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CONNECT THE WORLD

Shooting in Tucson; Modern-Day Piracy

Aired January 10, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Whether the motives were political or not, Washington is doing some serious soul-searching about the weekend's attack.

I'm Becky Anderson in London with the story.

Also this hour, a CONNECT THE WORLD special -- Sudan Vote. Less than 30 minutes from now, we're live in both the North and South of Sudan, where we may be nearing the birth of a new country.

And a CNN exclusive series for you this evening, piracy on the high seas. You often hear of Somali pirates terrorizing the waters.

Why do they do it?

We'll hear their story direct.

Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, that is CNN in the next 60 minutes.

Well, President Barack Obama says the U.S. is pulling together as a country. But many questions remain after Saturday's shooting, which killed six people and left a further 14 wounded.

Well, the man who may provide the answers is due to appear in a Phoenix courtroom any minute now. Jared Lee Loughner is accused of attempting to murder Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she met constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona.

Well, Giffords was shot in the head and remains in a critical but stable condition.

Susan Candiotti has the very latest on the investigation for you so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?

Hello? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911, there was a shooting at Safeway.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The calls to 911 paint a picture of the chaos that unfolded as a crazed gunman opened fire outside the Safeway grocery store.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like the guy had a semi-automatic pistol. He went in, he just started firing and then he ran. There's multiple people shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Oh my god.

CANDIOTTI: The man who allegedly pulled the trigger, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, has so far been charged with just the crimes related to victims who were federal employees, including two counts of murder for killing a federal judge and a Congressional aid, two attempted murder charges for killing two other aides and the attempted murder of Congresswoman Giffords.

Loughner apparently isn't talking in custody and the FBI isn't commenting on this motive.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: I will say and will emphasize there is no information at this time to suggest any specific threat remains.

CANDIOTTI: Investigators did reveal what could be a key piece of evidence discovered in a safe in Loughner's home, a letter from Congresswoman Giffords thanking him for attending a similar neighborhood event back in 2007. Investigator say they also found a separate envelope with what appears to be Loughner's signature and the following words, "I planned ahead. My assassination, Giffords."

Loughner's past also includes a troubled time at Pima Community College, where he was first suspended and then quit last October after what the school said were multiple run-ins with campus police.

BEN MCGAHEE, LOUGHNER'S INSTRUCTOR: He was physically removed after probably the third or fourth week.

CANDIOTTI: To return to campus, Loughner was told he would have to present a doctor's note, stating he would not be, quote, "a danger to himself or others."

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, that was Susan Candiotti reporting for you.

While the motive for this attack remains unclear, some have suggested a link to the increasing anger and polarization witnessed in American politics.

So, has the country's political discourse turned dangerous?

Jim Acosta investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: We, the people of the United States.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When members of the House took turns reading portions of the constitution last week, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords got the First Amendment.

GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, wait a minute. Now, wait a minute.

ACOSTA: But in recent years, those free speech protections have allowed Americans on the right...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You lie!

(BOOS)

ACOSTA: And the left to say just about anything they want.

ALAN GRAYSON, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: The Republicans' health care plan for America -- don't get sick.

ACOSTA: The political rhetoric got so heated during the health care debate, protesters brought guns to town hall meetings. Some in Congress, including Giffords, found offices in their districts vandalized. Last March, Giffords objected to having her district placed in the crosshairs by Sarah Palin's political action committee in this map pointing out certain health care supporters.

GIFFORDS: When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.

ACOSTA: Congressman Jim Moran says Giffords told him just over a week ago she was still troubled by that map.

JIM MORAN, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: She was not going to be intimidated. She never indicated to me that she was scared, that she -- it -- but she was troubled by the environment that exists in many parts of the country, particularly in -- in her district.

ACOSTA: Over the weekend, a SarahPAC representative told an online radio host it's all a misunderstanding.

REBECCA MANSOUR, SARAH PALIN AIDE: We never, ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. It was simply crosshairs like you'd see on a map.

ACOSTA: But just after the election, Palin Tweeted about the map, referring to the bull's eye icon used to target the 20 Obama Care loving incumbent seats.

Trying to make sense of the rampage, the Pima County sheriff put some of the blame on the public discourse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM JANUARY 8, 2011, COURTESY KGUN)

SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Was it a national mindset?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "FACE THE NATION," COURTESY CBS)

EMANUEL CLEAVER, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: We are in a dark place in this country right now. And the atmospheric condition is toxic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Or the mind of a madman?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "FACE THE NATION," COURTESY CBS)

JON KYL, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: We really don't know what motivated this -- this young person except to know that he was very mentally unstable.

