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2011年1月18日 (火)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 15
EDITORIAL: Referendum in Sudan

The people of southern Sudan faced a historic choice in a week-long referendum between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15. They were asked to choose between two roads out of the internal conflict that has plagued their country for decades: secession and independence; or reconciliation with northern Sudan and the establishment of a unified government.

Sudan is one of many countries around the world today that are riven by civil war or other forms of internal conflict because of confrontations between different ethnic and religious groups.

The central government in northern Sudan is controlled by Arab Muslims. Southern Sudan is led by African Christians.

The civil war between them began in the early 1980's and cost the lives of two million people. The war drove approximately four million from their homes in about two decades. It was described as the most costly civil war of the late 20th century.

Recently, a bloody conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur, which started in 2003, has gained international attention, but there is still deep-rooted hostility between north and south.

In 2005, the United States, Britain and other countries brokered a comprehensive peace deal between the northerners and the southerners.

An interim unified government was established to launch a peace process.

The referendum represents the final stage of that process.

Based on their experience of the past six years, people in southern Sudan have been asked to decide whether to form a new independent nation.

Since there is strong discontent with the northern government of President Omar Bashir among southern Sudanese, it is expected that the referendum will lead to secession and independence for the south.

It was especially important to make sure that the voting was peaceful.

The United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), a U.N. peacekeeping operation, supported the referendum. 国連PKOの国連スーダン派遣団(UNMIS)が投票を支援している。

Two Japanese Self-Defense Force officers were assigned to UNMIS headquarters.

The referendum was conducted under close international supervision, with a Japanese monitoring group also involved in the effort.

President Bashir has pledged to respect the decision of the southern Sudanese even if they choose independence.  南部が独立を選んでも、バシル大統領は意思を尊重すると述べている。

Before the referendum, Bashir, a representative of the south and the leaders of Egypt and Libya met and issued a joint statement calling for peaceful voting.

We welcome the cooperation between the north and the south on the referendum and the support of neighboring countries and of the international community.

Such cooperation and support is essential to preventing confusion after the vote and securing regional stability.

If the south opts for independence, that will not mean an end to its relationship with the north.

The border between the two regions has yet to be completely demarcated. A separate referendum to determine whether Abyei, an area with rich oil reserves that straddles the disputed border, belongs to the north or south has been put off indefinitely.

With most of Sudan's oil reserves, the principal source of the nation's foreign currency earnings, lying in the south, there are concerns that conflict over land and resources may flare up again between the upper and lower parts of Sudan.

Bashir is himself a controversial figure. The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of genocide and war crimes arising from the atrocities in Darfur.

There is good reason for the international community to worry about how Bashir will act after the referendum.

The United States has played a leading role in efforts to end the Sudanese civil war and the Darfur conflict.  スーダン内戦やダルフール紛争には米国が積極的にかかわって、国際社会を引っ張ってきた。

Meanwhile, China has expanded its presence in Sudan. It has secured oil rights and has strong influence over the country's central government.

Reining in Bashir and stabilizing Sudan requires effective cooperation among many countries, including, of course, the United States and China.

To contribute to international efforts to bring stability to conflict zones across the world, Japan should keep a close watch on developing issues and continue to provide necessary aid.


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