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Submitted by Ibrahim Ahmed Elbadawi on
Dear Shanta, I just read the article, which I think is a true reflection of the dangers looming over the Sudan. I also think that your comment on the article in the light of the Referendum paper is balanced and thoughtful. However, if there is any positive thing coming out of Sudan these days it must be the emerging democracy alliance between the SPLM and the northern opposition parties. This alliance is steadily exerting pressure on the National Congress Party to agree on key legislations aimed at ensuring fair and transparent elections. I think the outcome is likely to be one of two extreme: should the broad coalition succeed, I think we will have a post-conflict democracy that might succeed in keeping the country united, or at least deliver a peaceful confederal system between north and south; or, instead, we could have an inter-state war followed by very conflictive relationship between the two nascent Sudanese states. In this context both the ICC threat hanging over the President of Sudan and the vulnerability of the south would, in my view, tip the balance of power in the NCP toward the hardliners, who favor confrontation with the SPLM and suppression of the northern opposition. Under this scenario, I would agree with the NY article in that this time the central Nile valley may not be that resilient and violence might very well creep from the peripheries to engulf the whole country. I think the dual (SPLM-NCP) approach that the US administration is still pursuing in its mediation efforts should be abandoned and the popular northern opposition as well as the other southern stakeholders (beyond the SPLM) should now have a seat in the table. Ibrahim Ahmed Elbadawi, PhD Former World Bank staff and visiting Research Fellow, Center for Global Development