Frequently Asked Questions
The  Southern Sudan Referendum for Independence

What is the Southern Sudan Referendum for Independence?

Southern Sudan will hold a referendum on whether or not it should remain as a part of Sudan on 9 January 2011.  This is part of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).

The proposed date for the referendum is 9 January 2011; should the turnout be insufficient in the first referendum, a second one will be held within sixty days.  Registration for the vote started on 15 November with Salva Kiir’s appeal for registering en masse. Almost four million citizens registered before the end of timeline at December 5.

97 per cent answered in a poll that they are going to vote for the independence.

How has the international community supported Southern Sudan’s referendum?

The United States extended sanctions against Sudan on November 1, 2010 in order to pressure the government to stick to the referendum deadline.  The US then offered to drop Sudan from an US list of state-sponsors of terrorism if the  referendum was held on time and the results were respected.  They again partook in statements before the referendum in lauding al-Bashir’s statement to respect the vote.   There was also a media campaign to raise awareness and increase the turnout.  Following concerns from the UN about delays, representatives of both regions affirmed a commitment to hold the referendum on time.

Where is Southern Sudan?

Southern Sudan (officially known as the Government of Southern Sudan) is an autonomous region in Sudan. Juba is its capital city. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the east, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, and the Central African Republic to the west. To the north lies the predominantly Arab and Muslim region directly under the control of the central government, with its capital at Khartoum. Southern Sudan includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd formed by the White Nile, locally called the Bahr el Jebel. The region’s autonomous status is a condition of a peace agreement between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) and the Government of Sudan represented by the National Congress Party ending the Second Sudanese Civil War. The conflict was Africa’s longest running civil war.

What is the history that has led to Southern Sudan wanting independence?

It is estimated that the Southern region has a population of 8 million, but given the lack of a census in several decades, this estimate may be severely compromised. The economy is predominantly rural and subsistence farming. At the beginning of 2005, the economy began a transition from this rural dominance and urban areas within Southern Sudan have seen extensive development. This region has been negatively affected by two civil wars since Sudanese independence – the Sudanese government fought the Anyanya rebel army from 1955 to 1972 in the First Sudanese Civil War and then SPLA/M in the Second Sudanese Civil War for almost twenty-one years after the founding of SPLA/M in 1983 – resulting in serious neglect, lack of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. More than 2.5 million people have been killed, and more than 5 million have become externally displaced while others have been internally displaced, becoming refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts.

What is the current government of Southern Sudan?

Aside from the Interim National Constitution of the Republic of Sudan, the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan of 2005 is the supreme law of Southern Sudan. The Constitution establishes an Executive Branch headed by a President who is both the Head of State, Head of Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.  John Garang, the founder of the SPLA/M was the first President until his death on 30 July 2005. Salva Kiir Mayärdït, his deputy, was sworn in as First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan on 11 August 2005. Riek Machar replaced him as Vice-President. Legislative power is vested in the government and the unicameral Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly. The Constitution also provides for an independent judiciary, the highest organ being the Supreme Court.  Defense Paper on defence processes was initiated in 2007 and produced a draft in 2008, declaring that Southern Sudan should eventually maintain land, air, and riverine forces

What are Southern Sudan’s economic resources?

Sudan also exports timber to the international market. One of the major natural features of the Southern Sudan is the River Nile whose many tributaries have sources in the country. The region also contains many natural resources such as petroleum, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower. The country’s economy, as in many other developing countries, is heavily dependent on agriculture.   And most importantly, Southern Sudan has oil.

How extensive are Southern Sudan’s oil resources, and who owns them?

Southern Sudan produces 85% of the Sudanese oil industry. The oil revenues according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), are to be split equally for the duration of the agreement period. Oil revenues constitute more than 98% of the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan’s budget.  In recent years, a significant amount of foreign-based oil drilling has begun in Southern Sudan, raising the land’s geopolitical profile. Khartoum has partitioned much of Sudan into blocks, with about 85% of the oil coming from the South. Blocks 1, 2, and 4 are controlled by the largest overseas consortium, the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). GNPOC is composed of the following players: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC, People’s Republic of China), with a 40% stake; Petronas (Malaysia), with 30%; Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (India), with 25%; and Sudapet of the Sudan government with 5%.   The other producing blocks in the South are blocks 3 and 7 in Eastern Upper Nile. These blocks are controlled by Petrodar which is 41% owned by CNPC, 40% by Petronas, 8% by Sudapet, 6% by Sinopec Corp and 5% by Al Thani.   Another major block in the South, called Block B by Khartoum, is claimed by several players. Total of France was awarded the concession for the 90,000 square kilometre block in the 1980s but has since done limited work invoking “force majeure”.

Source: Wikipedia

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