ACOSTA (on camera): Investigators haven't said whether any political rhetoric motivated the gunman in Tucson. Still, one congressman plans to introduce a bill that would make it a federal crime to use violent imagery that incites violence against a member of Congress. That kind of law could be subject to a court challenge on the grounds of free speech.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, back in March, Sarah Palin addressed the use of crosshairs during a campaign trip to Tucson, blaming the media for the furor. Palin denied that she was inciting violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MARCH 26, 2010)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: We know violence isn't the answer. When we take up our arms, we're talking about our vote. We're talking about being involved in a contested primary like this and picking the right candidate, too, John McCain. We thank you for that. But this B.S. coming from the lamestream media lately about this...

(APPLAUSE)

PALIN: -- about us inciting violence, don't let -- don't let the conversation be diverted. Don't let a distraction like that get you off track.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Sarah Palin earlier on in 2010.

Well, in a moment, I'll explore whether it's time to tone down the political rhetoric.

But first, I want to bring you a sobering statistic. Have a look at this.

In the spring of last year, Politico.com reported that threats against members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, had soared 300 percent in just the first few months of 2010.

Well, my next guest says that he, too, has received threats.

Benjy Sarlin is the Washington correspondent for The Daily Beast.

And he -- and he joins us now.

You are no stranger, Benjy, it appears, to death threats yourself.

Am I right in saying that?

BENJY SARLIN, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, DAILY BEAST: Death threats myself, you said?

ANDERSON: Yes. No stranger to these. SARLIN: I -- I wouldn't go that far, exactly. But certainly we get unbalanced e-mails every so often. Many reporters do. So I wouldn't say I've ever been targeted personally. But I -- I mean it's easy to sense the kind of same sort of unhinged language in our in boxes, yes.

ANDERSON: All right, I get what you're saying.

Is there any evidence to suggest that this guy was associated with any one particular political ideology? SARLIN: All right, the evidence is very scant that this guy had any affiliation with any kind of organized political movement whatsoever. The closest we have is to one bizarre fringe character who talked about how grammar is being used to control minds across the country. This is not any kind of mainstream political movement on the left or right.

So right now, there's just not a lot of evidence that he fits neatly into any kind of political ideology.

ANDERSON: We have, though, reported that the incidents of threats against politicians is increasing. You've said, you know, you -- you are well aware of some deranged e-mails coming at you, yourself, and other journalists.

Why do you think this is?

SARLIN: Well, it's a very strange time in the country in general. I mean, ever since the economy really tanked in -- in late 2008, a lot of change kind of occurring very quickly, a lot of people losing their jobs. People have just been under a lot of pressure. And -- and the tone of politics almost always shifts in such conditions.

But, truly, in the last two years, we've seen a real up tick. And it's no surprise to hear those statistics about threats being up.

ANDERSON: So what are the political repercussions of all of this, do you think? SARLIN: The political repercussions?

It's hard to say. I think one thing that -- people are talking a lot about how this debate is becoming politicized, people are politicizing this attack. I -- I don't think this is that political at all, honestly. I think this is people very genuinely concerned, on the left, about the safety of their -- of their politicians and very genuinely upset about this on the right and very genuinely upset to be associated with someone who clearly was a fringe individual.

ANDERSON: Are things going to change, though?

Can you see this sort of divisive rhetoric being toned down in any way or is this the -- you know, this happened today, sadly. I mean we've seen six deaths and 14 people injured.

But will anything really change, do you think? SARLIN: Well, I will -- I would note this. You're seeing a lot of division right now, a lot of divisive rhetoric between people on the left and right. But you're not really seeing this among politicians. It's actually, in many ways, brought members of the House together. I've seen no one really using the same kind of combative tone since it happened.

It's also worth noting Sarah Palin removed the offending image that people have complained about, that crosshairs map, from her Web site. It's, perhaps, a sign that maybe in the future, she might be a little more careful.

ANDERSON: All right, as -- as may many others.

We're going to leave it there, mate.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us out of Washington, D.C. this evening.

Well, it's not yet known why Gabrielle Giffords was shot. But across the world, many politicians have been targeted because of their views.

Just last week, you'll remember, Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab Province, was assassinated by his own guard following his calls for the country's blasphemy law to be changed.

Well, in May last year, British politician, Stephen Timms, was stabbed in his office by a woman who objected to his support for the Iraq War.

And in Mexico, Rodolfo Torre Cantu is believed to have become one of the highest profile political victims of the country's drug war when he was killed in June, 2010. Now, he was a frontrunner to become governor of one of the worst hit states.

