Under the terms of a peace agreement signed in 2005 between northern and southern Sudan, the latter is expected to vote for secession in a referendum in 2011. But the traditional competition between nomadic groups in the south for the best cattle and grazing land has developed into a serious ethnic conflict in recent months, so the region could be too unstable to hold either the elections due next year or the referendum.
It has been generally accepted for some time now that the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) has established firm control over most areas of Somalia – including Mogadishu, the capital, and other leading ports and towns. By contrast the interim government has no presence outside the small and ruined town of Baidoa, 150 miles west of Mogadishu, though it enjoys the support of the UN, the West and neighbouring countries.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev secured a third seven-year term of office after receiving 91 percent of the votes in a probably rigged poll on December 4, while his main challenger, Zarmakhan Tuyakbai, came second with only 6.6 percent. Most pre-election predictions were that the corrupt, authoritarian ruler of oil-rich Kazakhstan would win, but with a much smaller majority.
A Monthly Newsmagazine from Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT)
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