The national government and the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) continue to jockey for every advantage in the national referendum scheduled for January 2011. Yes, it is only a year away, but an increasing number of Sudanese are pessimistic about the vote and the troubles they believe it will certainly incite. Many are beginning to fear that January 2011 will mark the beginning of a new north-south war. The referendum was promised in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). GOSS officials have vacillated between seeking mediation (including talking with Egypt) and issuing calls for a separate southern state (South Sudan). Anecdotal reports indicate a lot of southerners favor independence they simply do not trust the Muslim north. The southerners complain (bitterly) that the north has cheated them of their fair share of oil revenues. Several of Sudan's largest oil fields either lie in the south or in the tense border region dividing north and south. The most recent north-south agreement on how to conduct the referendum only came about after a series of difficult political compromises. Sixty percent of registered voters in the south must participate in order for the referendum to be valid. If that percentage is achieved, then 50 percent plus one of the vote (a simple majority) is required for southern independence.
January 25, 2010: The government announced that peace negotiations in Darfur must be completed within the next two months specifically by the third week of March 2010. The statement followed an announcement that talks in Doha, Qatar, between the government and rebel groups had once again been delayed.
January 22, 2010: South Sudan sources reported that 15 people were killed in another series of tribal battles. In one incident in Jonglei state members of the Dinka Rut tribe attacked the Nuer Thiang.
January 21, 2010: Government police fought with demonstrators in the city of Port Sudan. The demonstrators were protesting alleged harassment by the government and misuse of government equipment (vehicles) by local National Congress Party (NCP) candidates in an upcoming election. Some of the protestors were identified as former NCP members. The government said nine people were injured in the fight with police. Police arrested 31 protestors but later released them. The NCP controls the national government.
A senior African Union (AU) spokesman said the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of President Omar al-Bashir (for war crimes in Darfur) is politically counter-productive if there is going to be peace in Darfur. The AU has said this before, or at least complained that the ICC targets African states. This new statement, however, comes just three months before national elections in Sudan. Bashir and his allies in the NCP call the indictment imperialist interference in Sudanese domestic politics.
January 20, 2010: The Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) condemned the government death sentences of JEM members who participated in the 2008 cross country attack on Khartoum. The JEM called the death sentences an impediment to peace negotiations. That's true, but the JEM and the national government have conducted prisoner exchange negotiations. In fact, the government and the JEM have supposedly agreed to a goodwill prisoner exchange that will include some of the JEM fighters who were captured in the Khartoum raid.
January 15, 2010: GOSS leader Salva Kiir announced that he will run for the post of vice-president in the April national elections. Kiir currently holds that position. There had been some speculation that he would run for president and challenge current president Omar al-Bashir. Kiir's Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) will back Yassir Arman for president. Arman is a Muslim from northern Sudan.