Backgrounder: Sudan referendum

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

by Christian Aid

Peace agreement signed

Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed on 9 January 2005, ending the country’s second civil war, which began in 1983.

The peace deal was signed by the government of Sudan and the Southern People's Liberation Movement and guaranteed by countries including the UK and the US, and by international organisations such as the United Nations and the African Union.

The CPA set out a six-year process culminating in a referendum in January 2011 when southern Sudan will vote on whether to remain united with the north or separate and form a new state. The agreement made southern Sudan semi-autonomous with its own government sitting in its major city of Juba.

It also raised expectations, particularly in southern Sudan, that people would soon begin to see dividends of the peace through investment in infrastructure and basic services. But six years after the peace process began most people are yet to see real improvements to essential services.

Historic vote approaches

January's vote will decide whether southern Sudan remains united with the north or separates to form a new state. The decision will have enormous consequences for people across the country, so it is critical that the referendum is held in a credible way that is free and fair.

Many are concerned about insecurity across southern Sudan and for the safety of more than 1.5 million southern Sudanese who remain displaced in the north. People need urgent assurances that any violence will be addressed and that their rights will be protected.

Although some may remain, the Sudan Council of Churches, a member of ACT, believes hundreds of thousands are likely to return to southern Sudan following the vote. With schools and hospitals already overstretched, investment is desperately needed.

Special thanks to ACT member Christian Aid for permission to reproduce this backgrounder. To see the piece in its original context please visit the Christian Aid site.

See also:

United Nations graphic and map on the Sudan referendum