Between 22 April and 6 May 2008, Sudan's fifth population and housing census was conducted in both North and South Sudan. Because it will have a decisive impact on future power and wealth sharing in Sudan, the census has been highly contested, and its outcome is likely to be controversial. Will the census enhance future stability in the Sudan? Or will it turn out to be a stumbling block and cause for further conflicts?

This briefing argues that the hotly contested census not only highlighted existing tensions between the North and the South on topics such as resources, power sharing, and identity but also intensified competition among Southern Sudanese political actors. The census, an immense logistical undertaking, mobilized the major political actors who seek to use it instrumentally in...

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