Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - With global attention focused on the referendum which started in Sudan Sunday to determine whether the Southern part of the vast country will vote for unity or separation, analysts in Nigeria have highlighted the lessons to be learnt from the exercise and its implications for Africa’s geo-political landscape.
The experts said feelers from the people in Southern part of the country and those in the Diaspora indicate that the world’s newest country would emerge at the end of the process.
They also said this would alter the geo-political landscape of Africa, thereby bringing the number of countries in the continent to 54.
“I am very optimistic, going by every information coming from Sudan, that the South is going to give a ‘Yes’ vote to that referendum. This will lead to the split of the largest country in Africa by landmass into two, the Northern and Southern Sudan,'' a political analyst, John Nnamani, said.
Another analyst with the think-tank Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), in Lagos, Joshua Bolarinwa, expressed the belief that Southern Sudan will opt out.
''I am confident they will vote for independence. Southern Sudan will go peacefully and Northern Sudan will go peacefully, nothing can stop the breakaway, nothing can stop the autonomy of the South,'' he said.
The analysts said if Sudan was split into two, Africa will move from 53 to 54 countries, at least at the Africa Union (AU) level, because they will now have a new President and a new paraphernalia of a sovereign state.
Beyond this, however, they said the referendum has great lessons and implications for the continent.
“In Africa as a whole, this will be an eye opener to so many other trouble spots on seeking political solutions to some of those conflicts that cannot be solved militarily. Should this referendum go peacefully, as we do hope it would go, this will be a key lesson to other areas, where there is always agitation for self-determination, to pursue their case,'' Nnamani said.
Citing the case of Western Sahara, Nnamani called on the United Nations to speed up action in splitting Morocco and Western Sahara into two since they could not integrate politically.
''The Western Sahara case has also been on for so long. The government in Morocco is insisting they remain with them. The Western Sahara people are still saying they cannot belong to Morocco.
''So I would expect the UN to speed up action there to see a split, since both people cannot merge political, culturally; they are divergent in so many areas. A referendum like this (Sudan) will go a long way in easing some fighting going on. So the clear lesson there is for the government of Morocco to see reason and allow the Western Sahara people to be on there own,'' he said.
About 4 million people have registered to vote in the referendum, being monitored by nearly 3,000 local and International observers, including the African Union (AU), The Carter Centre, the European Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the League of Arab States.
So far, the observers have applauded Sunday peaceful start of the exercise, which will also include a separate referendum for oil rich Abyea area of Central Sudan to decide whether to remain as part of the North or join the South.
The referendum is part of the Comprehensive Agreement (CPA) between the government in Khartoum and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), signed in 2005 in Kenya.
That peace agreement ended the Sudanese civil war, tagged Africa's longest war.
-0- PANA SB/SEG 9Jan2011