Africa News blog
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Back in1978, Sudanese statesman Abel Alier decided he had had enough of negotiating with troublesome locals over a controversial development project. Exasperated at the endless obstacles, he vowed to force it through without an agreement.
“If we have to drive our people to paradise with sticks we will do so for their own good and the good of those who come after us,” he infamously said.
Something similar must have been going through the minds of mediators in recent weeks as they tried to push for an agreement between Sudan’s intractable northern and southern politicians.
Sudan is now just 48 days away from the scheduled start of two referendums — the first on whether the oil-producing south should declare independence, the second on whether the disputed central Abyei region should join north or south.
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.