(JUBA, SUDAN) – As residents of Southern Sudan eagerly go to the polls to cast their votes for independence, violence continues to complicate what most hoped would be a peaceful process.
Residents all across the country are currently able to vote in a referendum for southern independence, which would separate the Islamic northern region of the country from the oil-rich and largely Christian south. This vote follows a nearly 20-year civil war that has claimed over two million lives. Voting has been frequent in the south, but ballots have been cast few and far between in the north, where residents are not as enthusiastic about a possible split.
Fighting continued Monday in the oil-rich province of Abyei, near the north-south border, where South Sudanese officials say 20 policemen were killed and 30 others injured by Arab militiamen. Military officials say the policemen were killed with anti-tank weaponry, indicating they are backed by the military in the north. However, Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, denies any state involvement.
In the south, pro-separation and anti-Khartoum signs are everywhere. “Bye Bye Bashir” read one banner, a sign of the long-standing animosity between the two regions which references current Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
The voting is scheduled to last through Saturday, but the results are not expected to be announced until early next month.
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