It gets you thinking, doesn't it?

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Still to come, meet a real life pirate. He tells us why he became a high seas hijacker and what he is planning to do with the ransom money.

Then we turn to our special on Sudan this evening. Thousands cast ballots in the country's historic vote on independence for the South. And despite a global spotlight, violence flares. That is coming up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, we read about them in storybooks -- glorified bandits who sail the seas hunting for treasures. Pirates have long been the stuff of legend, haven't they?

But off the coast of Somalia, they are a very real menace.

All this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, we're investigating modern-day piracy.

We'll show you how ships are hijacked, how ransoms are paid and why the task of stopping this high seas organized crime is so difficult.

Well, throughout the week, you'll hear from former hostages.

Tonight, though, Zane Verjee brings us the pirate's view.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Look into the eyes of a real pirate -- that's all he let us see, his eyes. His name is Gedi Mohammed Abdi. He's from Somalia and becoming a pirate, he says, was his best career option.

"There are no jobs and no money in Somalia," he tells us. "That leaves no options," says Gedi. You either join the Al Shabab militia or government forces or, if you have relatives, you become a pirate."

Gedi says his uncle, a pirate leader, phoned him one day, told him to visit the coastal town of Hardardhere, one of many pirate bases. Like the young men in these pictures, he says: "I was taught to handle a gun, taught about ammunition, how to swim, survive and how to attack ships."

There's no shortage of men like Gedi. According to one security consultant, more than 400 hostages are now being held, from roughly 50 different hijackings, since January, 2010.

British captain, Colin Darch, was once a hostage.

CAPTAIN COLIN DARCH, FORMER HOSTAGE: And they were a sort of rugged bunch with rags around their heads. And they were all aged between about 30 and 40. Some were nasty looking. Some -- some smiled a bit and were semi-pleasant. But and they all chew this narcotic weed all the time, the khat.

VERJEE: In Nairobi, Gedi tells me he quit the piracy business after three years because of the danger.

"I asked my uncle to free me, so I could have a better life," he says.

Gedi says he got $60,000 from his cut of the ransom, from a Spanish ship hijack in October 2009 -- more money than most hijackers get. His uncle was generous with him.

"I used the money to send my sister to Britain and my brothers to the U.S., " he tells me.

As for Gedi, "I'm waiting for a visa to Mexico," he says, then cross the border into the country he believes will offer him the best life, the United States.

Zane Verjee, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: The first of Zane's reports this week.

Tomorrow night, we go inside the business of piracy -- who invests in it, who reaps the rewards and the human cost.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): Somali pirates keep their money in cash or use it to make legitimate investments in neighboring Kenya, in places like Isli (ph) or Mombassa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many, many men and women who are being held hostage and no one deals with it. No one cares about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The business of piracy. That is tomorrow night here on CNN at this time.

Zane Verjee also blogging on our week long pirate special.

Head to the Web site, CNN.com/connect or to our Facebook page, Facebook.com/cnnconnect. You can become a friend if you are not one as of yet.

Much more to come tonight, including an update on the day's top stories.

And then, the birth of a nation. We'll have a special half hour focus on the voting in Sudan and what the North and the South each might expect once the country -- if the country is split in two.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I listen to the radio since yesterday -- almost Friday night, because I want to be updated on each and every event which is going around, which is happening. I sit in the morning and also through the radio I'm getting what is going on in other states across southern Sudan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So great a day for me and the best day in my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, you heard him. The mood is joyous in South Sudan, as the nation votes to be dividend in two.

I'm Becky Anderson in London and we are just minutes away from a 30 minute special program on the Sudanese referendum.

Before we get there, though, let's get you a check of the world news headlines here on CNN.

The accused shooter of a U.S. lawmaker is making his first appearance in a Phoenix, Arizona courtroom this year. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical but stable condition after the Saturday attack that left six people dead. President Obama said the coming days would provide time to reflect on what had happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, the main thing we're doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who have been impacted, making sure that we're joining together and pulling together as a country. And, you know, as president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously, I'm spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: President Obama there.

Well, CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is following developments in the case from New York.

And he joins us now -- what kind of -- under what kind of laws can he be prosecuted at this point?

What -- what's going to go on in court?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is likely to be the beginning of a very long and complicated legal process today. What's happening as we speak is that he's appearing in federal court in Tucson, Arizona to face the initial appearance on federal charges, United States government charges, that he attempted to kill a members of Congress, that he did kill an aide to the members of Congress and that he killed a United States federal judge.

All of those are federal charges, that is, charges brought by the United States government. And he is eligible for the death penalty in those cases.

He also will likely face charges from the state of Arizona, which also has jurisdiction because some of the murders were of individuals who were not federal government employees, who were just people who happened to be passing by. Those are violations of Arizona laws. And the state of Arizona will also be prosecuting him. He is also eligible for the death penalty under the state charges.

So both of these cases will likely go forward, but first they have to be brought. And as I say, this is the beginning of many months, if not years, of litigation.

ANDERSON: Jeffrey, how do you defend somebody who is effectively caught red-handed?

TOOBIN: Well, it's very difficult, to say the least. Certainly, the defense is very likely to have something to do with the mental state of Loughner. We have a defense in the United States called not guilty by reason of insanity. That means if the person is acquitted on those grounds, they are not released into the community, but they are sent indefinitely to a mental health institution, a secure one, but not to a federal -- not to a prison.

That is a very difficult defense to assert successfully. There's been a lot of controversy. Back in 1981, many people may remember a fellow named John Hinckley shot and almost killed President Reagan. He went to trial. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity. And he's been held in a mental health institution over the subsequent 30 years, although he -- he has been released for various short periods of time during that period.

Certainly, a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity will be something that Loughner's lawyers will be looking into. But first, there are going to have to be a lot of psychological evaluations of him and that's going to take a lot of time.

ANDERSON: Jeffrey Toobin with his analysis, as the accused shooter of a U.S. lawmaker makes his first announce in a courtroom in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jeffrey, we thank you for that.

TOOBIN: OK.

ANDERSON: Well, in other news, the daughter of a slain Pakistani governor says her heart is with the Giffords. Salman Taseer was assassinated last week, apparently because of his opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy laws. His children talked to CNN about the killing and the response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEHRBANO TASEER, DAUGHTER OF ASSASSINATED GOVERNOR: There were 200 - - over 200 (AUDIO GAP) lawyers who went and put garlands around my father's assassin's neck and showered him with rose petals. And these men are the so-called vanguard of justice and they're men of law. And, in fact, the opposition party's judicial head was there, as well, in that little mob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: ETA calls it a firm commitment to work to end armed confrontation. The Basque separatist group has announced a permanent cease-fire. The Spanish government is suggesting it's a good step, but that it may not mean an end to the violence.

Well, the president of Tunisia is blaming terrorist acts by hooded gangs for the deaths of at least 19 people. They were killed over the past two days in protests over rising food prices and housing. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

And Germany has lifted a quarantine on 3,000 poultry and hog farms. It comes after negative test results cleared the farms of further doubts in contamination. But officials say contaminated feed may have been given to hens in Denmark.

And a winter storm is bringing travel chaos to the Southeastern U.S. Some 10 centimeters fell in only a couple of hours on Atlanta, Georgia. The storm shutting roads and forcing airlines to cancel thousands of flights.

Well wherever you are watching in the world, chances are your country is a lot older than you are -- decades, perhaps even centuries. Well, imagine being around when a new country is born. It doesn't come from nowhere. It also means an existing country is being carved up, of course. It's a moment that will make some people happy and leave some feeling very hard done by. And it's a moment that may be coming to Sudan. The world is focused on what happens there in the coming days and weeks.

Here's what South Africa's former president told CNN's David McKenzie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I've spoken to a lot of ordinary Southern Sudanese. And they say this isn't a -- a vote for unity or separation. They feel it's a vote for freedom.

Can you sympathize with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely, yes. Absolutely. I mean the -- the -- a terrible part of the history of Sudan is that the relations between the North and the South have never been relations of equality, which is why you had this very protracted civil war. It is quite clear, I mean for the Southern Sudanese, very understandably, as you were saying earlier, for them, this is a moment of liberation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: When we return, the long lines of hope -- we're going to be live in the North and South of Sudan with expert analysis on what's going to happen next.

Don't go away.

A CNN special half hour on Sudan coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD TALKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: You can feel the excitement. The lines are long, but nobody seems bothered. The people of Southern Sudan are bracing for the birth of their nation. It all feels so different in the North, where it could be the death of a country as we know it. Will it all go off without a hitch? And who takes the all-important spoils?

Welcome to a special half hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. It's a rare event to witness the creation of a new country, but that is exactly what Sudan is voting on this week. It's a story that's captured world attention, not least with the help of celebrities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Sudan, Sudan --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: George Clooney's there. We'll tell you about his very cool Sentinel Project. And if you're rightly wondering what happens to all the Sudanese refugees who will be affected by this vote, Hollywood star Matt Dillon is in the thick of things, taking your questions right here.

