The crucial vote in the Sudan begins today. Already there has been violence in the lead up to today’s referendum. George Clooney, actor, director and a Messenger of Peace for the United Nations is currently in the southern Sudanese capital city of Juba. He is here for the week long independence referendum vote in his campaign to raise awareness for the referendum that is expected to divide the Sudan into north and south.
“We are the anti-genocide paparazzi. We want them to enjoy the level of celebrity attention that I usually get.”
“I am excited to see a country vote for its freedom for the first time. I’ve never been around to see one of those before and I’m very honoured that I’m able to be a witness of this kind of independence,” said Clooney.
Issues affecting this referendum include the oil rich region around Abyei, how the national debt will be paid off, and how to partition the border. Approximately 3.9 million southerners will be voting in the referendum. The referendum comes as a peace agreement from the war which ended in 2005 and cost about two million lives.
“I have lots of fears. I have fears about Abyei, a lot of fears about Abyei in particular. And I think if you don’t deal with that than this could fall apart very easily,” said Clooney.
“There are a lot of issues at play. Most of them are negotiable but it’s understanding the players better and making sure that we don’t have outsiders coming in that just say here’s what we can do and start cutting up land the way Africa in general has be cut up over the years by other people.”
“We have a very short attention span and this will be a news story for a minute then it will go off of the news. So our hope is that can be sustained. I couldn’t guarantee that obviously, but if it has anything to do with me I’ll keep talking about it.”
Clooney has not been able to let the problem of peace in the Sudan slip away from the public’s view. He refuses to and has blatantly used his celebrity status to keep this in the forefront of politicians’ minds and the media’s view. Clooney’s satellite project went live December 30th – the Satellite Sentinel Project is a joint project shared between the U.N.’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme, Harvard University, the Enough Project and Clooney’s posse of Hollywood funders which will monitor troop movement in and around the area of oil-rich Abyei.