits to its citizens and reverses the previous decades of decline.


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