The big story this week is the SPLM's signal that they wont take UDI off the table if the NCP makes unreasonable demands on the upcoming referendum. A link to the story is here.
A shot across the bow, certainly, but there are a few mitigating circumstances behind this strong signal from the SPLM worth considering:
1.) The referendum is sacrosanct in the minds of the Southerners, not just the SPLM. All feel that the NCP will attempt to place conditions on the process so ridiculous that the entire effort will be thrown into disarray, delayed and/or undermined by a lack of confidence. The conditions they're bringing to the table in the discussions of this process reflect that reality.
2.) The US was supposed to act as the defacto principal guarantor of the CPA, but that has changed. The USG position is floundering somewhere between "nuanced diplomacy" with the NCP and quibbling over humanitarian access in Darfur. The Obama Administration has neither an idea of what it wants to see accomplished in Sudan, nor does it appear to be on a track towards trying to find those objectives.
The SPLM has been frustrated with the Obama Administration with its floundering and sees it has to help them refocus on the project at hand, namely the CPA. Throwing down the UDI card is the best/only way to help Washington refocus on its role of being the principal guarantor of the CPA. Let's see how they respond.
3.) The final point is that succession by referendum in the South is virtually a given. This will be a serious black eye to Khartoum and the NCP. Forcing the SPLM and the south to break it off by a UDI is a face saving tack they can take. Unfortunately, getting tough by the SPLM on this issue only walks into their trap.
Bottom line: this marker laid down by the SPLM isnt coming out of left field; it's the consequence of existing realities. They're simply getting tougher in order to realign allies and keep the NCP on the defensive.