January 8, 2011

Sudan Votes into the Unknown

Southern Sudan’s polls have opened amid unbridled hope and uncertainty. Nearly all of the 3.9 million registered voters seem to have turned out, a sight that surely moved John Kerry and George Clooney. However, both Sudanese and celebrity realize the battle is only half over, and that it might just be beginning. Acuil Tito Madut, southern Sudan's inspector general of police, told Al Jazeera that the security situation in all of south Sudan was calm, "except for the skirmishes in Abyei yesterday.”

Clashes have been ongoing in the run-up to Sudan's numerous hot spots.

Perhaps the greatest advantage Southern Sudan now possesses is the massive turnout. In the words of Chan Reec, deputy head of the South Sudan Referendum Commission, "I can't express it. This is the size of turnout we have never witnessed before, even during the election.”

President Omar al-Bashir has little recourse from the north against the landslide secession, surrounded by the West and African Union. Except that won’t necessarily stop him from subverting Sunday’s referendum, whether in Abyei or Darfur. Warning of South Sudan’s non-viability, al-Bashir’s grudging acceptance of independence suggests a bumpy road for all Sudanese.

Wherever it takes them.

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