Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sudan / Southern Sudan

Southern Sudan Prepares for Freedom -- and Puts Dream of Skyscrapers on Hold
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, March 30, 2010
"In the early days of the war, with weapons supplies short and the odds of achieving independence impossibly long, the southern Sudanese rebels composed songs to keep up morale. Some were battle anthems, designed to inspire bravery against the Arab enemy from the north. Others, like the one sung to the women worried about losing their husbands in combat, reflected hopes of life in a time of peace. 'It said that whoever survived the struggle would be driving cars and living in skyscrapers,' said Zalson Khor, an official with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which led the rebellion then took on the task of building from scratch what is expected to become the world's newest nation next year. Nowhere were the postwar expectations higher than in Bor, the capital of the largest state in Southern Sudan. It was in this Nile river town that the SPLM was born in 1983 when soldiers staged a mutiny against the government in Khartoum, kicking off one of Africa's longest civil wars. Bor was also the home of the rebels' revered leader, John Garang, who signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with President Omar al-Bashir to end the conflict five years ago. The deal granted the south autonomy and mandated for the first time since Bashir seized power more than two decades ago that multiparty elections should be held, with the poll now scheduled for 11 April. Most importantly, however, the agreement also offered southerners the chance to realise their dreams of secession from the north through a referendum in 2011. That vote, which is certain to be in favour of independence, is nine months away. [...]"

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