All that coming up but, first, our reporters for you. David McKenzie is near Juba in the South. He'll have the mood there. And we've got Nick Kristof, who -- I believe I'm right in saying has spent time in more than 150 countries around the world, though made Sudan a very special case. He's been a keen advocate for Sudan for many years. Nick Kristof is from "The New York Times." Welcome to you both.

Let's begin this part of the show in Southern Sudan, where long lines under a hot sun aren't stopping people from casting ballots that could create the world's newest nation. David McKenzie is near Juba, and he joins us now with an update. Off you go, David.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, it's the second day of voting here in Southern Sudan. But really, it could have been the first, because the sense of euphoria, the sense of that quiet excitement of the Southern Sudanese is really palpable in the air here in Southern Sudan, as you said, could be voting for a new nation.

And they have a choice between unity and separation. Everyone -- everyone to a person I've spoken to in Juba, around Juba, in places outside of the capital of Southern Sudan, they don't want unity here. They want separation. They want secession. They fought a bloody war for decades with the North. Two million people killed in that war. It really was one of Africa's big tragedies. Africa's largest country could be split in two.

I was at a voting station earlier today. Women, particularly, in that area were sleeping overnight, Becky, just so they could get their chance to vote, and this was their second day of voting. Turnout has been high in Southern Sudan. There had been six months ago a lot of fears that we couldn't get to this moment.

But now that the moment is here, what they're telling me is they want to break their shackles with the North.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE (voice-over): They call it their long walk to freedom. For Oliver Bulli, it's been a long slog. A veteran of Sudan's war between North and South, a bullet shattered his leg. But it didn't kill his spirit.

OLIVER BULLI: I have to agree. We've been through hurts and rivalries, I have to agree.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): He says he cast his vote for freedom.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Southern Sudanese got up before dawn to come to this polling station. They said they've waited for decades and so, more of a wait doesn't matter.

There, on the ballot, it's a vote for unity or separation. But really, there is no choice for these people. They say they are second- class citizens. They want independence, cast aside the North.

PETRONELLA WAWA, SUDANESE VOTER: This is the greatest thing that has happened to me in life. It has given me an identity. It has shown me that I have a country now.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Lured by the promise of a country of their own, tens of thousands of Southern Sudanese exiles making the hard but hopeful journey home.

(CHILDREN SINGING)

MCKENZIE (voice-over): They've come to build their nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my one true wish granted. I must come back to come and see my own people here, also, and to be among my people.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Arriving with almost nothing but faith in a better future.

(WOMEN SINGING)

MCKENZIE (voice-over): It's what they're praying for at St. Kizito Church. Kathy Gale voted for her baby son, Duku (ph).

KATHY GALE, SUDANESE VOTER: I'm voting for my children. Now, I didn't want this thing to repeat itself again. I want my kids not to suffer anymore. I want to let suffering end with me.

(GROUP SINGING)

MCKENZIE (voice-over): And this is their moment in history. They can finally dare to believe that freedom is theirs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: Well, Becky, they have a few more days of voting in Southern Sudan, but because they're reaching their 60 percent key threshold that needs to make this a valid vote, people are just streaming in as fast as they can into the polling stations across Southern Sudan.

There have been clashes in the rest of Abyei region north of here. But for the people here in the South, that's hundreds of miles away and, really, out of mind. What really they are thinking about here is that final step that they could take to independence. Becky?

ANDERSON: Don't go away, stay with us. I want to get to the North, possibly, though, get back to you. There's quite a different atmosphere in the North. Many people there fear what might happen when the South breaks away, taking much of Sudan's oil resources with it. There are also some political concerns, as Ben Wedeman now reports.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

(PEOPLE SINGING)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the South, celebrations. In the North, bitterness. Sudan's historic referendum can be seen as the birth of one nation and the death of another.

What is beyond dispute is that the North and the South, which fought for decades at an appalling cost in human lives, are going their separate ways.

NABIL ADIB, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: It's a divorce. But it now is a divorce, and it can be a very nasty one.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Lawyer Nabil Adib worries that hard-liners in the mainly Muslim North will use the divorce to consolidate power and repeat the mistakes of the past.

ADIB: Part of the ruling party is thinking, "After all, this is good. We are going to deal with only Muslims and Arabs, and this will make it easier for us."

WEDEMAN (voice-over): President Omar al-Bashir recently declared that if the largely African South breaks away, full Islamic law would be implemented in what remains of Sudan. Some see that as a recipe for more trouble, given that the North, despite its Muslim-Arabized majority, is still home to diverse ethnic and religious groups.

The Darfur region, a vast chunk of western Sudan, remains in open revolt against Khartoum. After the South, Darfur could be next to break away.

WEDEMAN (on camera): What would be left is a severely diminished Sudan, smaller, weaker, deprived of much of its oil resources and, potentially most dangerous, nursing a bruised ego.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The North may yet come to terms with the loss of the South, but it doesn't have to like it, says Islamist intellectual Hassan Makki.

HASSAN MAKKI, PROFESSOR, INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF AFRICA: Now, the invention of South Sudan is a reality. You have to accept it. If it is a poison, you have to drink it.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): But some want Sudan's rulers to drink that poison. Already, opposition firebrand Hassan al-Turabi is hinting the government should be removed.

HASSAN AL-TURABI, POPULAR CONGRESS PARTY: We want all political movements together, to associate together and organize an uprising. We did it before, against the military, 1964, 1985. And ultimately, the army looked around then joined the people. They won't kill their own citizens like that.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The referendum is an important but not the final step toward separation. Agreement still needs to be worked out on borders, division of oil revenues, citizenship, and the status of the oil- rich and ethnically diverse Abyei state. It could yet be a messy divorce. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Khartoum.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, we've been North and South, and we're going to talk about those oil revenues that Ben mentioned in just a moment. First, let's bring in "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof, our big thinker on this story tonight.

I want to step back just for a moment, Nick, and get you to explain just how we got to where we are today.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think we got here, in a sense, because of, really, a rare case of extraordinary international engagement that made a tremendous difference. The crisis between North and South Sudan seemed like one of those really irreconcilable problems.

And then, the George W. Bush administration, and -- my readers know I was no fan of President Bush, but boy, in this case, I think this was one of his greatest achievements, that he really did apply a great deal of diplomatic leverage to North and South and reached this comprehensive peace agreement in 2005 that laid the groundwork for this referendum.

And I think that there is reason to believe that maybe the North signed on at that point under pressure thinking that it could weasel its way out before the referendum was held. But there has been, especially in the last few months, a lot of strong engagement by the international community to hold that agreement and make sure that referendum held. And the North seems to be abiding with it so far.

And China has also changed its position and really seems to be, again, putting pressure on the North to make sure that the referendum does go ahead. Of course, it cares about the oil that is going to be coming out and, to a great degree, goes off to China.

ANDERSON: Yes, and we'll promise our viewers that we will discuss that shortly. I just want to get our viewers a sense of what President Obama said about Sudan earlier today, and I quote, "The United States will continue to play a leadership role in helping all the Sudanese people realize the peace and progress they deserve.

"Today, I am repeating my offer to Sudan's leaders. If you fulfill your obligations and choose peace, there is a path to normal relations with the United States, including the listing of economic sanctions and beginning the process in accordance with United States law of removing Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.

"In contrast, those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation." The significance of those words, Nick?

KRISTOF: Well, the basic problem in policy towards Sudan has been what kind of carrots and sticks can you offer. What kind of new sticks can you have for a president who is already facing indictment by the international criminal court? And what kinds of carrots can you credibly offer such a person?

So, President Obama has been walking along this line where he is suggesting that, if the North does allow the referendum to unfold and also if Darfur is -- if there are steps toward peace there, then Sudan would be taken off the terrorism list, for example, and that there ultimately would be normalization of relations between Sudan and the US, which is, maybe, the most important potential carrot that we have to offer. It is something that Sudan really would deeply like to see.

ANDERSON: Lots of "ifs" and "buts," still, but it's got to be said, six months ago there was a lot of pessimism about this referendum. It seems, at least to date, things are going well. Stay with us, Nick. We'll be back with you after a short break.

Coming up, "There's no quick fix for Southern Sudan," the words of one Hollywood actor. But Matt Dillon says there is hope. Our Connector of the Day today on the region's refugee crisis and why he is championing its cause.

And a driver of growth or a thorn in the side of change? We're going to delve into Sudan's oil conundrum. That up next on this special show on Sudan's voting.

TEXT: Sudan Key Figures. Living below poverty line: 90 percent (South), 60-75 percent (North).

Child Malnutrition: 32 percent.

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JIMMY CARTHER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I met with President al-Bashir in the North the day before yesterday before coming here, and he said the entire debt should be assigned to North Sudan and not to the southern part of Sudan. So, in effect, Southern Sudan is starting with a clean sheet on debt. They'll have to make some arrangements for other sources of income, of course.

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ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching a CONNECT THE WORLD special, Sudan Votes. Well, the country's separation is not just a question of statehood. Economic concerns run deep.

First, look at the scale. If Southern Sudan secedes, it will be splitting a country a quarter of the size of the United States in two. And that won't be the last of it. The future of the oil-rich Abyei area will be decided in a second referendum. The people in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile areas will have a popular consultation on their future.

Oil makes a complicated situation even more unwieldy. The brown areas of this map mark Sudan's main oil production sites. Almost 80 percent of Sudan's oil is concentrated in the South, but the pipelines that transport it run through the north.

Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa's third-biggest producer of crude, and as yet there is no clear agreement on how a divided nation may divide the revenue.

Well, there are several ways this could play out if Sudan is to avoid what's known as the resource curse. I want to bring back Nick Kristof from "The New York Times" in New York for you this evening. In the South of Sudan, we're joined by David McKenzie again. And joining me now from Khartoum is CNN's Nima Elbagir, herself a Sudanese citizen.

And perhaps we should start with you, Nima. We've been talking about the fact that much of the oil is produced in the South. Of course, though, transported through the North. How big a deal is this for the North at this point?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's 75 percent of Sudan's proven oil resources are about to go when the South, as all indicators point to, does eventually secede. But really, it's also about the hold that this government has on power. Commodity prices here have doubled overnight in anticipation of the south's secession. And --

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ELBAGIR: Will drain away with that. And --

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ELBAGIR: Here were the last time the commodities prices and the prices of staples jumped up overnight two years ago, there were mass demonstrations. And as we can stand that the ruling party is dealing with --

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ELBAGIR: The moment, they're already seen as being very, very vulnerable. They've come under a lot of flack, even in pro-government papers, for allowing this secession -- for allowing the referendum to go ahead.

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ANDERSON: I think we've just lost the line to Nima Elbagir --

ELBAGIR: If not suffering economic hardships --

ANDERSON: Oh, I think she's still there, OK.

ELBAGIR: So their theory is that people will take to the streets in emotion and frustration here, Becky.

ANDERSON: Good. All right, Nima, we thank you for that. Got you through the technical difficulties, and the report out of the North for you.

Nick, we've got to remember that the Sudanese may own the oil fields, but the fields are actually operated by companies from the East, not necessarily Western companies. What is their role in all of this?

KRISTOF: Well, China has played the central role in developing the oil there, and partly that is because of sanctions by Western companies that pushed out Western oil companies, and China tended to take up the slack.

In the past, I'd say China played a quite unhelpful role and tended to support Khartoum, whatever. But in the last, oh, six months or so, I'd say China has increasingly played a more constructive role, and that's because it doesn't want a war. Because a war would disrupt all that oil and would mean that it doesn't flow.

And so, China has clearly been shifting its allegiances and trying to build a new relationship with South Sudan in expectation that independence and secession are coming.

ANDERSON: It's the all-important question, David. A curse or a cure for the South?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think it's a cure in some ways, and that's often not the case in Africa. The bold analysis by some people is that the oil could provide, really, what is holding this all together, allowing them to, in fact, split.

Because the oil, as you said, comes from the South, but it's piped up to the North. What is most at stake for these two governments, in some way, is money. The development money that could come to the South will come through the oil. The 90 percent of their budget comes from oil.

Right now, from the North, they have to play nice to make sure that oil keeps coming through to them in the coming years. There's no chance that the South could get that oil to markets in even the short-to-medium term.

They can't just instantly have a pipeline through Kenya. There's no infrastructure, no roads here, almost nothing, Becky, in terms of getting commodity out to market. So, if they can cooperate and avoid war through the secession, the oil might be a positive force, which isn't all that usual in Africa.

ANDERSON: And there we leave you three this evening. David McKenzie in the South, Nick Kristof for you tonight out of New York, and Nima Elbagir, we thank you very much, indeed, out of the North of Sudan this evening. Thank you for listening to our special program.

Up next, hundreds of thousands of displaced people and one more famous face. Our Connector of the Day today is testing the power of celebrity in his quest to bring hope to Sudan's refugees. I'll be talking to Hollywood actor Matt Dillon up next.

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ANDERSON: This is a CONNECT THE WORLD special, Sudan Votes. Well, the extreme poverty and violence that has shaped Sudan's recent past has prompted some celebrity support. On this program, we found out why George Clooney believes Sudan's future is worth fighting for. And he's not alone.

