If the south opts for independence from the north in the 2011 referendum, what happens to southerners who live in northern territory? Good question, and some Sudanese who hail from what could become South Sudan are asking it. Though the census figures are in dispute, the national government itself says that at least 500,000 people from South Sudan live in the north. The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) says the figure is higher but no one knows for sure. Many of these people fled the fighting during the long North-South civil war. A substantial number of people in the southern disapora are Christians and north Sudan is predominantly Muslim. At the moment neither the national government nor the southern government has a good solution for the problem. A population trek to the south (a population exchange of sorts) could occur. For poor South Sudan that would be a lot of people to resettle.
January 10, 2010: Despite the revised election security laws a number of South Sudan politicians in the SPLM (Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement) continue to argue that the law will not protect voters in the south. The law lets intelligence service agents stop and detain suspects. The National Congress Party (NCP, the northern party) made certain the intelligence services had this power. The southerners fear northern intel agents will arrest southerners to keep them from voting. At the minimum this power lets intelligence agents intimidate voters. This is one reason why some two dozen small political parties are considering boycotting the election. As it is, Darfur rebel leaders are telling their factions to boycott elections. One argument goes that the NCP is going to steal it anyway, and this will permit the national government to portray the election victory as a ratification of its Darfur policy. Of course, the US and many European nations describe the national government's Darfur policy as genocide and they are right.
January 7, 2010: Another round of tribal warfare has broken out in South Sudan. Once again the fight (in Warrap state) pitted the Nuer against the Dinka. A group of Nuer attacked a group of Dinka cattleherders. Casualty estimates vary, but at least 140 people were killed in the fighting, which began on January 2. Up to 100 were wounded. It was believed that up to 30,000 head of cattle were stolen. That number is suspect. Most tribal raids involve at most a few hundred cattle. If that large a herd was stolen, then this was more than a raid, it was a planned military and economic combat operation.
January 5, 2010: A spokesman for the national government said that a vote by south Sudanese for independence could lead to renewed war between the north and the south. The spokesman addressed specifically the issue of undefined borders and disputed borders. That is a big deal in and of itself, but the border areas contain oil fields.
December 31, 2009: A unit of south Sudanese soldiers was attacked by armed tribesmen in Lakes state. The unit was conducting a disarmament operation (ie, disarming tribal militias). A government official said 13 South Sudan soldiers were killed in the attack. The tribesmen ambushed the unit and heavy fighting ensued.
December 30, 2009: The government passed a law which will guide the January 2011 independence referendum in the disputed Abyei region. Abyei has been the site of some of the most intense fighting between northerners and southerners. The law says the Ngok Dinka are guaranteed the right to vote in Abyei. The Ngok Dinka are regarded as supporters of South Sudan. After the law was passed, members of the Missiriya tribe (which supports the NCP's national government) staged a walkout from the Sudan parliament.
December 29, 2009: And it's changed again. The Sudan parliament has revised the laws governing the January 2011 independence referendum. The revision will let southerners living in northern territory vote in the referendum. At the moment this revision looks like a political victory for the south, since this has been a major source of political friction over the last year. Still, many southerners believe the northerners have no intention of conducting a fair election. The parliament kept the requirement that 60 percent of southern Sudanese voters participate in the referendum in order for the election to be legal. A simple majority (fifty percent plus one) will decide the election (for either a unified Sudan or southern independence, creating a separate South Sudan). The north had been arguing that independence should require a super majority.
December 22, 2009: A GOSS spokesman accused the national government of ignoring the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The spokesman said national government attempts (read NCP) to keep southerners from voting breached the 2005 CPA. For its part, the NCP has accused the SPLM of inflating voting rolls in southern Sudan.