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.
Sudan and Chad are highly unstable neighbours, whose territorial integrity and national security are put at risk not only by internal feuding that spills over their common border but by direct hostility that drives them to support each other's insurgents and at times to go to war.
When rebel groups centred in Sudan's Darfur region attacked Chad's capital, Ndajamena, on February 2 it looked as if the long, corrupt and oppressive rule of presidentIdriss Deby (pic) might be ending, but Chad was not so lucky. As a report in the Economist put it, “Chad is one of Africa's poorest and least stable countries and Mr Deby one of the continent's worst presidents.”