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Secession and the Meaning of Democracy

by on January 9, 2011

As South Sudan goes to the polls on this day, January 9th, to decide in a democratic manner whether to secede and form a new country we must wish them peace, and should consider what this referendum means.  Sudan has reached a point of democracy, which in this case I use to refer to one man, one vote, at least at a nominal level.  This, of course, won’t solve all of Sudan’s problems.  Even democratic Belgium hasn’t “managed to form a government since federal elections were held in June,” so I’m sure that Sudan can only use the elections as a stepping stone to the next issue that needs resolving.

What will that issue be?  Will it be Darfur, a part of Sudan about the size of Spain? Will it be oil reserves, which are mostly in the South (but not refined there)?

Whatever happens in Sudan, it will not stay in Sudan, or happen with without outside influence (hopefully the election is an exception). Darfur acquired worldwide attention – long after it was needed – because of genocide that peaked in 2005. People, organizations, and countries, are still watching. Separatist movements in other countries will be watching to see what South Sudan does right and wrong.

How will these issues be resolved? Will it be through democracy, as defined above?

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