(eTN) – With less than 6 months to go towards the scheduled referendum, in which the Southern Sudanese population can at last decide on their own destiny, more and more hints begin to emerge over the direction the campaign is set to take. While officially the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), running the southern government in Juba and being a coalition partner in Khartoum, is still guarded as to the position they will recommend and campaign for, individual senior members of the Juba administration have given their own opinions more openly, all of them for independence.
Egypt has made overtures and promised economic aid worth up to US$300 million, thought to be inducing second thoughts among the “Southerners.” The Khartoum regime also has cranked up project promises, having literally wasted the chance of building goodwill over the past five-and-a-half years since the CPA – comprehensive peace agreement – was signed between the erstwhile foes.
Few in the south, however, appear fooled by such last-ditch efforts to “buy us” as one regular source put it, adding “we will take projects and funding but will vote for freedom anyway when our time comes.” With the odds overwhelmingly in favor of an independence vote, fears are also rising that the process may face disruption by elements infiltrated into the south and surveillance and patrols are being stepped up to prevent any such attempts.
Meanwhile, expedition and adventure safari operators are standing by to see this process completed to then apply for and get licences and permits for operations in the Southern Sudan’s national parks, which are presently being strengthened through bilateral assistance but are not as yet receiving significant visitors numbers. This is something the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism hopes to change when the political processes towards independence have unfolded and been completed, and they can present their natural attractions and the spectacle of the big migration of the white-eared kobs between Boma National Park and the river Nile to prospective visitors.