Our Connector of the Day today is Hollywood actor Matt Dillon. He made his name in movies such as "There's Something About Mary" and "Crash." And now, he's thrown his weight behind Sudan's refugee crisis. He's working with aid groups, Refugees International, and joined me earlier with the group's head, Michel Gabaudan. I asked him why he believes this referendum is so important.

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MATT DILLON, ACTOR: Our biggest concern is, what's in place for the people who will be returning? Many of them will be returning after 10 years -- 10, 20 years living in the North, and now, they're going to be returning to their homelands. What services will be in place for them? And what we're concerned about, what plans are being made to meet the needs of these people?

ANDERSON: Yes. Michel, is the country ready to be run as the world's newest nation?

MICHEL GABAUDAN, PRESIDENT, REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL: Well, the country will face tremendous challenges because it's extremely poor, it has some of the worst indicators in terms of child and maternal mortality. And there are very few -- there are no roads in the country, there are very few services available. So, it has to be built, basically, from scratch.

I think there is tremendous goodwill from the part of the Southern Sudanese government, if they come to rule the South. But they will need very sustained support. I think what we have to look at is the referendum as being the culmination of a peace process that was initiated five years ago and that concluded a civil war for over 20 years.

But it's just the beginning of the future, and South Sudan will need very prolonged and sustained attention from the international community if it has to make it.

ANDERSON: Yes, there's no doubt about that. Nate O'Brien has written to us, Matt. He says, "How did you initially become involved with your work in Sudan, and why?"

DILLON: Well, initially -- I should start off by saying I've been working with Refugees International for some time. It's a terrific organization. And I had a friend of mine who was working on the ground in humanitarian relief who encouraged me to come there. And I wanted to visit there.

And so, I started to follow the situation there, and I certainly feel that this is a country that is worthy of getting the international support it needs in building its country.

I was there. I brought a camera there, I interviewed people, I -- for example, I met people who were really afraid to return because they were afraid that there wasn't going to be security. These are people that are struggling to get fresh water, to get clean water potable water.

And it's there. It's under the ground. There's just not enough water points. And this is a concern because this country -- people are returning, now. They are returning. And what is going to be there for them?

I think the rebuilding process after -- I mean, we do believe that the South will probably break away, and that's when -- it's after that that the work begins.

ANDERSON: Sure. Sean Ray has written to us. He asks, "What was the most difficult moment you experienced during your work in Sudan?"

DILLON: Well, in general, there were so many difficult moments. And I think the hardest thing is to see what these people are going through. I remember speaking to a woman who had ten children, she was afraid of returning.

I spoke to the principal of the school, who talked about security, insecurity on the roads for children coming to and from school. Children who are in danger of being abducted and never returned to their families.

It's due to tribal conflict in the region. And this is really upsetting, because this is something that -- these are problems that don't really seem insurmountable to me. Having a good, strong security force on the ground in South Sudan to protect the civilian population is something that I really believe is absolutely necessary.

ANDERSON: Kimberly Anne has also written to us. She says, "There is a certain amount of eye-rolling when people read about celebrities taking up a pet cause in a foreign country." She says, "What do you say to those people about your work that you're doing in Sudan?"

DILLON: Well, I don't do it for the glory. I really don't. If I can use my celebrity, so to speak, to draw -- to draw attention to a certain situation, then I'm going to do it. I think -- if you look at what George Clooney's done, it's incredible what he's done and what Angelina Jolie.

People can roll their eyes if they want, but if we can make a difference, then there's no reason that we shouldn't be doing that.

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ANDERSON: In a matter of weeks, Africa's youngest nation may just be born. Well, as we've outlined tonight, much, though, could go wrong. But there is, as Matt Dillon told us, room for hope.

One reason, the Sentinel Project. It's the brainchild of George Clooney and anti-genocide activist John Prendergast. Now, the project aims to track any possible signs of conflict on the ground in Sudan using satellites. The findings will be posted online using Google Maps in the hope that any outbreaks of violence may be stopped in time.

A new nation will almost certainly require a new name. Southern Sudan may not keep that title if it secures independence. One option being considered is New Sudan. But that may rile the North, now old by default. Equatoria has also been mooted, as well as The Nile Republic, both inspired by the region's geography.

And, perhaps, most original of all, Juwama, a name made up of the first two letters of the region's largest cities, Juba, Wau, and Malakal.

That's where we're going to have to leave it for this evening. Thank you for joining us for a special half hour on CONNECT THE WORLD, Sudan Votes. I'm Becky Anderson. Do stay with CNN as this story unfolds, of course, in the coming days.

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