North Waits As Southern Sudan Votes On Secession
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is watching them from the capital Khartoum. Hi, Soraya.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: What are you seeing where you are?
SARHADDI NELSON: And the other reason is that the southerners who did stay to vote, there was not much encouragement on the part of the southern officials to get those people to register, because they're actually for unity - people who built their lives and businesses here and are not necessarily looking for Sudan to split apart.
INSKEEP: OK. So, those are the southerners who are in the capital, Khartoum, who are able to vote at a distance, as it were, in this referendum on the independence of southern Sudan. What about northerners? People who are watching, perhaps, their country, from their perspective, being torn apart here?
SARHADDI NELSON: They're not very happy. I mean, they're trying to put on a brave face, but they are, indeed, very, very concerned about what their future holds, especially since many of the oil fields that are in Sudan will be part of the south once the new borders are drawn if, in fact, the partition happens.
INSKEEP: Look, this is for peace. This is to prevent war. This will make for a better Sudan. We'll have a stronger Sudan for it. I mean, he really is trying to pump his people up. But there definitely is not much jubilation up here in the north.
INSKEEP: That's interesting you mention that some natural resources would go away from Sudan if independence is achieved for the south. What other challenges would there be for the remainder of the country, the northern portion of Sudan, if this referendum succeeds?
SARHADDI NELSON: The other thing I should mention here in the north is that there is - has been for a while, and is now accelerating an effort to privatize the economy, to make it more friendly for foreign investment, which is badly needed to help reduce debt here.
INSKEEP: Soraya, thanks.
SARHADDI NELSON: You're welcome, Steve.
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INSKEEP: Now, there was hope for a peaceful referendum, but this morning, we are hearing some reports of violence in a border region between the north and south of Sudan. We'll bring you more as we learn it on NPR News.
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