The drive towards the January 9, 2011 referendum to determine the fate of Southern Sudan has the Sudanese, neighboring countries and the larger international community holding their breath. The poll has an overall objective to enhance a peaceful Sudan away from its bloody past. Going by recent developments in Africa where electoral democracy has become a mockery of the concept of governance and government; Sudanese citizens must realize that the right to self determination requires a lot more - a balance of individual, in country and international interests in order to enjoy stability.
The country's two principals have exhibited statesmanship. Salva Kiir has called for peaceful campaigns and mobilization in order to attain a free, fair and transparent atmosphere during the polling. His counterpart, Omar al-Bashir has said that he will be the first person to accept the results of the referendum and even help the south to develop should it choose to secede.
The onus is now on the people of Sudan to choose wisely. It is one thing to gain autonomy but another one to translate the autonomy into improved livelihoods of the people. Southern Sudan is known to host thousands of International Non Governmental Organizations and their affiliates that have drawn livelihood from its predicament. The outcome of the referendum might transform some of these NGOs either into friends of Sudanese people or simply perfect their usual art of Trojan-horse games of serving interests of their sponsoring countries. The referendum must pave the way to a peaceful outcome and a suitable infrastructure for interethnic co-existence. North or south; we are all Africans.
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