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Peace and Security

Peace Prospects for Sudan Explored in Vienna

Vienna, Austria - "Sudan – Perspectives for Peace in the Largest African Nation" was the topic of a discussion January 4 in Vienna. On January 9, Southern Sudan will hold a referendum on whether or not it should remain a part of Sudan, and observers fear the possibility of violence.

The referendum is part of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement. Sudanese officials have said throughout their campaigns, regardless of their pro-unity or pro-separatist stance, that the ultimate aim is a peaceful transition for the fragile nation.

Observers and key players fear violence ahead of the South Sudan referendum because of a variety of reasons. First, there is competition for limited resources, primarily oil. The North may resist the South splitting away for fear that it will lose territory and oil, most of which will lie — as far as the North is concerned — on the wrong side of any new border that's created. The fear of violence post-separation also stems from the historical make-up of the tribal demographics of the Southern Sudan region.

The discussion was led by El Fadil Abbas Mohamed Ali, who was born in Medani in Central Sudan. He holds an MA in Linguistics from the University of Leeds, UK. He was lecturing at Gezira University and the University of Juba. Because of his affiliation with the opposition movement he had to leave Sudan 25 years ago for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. After the 2005 peace agreement he has returned regularly to his home country. Currently he works for the planning department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi.

Note: For background information on the situation in Sudan, click here.
For a commentary on the upcoming referendum by Hon. David Kilgour, former Secretary of State of Canada, click here.

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