It was welcome news for the government and people of Southern Sudan, when the EU last week formally opened a representative office in Juba. This will be good news for the south ahead of the upcoming elections next April and the 2011 referendum that they can now talk directly with the EU through a properly-accredited representative without having to go to Khartoum.
A number of countries have, since the 2005 CPA opened, consular missions in Juba, making access to consular service for the southern population much easier. In the wake of the opening of the EU office, more European nations are expected to open permanent bureaus in Juba, likely in the form of consulates so as to avoid offending the regime in Khartoum, which anxiously and with growing envy, watches these developments from afar as relations between Juba and the rest of the world continue to improve, while Khartoum continues to be shunned over the war waged on Darfur and otherwise draconian laws practiced in the north of the still-united country.
Meanwhile, reports from Addis Ababa indicate that the previously-divided freedom fighters from Darfur have reached a unity agreement after a series of meetings facilitated by the Ethiopian government. The groups will now negotiate with the regime in Khartoum as a single unit, aimed to improve their chances to reach a similar deal as done by the SPLM in 2005, when the SPLM/A and her allies forced a Comprehensive Peace Agreement to be signed in Kenya as a result of military and political unity against the oppressors from the north of the country, which for decades had unsuccessfully tried to subdue the southern population by subjecting them to Sharia laws and continuing to hold them in bonds as they siphoned away the oil wealth.
Meanwhile, Libya’s Col. Gaddafi has also echoed Egyptian sentiments that an independent southern Sudan could “be a weak state,” forgetting that should indeed the southern Sudanese population opt for independence in the 2011 referendum, the East African Community would be standing by and ready to integrate the new nation and support them politically and economically.