Apart from the contested Abyei area (yet to hold its local referendum on unity or secession) between North and South Sudan, the referendum in South Sudan that was agreed upon in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has been held with remarkable success, with much less violence than was feared. More than 90 percent of eligible voters have now cast their ballots.
It is all very fascinating, as it means there is a fundamental break with African post-independence history – where unitary central powers have fought protracted wars with rebel groups at the periphery. As some have argued, more than Eritrean independence, South Sudanese “liberation” from the Arab North Sudan may have opened up Pandora’s box – perhaps even the stability of the new South Sudanese state will also be compromised, as there are many different ethnic groups that want to see their expectations fulfilled.
For a good analysis outlining this problematique, see Rhodri Williams blog post “Revisiting uti possidetis: Is Southern Sudan’s referendum scarier if it succeeds?” http://terra0nullius.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/revisiting-uti-possidetis-is-southern-sudans-referendum-scarier-if-it-succeeds/
Sovereignty contested, demanded, withheld, and compromised is likely to become a very important phenomenon to follow for Africa watchers and international relations experts. An additional factor to this new dynamic is the emergence of new financially strong and resource hungry actors on African soil: China, India South Korea, Malaysia, and the Gulf States.