South Sudan Referendum

A new nation is born

The Second Sudan civil war (largely a continuation of the first civil war 1955-1972) ravished the whole of South Sudan for 22 years between 1983-2005, killed 2,000,000 through fighting and disease and displaced another 4,000,000. It concluded with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in Nairobi on 9th of January 2005.

I was in the area, based in Abyei, a small special administrative area that historically and ethnically is connected to the south, but for legal reasons was transferred to the north in the early 20th century by the British and remains that way to this day. On January 5, 2011 this region was supposed to be given the right to determine if they wanted to be transferred to the north, into the Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan or stay loosely connected with South Kordofan which is a part of the north. They were denied this right while I worked in Abyei so that my job of monitoring the referendum that was stalled turned into monitoring the situation on the ground. Rally after rally was held accompanied by speeches of defiance, anger, resignation and fear that, like Sudan experts all said, the civil war would begin again, and the spark would be Abyei.

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