Tensions rise as the people of south Sudan prepare to vote in a referendum that could lead to the birth of new nation in Africa or send Sudan back into war (News Brief)
(video via Al-Jazeera)
(HN, December 8, 2010) Voting for southern Sudan's independence is scheduled for January 9, 2011 and registration for the poll ends today. Millions of southern Sudanese are ready to vote for the independece from the current government in Khartoum.
The referendum was part of the terms of the 2005 peace deal that ended a 20-year civil war between the mainly Christian south and largly Muslim north of Sudan in which 2.5 million people died as the government of Khartoum fought to maintain its grip on the oil-producing south.
The fear that war will happen again is very real as much of the south including an area known as Abeyi, are oil-rich areas of Sudan.
President Omar al Bashir, wanted for war crimed in Darfuf by the International Criminal Court, has refused to state whether he will accept the result of the referendum and all the south its freedom.
The United States has been trying to push through the deal by promising a renewal of diplomatic ties and trade with the government of Khartoum, if the process passes peacfully.
However, both sides have been gathering their forces along the borders between north and south Sudan, playing to the already existing fears among Sudanese, including many refugees in the south, of another devastating civil war.