JOHANNESBURG – It has been said, correctly, that Sudan is a microcosm of Africa. For this reason, the entire continent will follow events in Sudan over the next few months with the greatest interest.
On January 9, 2011, the people of South Sudan will vote in a referendum to decide whether they will remain part of a united Sudan or form a new independent state. If they choose the latter option, the new state will come into being on July 9, 2011.
During the same period, even as Sudan is addressing the issue of its North-South relations, it will also have to arrive at a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict in Darfur.
During its nearly 55 years of independence, Sudan has experienced a succession of violent conflicts, in the South, the West (Darfur), and the East. It is commonly accepted that what lay at the root of these conflicts was the failure of independent Sudan – one of Africa’s most racially, ethnically, religiously, and culturally diverse countries – to construct a polity informed by the principle and practice of unity in diversity.