Despite the uncertainty that surrounds an upcoming referendum on South Sudanese independence, South Sudan continues to prepare for statehood. The referendum will only be the beginning for the new nation.
More than 20 southern Sudanese political parties have agreed to hold a fresh census, new elections and rewrite the constitution if the south secedes as expected in less than three months.
The five-day conference in the southern capital Juba also agreed a broad-based, post-secession interim government would be headed by South Sudan President Salva Kiir until new elections.
South Sudan is also training 6,500 police cadets in anticipation of the referendum and what comes after:
They are being taught to perform crowd control, secure polling stations and other skills they will need for the planned January 9 referendum that is expected to see south Sudan vote to secede from the north. They are also ready to handle public disturbances, keep the peace and deal with crime.
In a sense, this activity is nothing new. As commenter Lee (Roving Bandit) said in September, “South Sudan has been a defacto independent country for at least the last 5 years anyway, and will continue to be autonomous even in the event of unity.” Still, independence would/will bring new complications and considerations for South Sudan, domestically, regionally, and internationally. Conducting a census, holding elections, re-writing the constitution, expanding the police force, and boosting their military will not be easy tasks. The current round of preparations could be an effective start at tackling some of those priorities.