Aug. 19, 2010, 10:38 a.m.
In less than half a year, Southern Sudan will vote to either secede or remain unified with the North. The potential post-referendum scenarios are a cause of considerable concern for many observers, as the possibility remains for renewed violence and a second civil war. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael have released a policy brief, which explores potential outcomes of the 2011 referendum.
Two of the Clingendael scenarios and all of the USIP scenarios envisioned the referendum occurring on time. For all the dire warnings about a return to civil war in Sudan and the gloomy scenarios envisioned by our organizations’ reports, it is worth recognizing that the CPA remains intact and in effect. Over the past year, several issues and events could have led to the unraveling of the CPA, including the disputed census, contentious legislation (including the Southern Sudan Referendum Act, the Abyei Referendum Act and the National Security Act), and the recent nationwide elections. None of these challenges were handled by the NCP and SPLM with particular grace or subtlety (elite bargaining between the parties remains the norm), but all were managed and widespread violence avoided. Of course, the referendum will be the ultimate test of the parties’ ability to collaborate and avoid disaster, in part because the SPLM has compromised in other areas while clearly signaling that they will not compromise on the referendum.