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South Sudan Votes for Independence. What’s at stake?. Gariballa Mohamed HRREC February 2011. Introduction. Last month People of Southern Sudan voted in a constitutional referendum to secede from the Sudanese State and form a new sovereign state in Southern Sudan

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South sudan votes for independence

South Sudan Votes for Independence

What’s at stake?

Gariballa Mohamed


February 2011


  • Last month People of Southern Sudan voted in a constitutional referendum to secede from the Sudanese State and form a new sovereign state in Southern Sudan

  • This is one of the most significant event in the modern history of the Sudan.

  • It is also a serious development in the geo-politics of the African continent.

  • The referendum was conducted pursuant to the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005 (CPA) and the Interim National Constitution of the Sudan (NCS). 2005

  • The CPA was signed between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Government of Sudan (GoS) represented by the National Congress Party (NCP)

Sudan before secession
Sudan(Before secession)

  • The biggest Country in Africa with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometer (1 Million square mile) and a Population of almost 40 millions

  • The Nile, world longest river, divides the country east and west sides

  • Ancient and rich history as one of the oldest cradles of civilization (Kush Dynasty)

  • Multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic country.

  • Ruled by Egypt during the Ottoman Empire then by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium until independence in Jan. 1956

  • Region predominantly rural with herding and agriculture as the main sources of livelihood

  • North mostly Muslims who identify themselves as Arabs

  • South is populated by people of African origins who are mostly Christians or followers of traditional beliefs with a few Muslims.

History and root causes
History and Root Causes

  • Identity problem with constant racial and ethnic conflicts

  • Hegemony of the dominant Arab-Islamic group and over-centralized governance

  • Mismanagement of the centre-periphery relationship

  • Exacerbation of the problem by the British Colonial Administration

  • Marginalization, underdevelopment, repression, weak governance and absence of rule of law

  • An estimate of 2,000,000 people died since the eruption of the North-South violence in 1955

  • Plagued by armed conflicts and gross violations of human rights


  • 1947- Juba Conference and the South call for Federalism

  • 1955 -Torit mutiny. Beginning of first civil war

  • 1956 - Sudan declared independence in Parliament

  • 1958 - General Aboud, a military dictator assumed power.

  • 1964 - Popular uprising overthrew Aboud military regime.

  • 1965- The failure of the Round Table Conference and resumption of hostilities

  • 1969- 2nd military coup since independence led by Colonel Gaffer Nimeri.

  • 1972- Addis Ababa peace agreement between North and South Sudan signed in the Ethiopian capital.

Timeline cont d
Timeline (cont’d)

  • 1983- General Nimeri abrogated the Addis Ababa Agreement and imposed strict Islamic Shari‘ a code in the Northern and Southern parts of the country

  • May 1983- Bor mutiny in Southern Sudan followed by the formation of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by late Dr. John Garang.

  • Garang redefined the Southern Sudan Problem and introduced the concept of the New Sudan, which means a unified, secular, democratic and just state. War resumed

  • 1985- Nimeri regime overthrown by a popular uprise.

  • 1988 Peace Agreement signed between SPLM/A and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). NIF was the only Party opposed to the Agreement

Timeline cont d1
Timeline (cont’d)

  • 1989- A coup d'état led by Colonel Omar Al Bashir toppled the elected government of Al Sadiq Al Mahdi and brought the NIF to power.

  • War in the South intensified under the new regime which initiated the Islamic concept of Jihad meaning (holy war) against the southern Sudanese people

  • 1992-Self-determination included in the SPLM/A Agenda

  • 2002- Machakos Protocol signed by GoS and the SPLM/A, recognizing the right of self-determination for the South

  • 2003- Darfur violence erupted

  • 2003- Cease fire Agreement signed

  • 2005- GoS and SPLM/A signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha, Kenya

Timeline cont d2
Timeline (cont’d)

  • 2005-Sudan Interim National Constitution adopted

  • 2009- Sudan multi-party elections conducted. Results dominated by NCP in the North and SPLM in the South. Reportedly unfair.

  • 2011- Jan. South Sudan Referendum conducted

  • 2011- Feb. Initial results announced showing more than 98% voted for independence. Final results expected before mid-Feb.

The cpa characteristics
The CPA Characteristics

  • Internationally brokered under the leadership of the US

  • The Southern Sudanese right of self-determination through a referendum is mandated by the Interim Constitution and the CPA

  • After 21 years of violent confrontations, warring parties agreed to a peace deal which enshrines the option of secession for Southern Sudan

  • The two rivals formed a government of national unity with a transition period of 6 years whereafter an internationally supervised referendum should be conducted

Cpa characteristics cont d
CPA Characteristics (cont’d)

  • The goal and spirit of the CPA was to foster unity by promoting respect for human rights, equitable distribution of power and wealth and reconciliation between South and North. Apparently the actual implementation was far from close to this this spirit

  • Recognized by the UNSC Resolution 1574 (Nov. 2004)

  • South Sudan Referendum Act (2009) requires a minimum turnout of 60% of the registered voters and a simple majority for the independence vote

The southern sudan
The Southern Sudan

  • Area about on third of the total area of the Sudan

  • Border region between South and North 1200 miles (longest in Africa)

  • Population about 8 million

  • Multi-ethnic and multi-religious with Christianity as the dominant religion.

