African papers ponder Sudan's split

Sudanese supporters of secession wave regional flags and pro-separation placards Only southerners are eligible to take part in the poll

Commentators in the African press anticipate with some anxiety the referendum in which the people of Southern Sudan will be given the option to break away from the north.

Several have no doubt that the south will vote for secession. Some argue that partition will not benefit the Sudanese, and instead fuel separatist aspirations elsewhere.

Some commentators and analysts fear that secession will see the emergence of a host of problems for the southerners, who have been united in their opposition to the north but who may now turn on each other.

Pierre Emangongo in Democratic Republic of Congo's Le Potentiel

This vote, which was planned and imposed by the Western powers in order to serve foreign interests, will implicitly end the principle of the inviolability of the borders inherited from the colonial era... Oil interests are at the heart of the partition of the largest African country. Fighting for global leadership, the Americans want to take the control of Sudanese oil away from China, an emerging and powerful country that nurtures an excellent relationship with the regime of President al-Bashir.

Said Rajab in Tanzania's An-Nuur

The Western colonialists have encouraged the sentiments of nationalism, tribalism and Christianity in the Southern Sudanese people... Since when has the division of citizens of a country become a solution to their problems?… This would place Sudan in the state of never-ending conflicts and long-term rule by colonialists.

Michael Bleby in South Africa's Business Day

South Sudan's level of under-development is enormous... However much goodwill and assistance the outside world offers to Southern Sudan, a lack of graduates, experienced bureaucrats and technical skills will limit the pace at which the region can develop. If not managed with sensitivity by the south Sudanese and outsiders, there is a risk the large tasks at hand overwhelm the fledgling state.

Kenya's The East African

Southern Sudan is itself a patchwork of different communities brought together not by their geographical proximity but by their marginalisation by almost all Khartoum regimes since independence. Therefore, the fear that these communities could turn against each other after independence is real, given their history of ethnic rivalry and mistrust.

Editorial in South Africa's The Star

A bigger worry for us as Africans must be the consequences of Sudan splitting in two after the referendum in January. A split between north and south Sudan is inevitable but what's not is a potential genocide the African Union, the UN and the rest of the world must prevent at all cost.

Greg Mills and Terence McNamee in South Africa's Cape Argus

The south's inevitable divorce from the north is causing jitters in African capitals and further afield. The oft-heard mantra is that it would open a Pandora's box of separatist claims elsewhere in the continent.

Timothy Kalyegira in Uganda's The Monitor

Southern Sudan will be the most anxiously watched news story from Africa in 2011… Every country that shares an international border with the soon-to-be-independent Republic of South Sudan will be scrutinised for its stability and how it can play a role in stabilising the situation should the January 9, 2011 referendum result in civil war.

Editorial in Kenya's The Standard

Should there be a real reason to doubt President Omar al-Bashir's pledge… that he will honour the result of the ballot? Perhaps not. If anything, his administration will have real opportunities in trade, infrastructure and other development deals. The flipside is also true. Should they vote for unity, Khartoum still has an opportunity to spread the cheer down South and build real bridges, roads, trade and national cohesion.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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