Breaking Free

Southern Sudan’s Self-determination

01 March 2011
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IN JANUARY, the Southern Sudanese sounded their aspirations for their homeland, loud and clear: independence. Millions took to the polls in a plebiscite on self-determination and the vast majority favoured splitting from the north.

The ballots came in from the South Sudanese in the country’s home states as well as those residing in the north and in many other countries. Jubilation over the peaceful secession vote followed two decades of turbulence in Sudan in what some call one of Africa’s longest civil wars.

Religious and ethnic tensions fuelled discord between the Muslim-dominated north and Christian-majority south, ravaging the country and leaving some two million dead. The Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) reached a peace deal in 2005, mandating the referendum.

Benjamin Loyseau is a freelance photographer based in Paris. His work has appeared in Paris Match, The New York Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro and various other publications.

Keywords: Sudan civil war Africa Ethnic tension Benjamin Loyseau