Will there be blood?
It’s the question on everyone’s mind: will war break out after the referendum? The short answer is: I don’t know. And it’s possible, nobody does.
The president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, was in town on Tuesday saying all the right things. Apparently, he promised to accept the outcome of the referendum, whatever it will be. People in Juba seem to be taking him at his word.
At the same time, accounts tell of troop movements and Sudanese air attacks along the border between north and south. In response, a very interesting project has been launched called the Satellite Sentinel Project as an attempt to monitor threats to human security in Sudan, particularly along the sensitive border areas like Abyei. The idea is to use satellites to witness events in near real-time and put all parties on notice that if they commit atrocities including war crimes, the world will be watching.
Regardless of the quiet nervousness among internationals over the future of Sudan as one country or two, people in Juba are already beginning to celebrate. There is music in the air and rallies all over town. Southern Sudanese, it seems, are ready to wave goodbye to Khartoum’s presence in their lives.
John Lewis, KAIROS International Human Rights Coordinator, accredited by the South Sudan Referendum Commission, is currently in South Sudan on behalf of the Canadian churches monitoring the self-determination referendum called for in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending 20 years of North-South civil war.