Wednesday, January 12, 2011

US-Sudanese citizens cast their vote for independence

A number of Sudanese natives living overseas are voting in this weeks freedom referendum. Even thought they may live far away, the memories of the violent Sudan civil war directly influences their vote.

From the Everett Daily Herald, we find this facinating story of a family with dual US-Sudanesse citizenship casting their vote. Writer Gale Fiege profiled voters Wadi and Karlin Lissa.

“There was a lot of emotion and excitement at the polling place,” Wadi Lissa said. “We had to wait 45 minutes, but that gave us time to visit with other southern Sudanese and hear their stories.”

The people the Lissas met in Seattle and the friends and family members they have phoned back home all support independence from northern Sudan. All the years of loss to violence in the country has been too much to bear, and people want a change, he said.

Though they have been away from their native country for more than 12 years, the Lissas remember the violence as if it happened yesterday. Many relatives and friends have died.

The secession referendum was part of the 2005 peace agreement aimed at ending the 50-year civil war in Sudan. The people of the south are primarily Christian or tribal animists while the well-established north is mostly Islamic.

It won't be easy to build a new country, because south Sudan is poor, has little infrastructure and is one of the most uneducated regions of the world, he said. Still there is much hope.

“Though I have voted here in the U.S., this is the first time I have ever been able to vote for anything regarding the Sudan,” Wadi Lissa said. “It is historic, we are fortunate to be part of redrawing the map of Africa. And this is just the beginning.”

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