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President Bashir Announces Sudan Would Accept Separation

President Omar al-Bashir announced in a speech this week that Sudan would accept the secession of the southern region, should southerners vote for independence in next year’s election, the BBC reports. This is a significant break from the past, when Bashir and his allies were accused by opposition leaders of planning to fix the election to ensure a vote against secession in order to maintain control over the south’s oil wealth. Bashir did say that the south’s oil would continue to be pumped to the north for processing until the south could construct its own facilities. While the country is one of the poorest in the world, the south has a significantly lower standard of living.

Critics remain skeptical about Bashir’s willingness to follow through on his promise and question the reason behind his unusually conciliatory tone. There is currently an international arrest warrant issued for Bashir in relation to war crimes in Sudan’s embattled Darfur region. The country was involved in prolonged north-south civil war until 2005. The referendum on secession is part of the peace deal negotiated at that time.

Sudan, which topped the world index for failed states in 2006, is largely regarded as an area known to contain terrorist training camps. Some argue that South Sudan would have a high risk of becoming a terrorist hot bed and failed state should independence be achieved.

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