ANALYSIS-Sudan faces split into two one-party states

Tue Jul 6, 2010 9:23am GMT

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM, July 6 (Reuters) - An internationally brokered peace deal that was supposed to transform Sudan into a unified democracy could be about to split Africa's largest country into two one-party states.

In six months time, people from Sudan's oil-producing south are due to vote in a referendum on whether they should secede and form Africa's newest nation -- a plebiscite promised under a 2005 accord that ended decades of north-south civil war.

Most analysts say south Sudan's poverty-stricken population, traumatised by the conflict and years of perceived northern exploitation, are likely to vote 'yes' for independence.

Many are already looking beyond the referendum to work out what an independent south -- and a newly separated north -- might look like. The political prognosis is not good, particularly following elections in April when opposition groups say the main northern and southern parties stamped out competition with intimidation and fraud.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch said it collected reports of harassment, arbitrary arrests and attacks on opposition figures, activists and journalists during and since the elections on both sides of the north-south border.

"The actions of the two main parties (in the north and the south) do not bode well for democratic governance after the referendum," said group researcher Tiseke Kasambala.

The domination of the two main parties was confirmed in the April elections -- the north's National Congress Party (NCP), led by president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, took most seats in Khartoum's national assembly while the south's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), won almost every seat in the semi-autonomous southern parliament.

Both parties last month strengthened their hold still further when they announced new cabinets in Khartoum and the southern capital Juba including only a handful of largely token opposition voices.   Continued...

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