Sudan Update: Moving Towards Southern Secession

With less than 6 months to go before Southern Sudan votes on whether to secede and form its own Republic, organizations working inside the country say Sudan is not ready.

The Sudan Tribune recently reported that 24 humanitarian organizations issued a report that Sudan is "alarmingly unprepared" for the secession referendum in January, 2011.

One of the key factors in insuring a peaceful transition is to clearly define the North/South Sudan border, something that has not yet been accomplished. Without both sides agreeing on what constitutes northern and southern Sudan, the possibility for a renewed conflict between the two regions is greatly increased if the South votes for independence.

The referendum on secession was one of the terms specified in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the North and South in 2005. A key player in the peace negotiations was the United States, which is accredited with making the CPA a reality.

However, since taking office, President Obama has been criticized by the Left and the Right for his lack of action in Sudan. Obama made many promises during his campaign about intervening in Sudan, especially Darfur. And experts agree that a strong U.S. presence will be needed to ensure that the referendum vote is honored by Northern Sudan. Few people seriously believe Southern Sudan will vote to remain part of the North.

The bottom line is that the next several months are going to be crucial as Northern and Southern government officials work to reach an agreement on what a post-referendum Sudan will look like.

Many millions of Southern Sudanese live in the North. So their citizenship status would be a major issue if the South secedes. Moreover, there are questions on how to dispose the national debt, water issues (since the Nile runs through Southern Sudan, and is the lifeline for the North), and trade agreements (since all oil in Southern Sudan must run through the North to get to Port Sudan).

PPF will continue monitoring the national situation and report on new developments. In the meantime, our projects will continue as scheduled. Please pray that the security situation will remain stable enough for our work to continue. Our God reigns over all nations and politicians of the world are "grasshoppers" in His sight. (Isaiah 40:22)