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mia farrow

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April 9, 2010

the challenging, complex, and compelling realities of South Sudan

Dr John Garangs grave site

US Congressman Donald Payne, one of our finest, speaking with a group of elders in remote South Sudan

child in south Sudan

President of South Sudan, Salva Kir with me in his office in Juba

Jan 9, 2011 is the date for the referendum at which time South Sudan- under the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the deal between north and south that ended their second civil war in 2005- can vote to succeed from the tyrannical north. Everyone I spoke with in South Sudan wants independence from Khartoum. But what will that look like? And is South Sudan 'a pre-failed state'?

'Barring war, famine or genocide - and all are possible - in 10 months this sweltering, malarial shantytown will become the world's newest capital city in the world's newest country, South Sudan."

'The CPA correctly identified the key issue at the heart of both the Darfur conflict and many of Sudan's other internal divisions. Darfur is not, as Western campaigners often have it, a war by Arabs on Africans - or not exactly. There is a racial dimension to the conflict, but Sudan's mixed mosaic of ethnicities and tribes makes a nonsense of a clear-cut partition. Rather, the war in Darfur is symptomatic of a fundamental division that has plagued Sudan since independence: center versus periphery. For more than half a century, a dominant Khartoum elite has marginalized and repressed all others - Kordofanis and Darfuris, Christians and followers of traditional beliefs, the uneducated and poor, western, eastern and southern Sudanese alike. The CPA's authors understood that the way to a united, peaceful Sudan was to remake it as a place where all Sudanese had a say. They planned to achieve this through a national election on April 11, which, if free and fair and inclusive, would weaken Khartoum's grip. The south, which suffered most from Khartoum's discrimination, would also be granted a referendum on secession.

When the CPA was signed, few took seriously the possibility of southern separation. That was partly because the south's leader, John Garang, was a committed unionist. But six months after negotiating the deal, Garang died in a helicopter crash , and his vision for autonomy within Sudan died with him. With the West preoccupied with a high-volume campaign over Darfur, Khartoum was able to drag its feet on the implementation of a deal with the south that offered it only loss of territory and oil. That bad faith reinforced enthusiasm for separation in the south. "People felt they would remain second-class citizens inside Sudan forever", says Ann Itto, deputy general secretary of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). Independence became the official southern goal. Under the CPA, it was also an option. Which is how, by backing a peace deal, the world now finds itself also supporting the breakup of Sudan by default.'

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