Sudan--a Chinese Affair?

Sudan's election: Let those people go The Economist: "Just in the west and the south together, more than 9m people depend on food handouts from abroad. Mr Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity."

The 41m strong Sudan, to the area the largest African country, is about to break into two parts. Omar al-Bashir has promised that the south may secede. The north Muslim part with the capital city Khartoum and the south Christian and animist rebel part with the town Juba. 20% of the Sudanese import comes from China and they export 48% of their goods, mainly petroleum products, to the same. 32% of the export goes to Japan. al-Bashir runs the oil business from Khartoum which is quite developed. The periphery of the country is, however, in very poor shape. Transparency International ranks Sudan with Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq in terms of corruption, ie, the bottom four in the rank.

In 2005 after the longest civil war in Africa with 2m dead, the so called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the north National Congress party (NCP) of al-Bashir and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of the semi-autonomous south. As part of the deal was an election for democratization that happened this weekend. 25% of candidates in the parliament would be women. However, the so called Umma party, the Communists and the SPLM have boycotted the election due to overt fraud in the set-up which makes it a walk in the park for Mr Bashir at the same time as its relevance is minimalized.

Mr Bashir who came to power in a coup 1989 is supposed to be what keeps Sudan a notch over Somalia and his presence, despite the ICC warrant, is necessary for not inciting chaos his supporters claim. Early next year there is supposed to be a referendum held for the possibility of the secession of the south. Independence is not going to make the south prosper in the short run, unfortunately. A somewhat pessimistic account of the election is given in this New York Times article. Considered a warm-up for the referendum it has given a bitter taste.

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