Today's referendum in the southern Sudan is a "chance to turn the page on the past and write a new chapter in history," writes President Obama in the New York Times. "A successful vote will be cause for celebration and an inspiring step forward in Africa’s long journey toward democracy and justice," he writes. But he also recognizes that obstacles remain: "Lasting peace in Sudan will demand far more than a credible referendum."
The vote is a key part of the 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war. But even so, there remains significant challenges facing Sudan—millions of displaced peoples, crushing poverty, border disputes, and hundreds of thousands of refugees in the western region of Darfur. "Now, the world is watching," writes Obama, "united in its determination to make sure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations."