Concerns regarding the Sudan Referendum
In Roughly six months time People in Sudan will determine the future of that Country. The choices are that the status quo remains or the country splits into two countries, One a Muslim dominated North and the other a Predominately Christian South.
At this time there are several factors that will determine how peaceful the elections will occur. First of all there appears a crackdown underway by Security Forces in Khartoum against those who are organizing in support of the South gaining Independence. This was recently addressed by the Troika (United States, Great Britain and Norway) statement regarding its concern over actions being taken by the Security Forces.
There have been concerns regarding the Situation in the Southern Part of Sudan as well. Attacks by Dissident Generals and disgruntled politicians could pose a threat to the referendum as well. The United States recently sent a Mission to Juba to ascertain how the process towards the referendum is moving forward. Some of the issues that need to be addressed are securing ballots that have been cast, preventing voter intimidation and post-election violence and having both Khartoum and Juba respect the outcome of the plebiscite.
There are several factors outside of Sudan that have the potential to impact the election. One of the Key Factors will be the implementation of the LRA Disarmament Bill which was signed into Law by President Obama. When He signed this into Law on May 24th it started a 180 day clock for the strategy to be drafted and implemented. The last day of the window just happens to be the Day before Thanksgiving here in the United States.
Around the same time that the LRA Bill was signed by the President the New National Security Strategy was revealed. This document reveals that the Administration will place a greater emphasis on Covert Operations. This could be some foreshadowing by the Administration into how it plans to deal with the LRA in Sudan and the other three Nations that are currently having problems with this renegade force.
It has been documented how Sudanese Intelligence has used the LRA as a proxy force. The LRA was used to exert the will of the Central Government in Khartoum on the Southern Part of the Country. It was also used as a proxy force and negotiating prop when dealing with the Museveni Government in neighboring Uganda. With the Close ties between Kampala and the South any attempt to cause a divide needs to be exploited at all hazards.
Other Countries in the region that have a problem with either refugees or Militias could have an impact on this referendum as well. This means that Eastern Chad, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo may have an indirect or even a direct impact depending on the benefactors on this election.
As with most crisis situations there is potentially a Wild Card in this situation. The Wild Card in this case may be the potential of a Proxy War between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Unbeknownst to most people a Saudi newspaper reported that Iran was constructing a Weapons Plant in Sudan. When the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum launched an investigation into this report the three men that were conducting the investigation were the targets from what were seemingly random Death Threats. As tensions between Iran and the Region and the Western Allies increase this is something that may have to be remembered.
There are other factors that have a role into how this election will play out. These include relations with Libya, Russia and China. Recently Sudan closed off part of the border with Libya in response to what is perceived to be support from Tripoli towards a Darfuri Militia. China and the Russian Federation have been the two main Allies for Sudan during any action that has been proposed by the UN Security Council.
Within the next six months one of three things will occur within Sudan. It will decide to remain together as one nation, It will split into two nations peacefully or a renewed Civil War will take place. Regardless of the outcome of the vote no one will be happy with the results. That in itself is a very chilly scenario.
The Author Comments on US Policy Towards Africa and publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet.