SCENARIOS-Sudan's looming vote on independence
By Opheera McDoom
KHARTOUM, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Sudan has just four months to prepare a referendum in which people from the south of the country will decide whether they want to secede from the north and form the world's newest nation.
But years of delays have left the referendum's organising commission with what many call a mission impossible. Here are some possible scenarios surrounding the vote.
The Jan. 9, 2011 date for the referendum that will determine the future of Africa's largest country is a red line for the south's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). Most analysts agree the south will vote for secession and emotions are running high in the semi-autonomous oil-producing region.
The SPLM knows time is short to prepare a credible referendum. But it says the northern National Congress Party (NCP) has stalled on the vote since the 2005 peace deal that ended the long war between the north and south. The plebiscite is intended to be the culmination of that accord.
The SPLM believes that agreeing to a delay would just bring more stalling, and would be political suicide for the party. The SPLM predicts a delay could provoke violent demonstrations by southerners which it may not be able to control.
If a delay is necessary, an announcement a week or two ahead of the vote, citing logistical problems, would be more acceptable than announcing a delay now. Any delay could not be more than a few weeks, in order to appease southerners bent on the self-determination they have fought for since 1955.