Sudan's southern provinces are preparing for a referendum that, if passed, would create an independent country in the south largely composed of animists and Christians, while the rest of Sudan would become an Islamist state under existing ruler Omar al-Bashir (who is facing additional pressure from Islamists to go even further than he already has).
It's hoped that this may end the ongoing ethnic cleansing and genocide due to ongoing fighting for more than 20 years throughout Sudan. I'm not so sure, but it will likely embolden the Islamists to continue pursuing their violent tactics in the region.
Other observers think that the partition may fuel separatist movements elsewhere in Africa and the rest of the world - a Balkinization of interests. That is a distinct possibility, but the actions in Sudan are a step in correcting longstanding colonial impacts - when the Europeans carved up much of Africa, they did so without regard to existing tribal lines and established arbitrary boundaries that separated tribes among multiple countries or paired longstanding enemies under one country's rule. That's led to conflicts throughout Africa, including the Rwandan and Congolese genocides.
Meanwhile, neighboring Kenya is gearing up for potential problems even as polling centers open for displaced Sudanese.
This will not directly affect the ongoing human rights crisis in Darfur, where Sudanese forces continue operating.
Labels: Darfur, Omar al-Bashir, partition, Sudan