A referendum in the Abyei region, which is along the border between Sudan and the recently separated South Sudan, is asking inhabitants which country they wish to be a part of. Being rich in oil, it has been a point of contention, and part of the conflict between the two countries that has existed on-and-off since the 2011 independence of South Sudan. It is roughly analogous to the oil-rich Kirkuk region of northern Iraq, which lies on the edge between Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of the country.
Neither country endorses the referendum, and there is dispute within Abyei itself about whether this is a good idea. But the effort is going forth anyway. Caught between two warring states, there must be a great deal of anxiety and dread. By going forth, they are trying to push the decision on their own terms. As a prominent priest in the region states, “Abyei is tired of waiting.”