Sudanese Referendum Begins

The southern half of the country is looking for independence.

Posted: 01/10/2011 02:24 PM EST

Voting began yesterday in the six-day referendum that will determine whether or not the southern half of Sudan secedes to form a new country. While the first day of voting was marred by violence in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei that has left more than 30 dead, hopes are high for a better future. President Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, wrote that, “If the south chooses independence, the international community, including the United States, will have an interest in ensuring that the two nations that emerge succeed as stable and economically viable neighbors, because their fortunes are linked.”

Along those lines, Al-Jazeera reports that Sudan president Omar Al-Bashir has told former U.S. president Jimmy Carter that his government will take on all the country’s nearly $38 billion debt if the south chooses independence. Carter is on hand to monitor the proceedings, along with other international figures like former U.N. general secretary Kofi Annan.

The secession, which is the expected outcome, would not go into effect until July. But already there is interesting discussion of what the new country should name itself. Suggestions include Nilotia, Nilotland, the Nile Republic, Cushitia, Azania, the Kush Republic, South Sudan, or New Sudan. The website Nation-branding argues against the latter two: 

          “One possible option is ‘New Sudan’, but some oppose the idea as that name would associate the new country with the actual Sudan, which is considered a pariah state. For a weak, new country with weak influence, getting the world population to distinguish between ‘Sudan’ and ‘New Sudan’ would take aeons. Many people still confuse South Korea with North Korea and don’t remember which one is the rogue state, so any combination of names including the word ‘Sudan’ will probably be counter-productive to the new country, nationals say.”

The "Nile" names could be problematic, the article goes on to say, because Egypt considers itself the owner of the "Nile brand." Which of course brings up possibility of beef with Dr. Dre over "Kush."

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