In 2005, leaders representing North and South Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended decades of civil war in which millions died. This month, as part of the CPA, Southern Sudanese went to the polls in a week long ballot to vote on whether to remain part of Sudan. The ballot took place relatively peacefully, and early vote counts show a comfortable majority in favor of secession.
Yet the real challenge may come now that the voting has ended. In a briefing released last November, the International Crisis Group warned that "the referendum is sure to shock Sudan's political system." Several outstanding issues may raise tensions on either side of the world's newest border unless the North and South leaderships negotiate a working compromise. Nomad groups currently cross the border throughout the year, and to many it is not yet clear how the referendum will affect their way of life. Likewise, goods, services, and resources are distributed unevenly across the border, and a solid framework agreement on how to manage access to these necessities needs to be worked out.
For more on Sudan's future as two countries, I spoke with Fouad Hikmat, Crisis Group's African Union and Sudan Special Advisor. Listen to our conversation below.