The vote on whether or not the southern half of the country of Sudan should form its own, independent, nation has been coming for a long time now. The country has experienced decades of civil war as the predominantly Muslim northern section of the country and the predominantly Christian southern section have fought against each other. Eventual peace was achieved when the two decided to share resourced with the caveat that, eventually, the south would be allowed to vote on whether or not to become its own nation.
On Sunday, those from the southern half of Sudan began voting on a referendum that would, is passed, allow them to form their own independent nation. The problem comes in the way in which the country’s resources are spread out. The southern half of the country is where the rich oil reserves are located but the machinery to get that oil out of the ground and transport it to where it can do any good is located in the north.
Voters spent the night outside of polling places, waiting for them to open so they could cast their vote. There was concern that members of the northern part of the country would try to prevent people in the south from voting. The very first vote was cast at 8 a.m. local time and it was cast by the South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.
The peace deal between the two halves of the country was signed back in 2005. The peace deal included a promise to eventually have the referendum that would decide on southern independence.
There have been fears that a decision to split the country might lead to more violence between the northern and southern halves of the country. Much of the wealth and resources are in the north, but a huge amount of land mass and the oil reserves are in the south. The vote on whether or not to split the country has been met with much resentment and dislike from northern parts of the country.
If the south does separate there are many problems facing the country. The southern half of Sudan is much poorer with fewer infrastructure than the north. South Sudan will also be entirely land-locked which will make transporting the oil from the oil reserves to the ocean difficult.
So far, however, there have been no reports of violence for those waiting and wanting to cast the vote. In many areas in the south there were reports of celebrations and playing of music.