African business, politics and lifestyle
What future for southern Sudan?
In the village of Leer, reminders of civil war are everywhere, such as a large hole where most of the village would crouch, hiding from bomber planes and helicopter gunships.
James Chuol, who is now 27 years old, fought in the war as one of thousands of children recruited to fight for the southern rebels. He is now a teacher.
“We went to the bush as child soldiers and we were really like children … We were trained by the big people how to fight the enemy, how to hide ourselves in the bush,” he told Reuters Africa Journal.
The war between north and south started in 1983. In 2005 the two sides signed a comprehensive peace agreement.
According to the agreement, southern Sudan will have a referendum in 2011 to decide whether it will be independent from the north. The country will hold joint elections next year.
In Leer, Chuol hopes the elections run smoothly. Because if they do, he’ll be able to cast another, more important vote — in the 2011 referendum.
“I want southern Sudan to be separated from the north. I need southern Sudan to be different from northern Sudan because we the people of southern Sudan have really suffered,” he said.
His views at least are clear and if they are shared by other southerners, a lot will have to be done to persuade them not to vote for secession.