South Sudan – 99% in favor of secession

Preliminary results from the Sudanese referendum indicate that over 99% of southerners voted in favor of secession. While celebrations are occurring in the south, protests against President Omar al Bashir are flaring in the north. According to the Christian Science Monitor, students who organized the protests planned for them to overlap with the release of results. Ongoing protests in Tunisia (which led to the collapse of government) and Egypt (which has already led to whispers of Mubarak’s fall) make the instability in Sudan that much more threatening. Could we be seeing a domino effect of falling regimes in North Africa? I am skeptical. But still, these dramatic events are worrisome.

In the middle of clashes with protesters, the Bashir regime managed to release two important statements. From Vice President Ali Osman Taha (Looks like the Aussies picked up this wire story first):

“We announce that we accept the outcome of the referendum and we agree on the results,” Mr Taha told a news conference in the Sudanese capital, emphasising the intention of government “to pursue a policy of good neighbourly relations with the south”.

And already the north is calling for and end to sanctions:

“We have delivered what we promised. We now want all sanctions to be lifted,” Foreign Minister Ali Karti told Reuters.

The real question now is what will happen with all of South Sudan’s newly inherited oil fields? Check out a neat interactive map of oil blocks in Sudan by the Financial Times.

While there appears to be cooperation from the north at the moment, the tenuous situation caused by protests could lead to regime change or changes within the current regime. What kind of regime will that be? We already know what to expect from Bashir and company (for the most part), so long as the US follows through with its promises. But little is known about the sort of government that would evolve after Bashir.

In the meantime – I am anxiously awaiting the results of the Central African Republic and Niger elections.

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