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Nashville, Tennessee– Several million people in Southern Sudan are voting this week in the historic referendum on whether to declare independence from a government based in the north. About 55,000 Southern Sudanese are casting ballots in the United States and seven other countries.

Chol drives in a convoy of more than a dozen cars. As it snakes out of the parking lot, some passengers sing a song by former guerrilla fighters who now lead the government and army of semi-autonomous Southern Sudan.

“We will never surrender; we will keep fighting until we get what we want,” they sing in Arabic, the national language.

At the end of the song, they pump their fists in the air and chant: “Yes to separation!”

The referendum is part of a 2005 peace agreement that helped end two decades of civil war, which left about 2 million dead. The war pitted a government dominated by Arab Muslims in northern Sudan against black Christians or animists in the south.


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