Voting in Southern Sudan began January 9, 2011
On Sunday, January 9, 2011, the people of southern Sudan began voting on a referendum to determine if Sudan will continue to be one country, or if the south will form a new independent nation in Africa. Under the regulations, the vote needs a 60 percent turnout to be valid. More than 50 percent of voters need to choose independence for the south to secede. The voting continues through January 15, 2011.
The referendum is a result of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that was signed in January 2005. The CPA ended 20 years of civil war between the north and south that claimed an estimated 2 million lives. Approximately 3.9 million southern Sudanese registered to vote. The final results of the vote are expected to be announced in early to mid-February.
The current peace agreement will run until July 2011. During this period there are several issues which need to be settled, including sharing of wealth (especially oil reserves and revenues), border demarcation, citizenship, currency, national assets and external debt. If the outcome of the referendum is separation, negotiations could become tense, sensitive and complicated.
Thus far, the voting has been relatively peaceful. There has been some violence in the contested north-south border region of Abyei. United Nations peacekeepers have intensified their patrols, and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), set up in 2005 to support the CPA, is on standby to reinforce its peacekeeping presence if needed and is engaging all concerned with efforts to defuse tensions and prevent a further escalation.
Please pray for the people of Sudan during this challenging and uncertain time.