Wednesday, January 5, 2011

War or Peace?

The January 9th, 2011 Referendum is on everyone’s mind.  Secession is the clear choice for southerners, but no one trusts the government of Khartoum to let it happen peacefully.  Already the UN and the various NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in S.Sudan are strategizing ways to accommodate the expected influx of a million Southerners who currently live in northern Sudan.  After the Referendum, they will immediately become unwanted in the North, instant refugees or displaced persons as they trek southward.  Meanwhile, both North and South are actively beefing up their military along the dividing line between North and South.  Twice during November, Antonov planes from Khartoum dropped bombs on the town of Aweil, which just happens to be in the oil-producing region of S.Sudan.  “Sorry,” said Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum in an unusually candid moment, “We meant to drop it on Darfur.”  Obviously the North is trying to depopulate the area so that there will be no southerners there to vote for secession. 
This photo shows a bridge outside the town of Rumbek that cracked under the weight of tanks rumbling across it as they headed northward to fortify the internal border.  We had to exit our vehicle and walk across, while the car carefully inched its way over the section bent by the tanks. We made it across safely—twice!

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