|"We will only truly be liberated if we have peace, democracy, good governance, financial accountability, if we manage to eradicate poverty and manage our resources responsibly, if the civil society is involved in political processes and women participate in decision making," said Anyanzo Charles Jacob, Jesuit Refugee Service Peace Education Coordinator in Nimule, Southern Sudan.|
(Juba, Southern Sudan) February 8, 2011 — The people of Southern Sudan have overwhelmingly voted for independence according to the final referendum results announced on Monday in Khartoum. The results show that 98.83 percent voted for secession, which will open the door to Africa’s newest state with formal independence scheduled for July 9, 2011.
"As soon as people here heard the announcement of the result over the local FM radio station, they started celebrating," said Anyanzo Charles Jacob, Jesuit Refugee Service Peace Education Coordinator in Nimule, Southern Sudan. "Soldiers fired bullets in the air, people danced and sang songs of praise to God, beating drums, and playing other local musical instruments. It went on throughout the night,"Mr. Anyanzo said.
Before independence however, key challenges remain to be negotiated. It will depend on the two ruling parties — the north’s National Congress Party (NCP) and the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to agree on solutions.
Key issues that need to be negotiated
Sudan's north-south border remains un-demarcated, with slow progress in negotiations to fix the boundaries. Negotiations are based on colonial-era maps as the border stood at Sudan's independence in 1956. But with the frontier crossing oil and mineral rich areas, the issue is contentious.
The status of the contested border region of Abyei has yet to be determined but the referendum scheduled for early January did not take place and progress on the vote remains in deadlock.
Foreign debt, which is estimated at $38 billion, remains a huge concern. While the south says the north spent the cash on arms during the war, the north wants to obtain debt forgiveness which would take several years.
A solution has to be found regarding the citizenship for the many Sudanese living in border areas or southerners and northerners living in the "other" side of Sudan. While the south wants people to have a possibility to choose, the north has so far been reluctant to accept dual nationality status.
A deal needs to be negotiated as to how the two parties will share the oil revenue. Oil reserves lie in the south but all pipelines run north. Both sides largely depend on it with 98 percent of the southern government’s budget coming from oil revenue. Another precious resource is water. The future sharing of the Nile river water also has to be agreed upon.
Expectations remain extremely high
The referendum was the climax of a 2005 north—south peace accord that set out to end Africa's longest civil war in which two million people died and four million were displaced within and outside Sudan.
"Southerners have fought 21 years for this liberation. They have high expectations regarding the democratization process, a reform of the judiciary, establishment of the rule of law and the efficient provision of services," said Mr. Anyanzu. "If these expectations are not met, Southern Sudan will continue to experience conflicts," he added.
"We will only truly be liberated if we have peace, democracy, good governance, financial accountability, if we manage to eradicate poverty and manage our resources responsibly, if the civil society is involved in political processes and women participate in decision making," said Mr. Anyanzu.
Jesuit Refugee Service accompanied Southern Sudanese in various locations throughout the referendum process, providing education on the voting process and on conflict resolution within local communities.
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