  • Official language is English but there are local languages and colloquial Arabic is widely spoken

  • Major tribes Dinka, Shelluk and Nuer with numerous smaller tribes

  • Rich in natural resources including oil . Southern Sudan produces about 80% of the Sudanese oil output.

Post referendum challenges
Post-referendum Challenges

  • The dispute over Abyei

  • Abyei is an oil rich region on the North-South borders.

  • According to the CPA, A simultaneous referendum was supposed to be held in Abyei to enable the residents to decide on whether to be part of the South or the North.

  • Abyei referendum delayed indefinitely due to conflict over demarcation and residency rights.

  • Probably the most complicated post-referendum issue

  • Citizenship. Current Sudanese law allows dual nationality but several NCP leaders announced that Southerners living in the North will not hold North Sudanese nationality

Post referendum challenges cont d
Post-referendum Challenges (cont’d)

  • Oil revenues. More than 80% of the Sudanese oil is produced in the South but the pipeline which carries the crude to Port Sudan on the Red Sea runs across the North. The government of the South considered other options including pipeline which Kenyan lands. Equitable deal could pacify tensions

  • Water. River Nile is essential for the life of all Nile Valley states. Egypt controls its waters through a colonial Agreement signed in 1929 and revised in 1959 to allow Sudan to have a small share in the of Nile water. The birth of the Southern state will add a new member to the Nile basin and the impact of the agreement between Egypt and Sudan is not clear.

  • Risk of fragmentation. Implications on other regions in the Sudan, particularly Darfur, Southern Kordofan, Southern Blue Nile and the East. Each one the above regions is a ticking time bomb.

  • Poor implementation of the CPA, particularly the NCP, Lack of trust and reconciliation between the North and South governments, NCP’s security stronghold in the North.

Post referendum challenges cont d1
Post-referendum Challenges (cont’d)

  • External debt. The Sudan is heavily indebted for more than 30 Billion Dollars. NCP claims that The new Southern state should shoulder part of this debt

  • No guidelines or road map to the post-referendum arrangements/negotiations and according to the CPA and the INC all pending issues should be settled before the end of the 6 month transition period

  • Other issues including transportation, currency, security, borderline population and international covenants

Challenges facing the southern state
Challenges facing the Southern State

  • The new State is also divided along tribal and ethnic lines

  • Decentralization, inclusivity, reconciliation and good governance are necessary for the success

  • The state need to promote respect for human rights, rule of law, judicial reform and reinforce traditional conflict resolution methods

  • Diversify its economy away from oil

  • Sustainable development and initial focus on infra structure

How can the international community help
How can the International Community Help?

  • Facilitate good faith negotiations between the North and South

    governments during the transition period to settle all outstanding issues

  • Apply diplomatic pressures when necessary to ensure peaceful independence and prevent renewal of hostilities.

  • Provide Humanitarian assistance for large migrations into the South and technical assistance to promote development

  • Develop Southern government capacity for good governance, transparency, Inclusion and protection of human rights

  • Constructive engagement to foster the culture of reconciliation and peace inside the new Southern state and with the Northern neighbor

African concerns
African Concerns

  • Many African observers fear that the secession of the southern Sudan might open the door for other regional groups within the African continent to follow suit

  • Current African territories calling for secession include Somaliland (Somalia), Casamance (Senegal), Cabinda region (Angola, Katanga (Congo) and others

  • The Eritrean example has not set a good precedent.

  • Opponents of secession argue that it’s in the interest of the African continent to move towards economic and political integration

Post referendum issues under state practice and international law
Post-referendum issues under State Practice and International law

  • State Succession. 2 practices available: Continuation (which means one of the entities after the breakup continues to assume the duties and obligations of the predecessor state), and dissolution (where the predecessor state ceases to exist). The case of the Southern Sudanese State is a continuation case. According to the CPA scenario the Northern state will be the predecessor state and the Southern state will be the successor state

  • Recognition of international community is necessary. Due to the nature of the emergence of the Southern State international recognition is expected. A number of international players witnessed the process since the pre-agreement negotiations

International law issues cont d
International Law Issues (cont’d) International law

  • Defining the borders of the new territory is one of the basic requirement of the state. The CPA defines the borders between the North and South as it was in January 1956 (date of independence) but actual demarcation has not taken place. However, new states can be recognized even with partly undefined or disputed borders

  • Assets and Debts allocation is important for the peaceful relations between the Southern and Northern states. According to the international law and practice post-succession debts and assets are divided into national and territorial. National debt is generally defined as the monies borrowed to the benefit of the state as a whole.

International law issues cont d1
International Law Issues (cont’d) International law

  • Territorial debt is defined as sums borrowed for the benefit of a particular region. Generally speaking, successor states are held liable for territorial debts used for the benefit of their territory

  • Membership of international organizations requires fresh applications from the successor state. The Southern state as the successor has the right to choose which treaties signed by the Northern predecessor it would like to uphold. Instruments of accession might be needed for some treaties.

  • There is no hard-and-fast rules under international law on the question of citizenship criteria. It is in the interest of both states to address the question of citizenship before the end of the transition period. Considerable numbers of southerners live in the North and vice versa

Map of the sudan

N International law






Red Sea








Map of the Sudan

Northern Sudan

Southern Sudan,23975