Members of President Bush’s Africa team have steadily criticized President Obama's administration's approach to Sudan, even as the referendum appears to be unfolding peacefully.
The overwhelming vote for independence in South Sudan's referendum could help unify the South Sudanese as they begin the process of nation building.
New countries borne of partitions and border changes are not common, but will partial autonomy in Somaliland lead to secession now that South Sudan provides an example?
Although Nigeria's general election isn't until April, gubernatorial elections and an upcoming presidential primary are generating early excitement and sometimes tension.
While problems remain in some spots along the border, it seems increasingly likely that the Sudan referendum on southern Sudan's independence could go smoothly.
The year 2011 will include some big developments in Africa to look out for – Sudan's referendum and the continuing strife in Ivory Coast, among others.
Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is in a tight race for the ruling People's Democratic Party presidential nomination because of the party's desire to give both the northern and southern regions a turn in office.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir recently said that if mostly-Christian South Sudan votes to secede in a Jan. 9 referendum, the predominantly Muslim north will begin adhering more strictly to sharia law.