The 9 January 2011 referendum on independence for Southern Sudan has profound
implications for all of Sudan, the wider region and Africa as a whole. While the referendum
itself represents an historic opportunity for the population of Southern Sudan to speak on
questions of autonomy and self-determination, the short- and long-term consequences of the
referendum are less clear. If the South votes for independence, how will oil resources and
national debt be divided between the North and South? What are the implications of the vote
for other regions of Sudan, including Abyei, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur? What
form will future governance and institutional structures take in Southern Sudan? How will a
newly formed state deal with foreign donors and investors, large-scale refugee returns and
relations with its regional neighbours? Does the referendum represent a chance for the
Sudanese people to put the past behind them and move on or is a deeper reckoning with past
conflicts and grievances required? Is a vote for independence in Southern Sudan likely to
trigger similar separatist claims elsewhere in Africa?
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