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Clooney: 'Real excitement' for peace in Sudan

By Phil Han, CNN
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Clooney: 'Real excitement' in Sudan
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • George Clooney expressed real excitement at peace in Sudan
  • Clooney says international community need to keep eyes on country, even after vote
  • Southern Sudanese will vote soon on whether to create the world's newest nation

(CNN) -- As people in Sudan head to the polls in three days to vote on whether Southern Sudan should become an independent country or remain part of Sudan, Hollywood superstar and activist George Clooney has expressed his excitement at the possibility of peace during an interview with CNN.

"For the first time since I've been here, there's a real excitement here that there's a feeling that a new nation is going to be formed," Clooney told CNN's Becky Anderson.

"It's inevitable and I think everyone is very excited about that," said Clooney who has made numerous trips to the country and whose organization will monitor any vote-related violence in Sudan.

The "Up in the Air" star has been involved in Sudan for years, having campaigned actively against violence in Darfur, western Sudan.

He co-founded a group called Not On Our Watch with actors Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and others. It's devoted to halting atrocities around the world.

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Sudan fought a civil war between north and south that ended in 2005. A referendum on independence for Southern Sudan -- which is scheduled to start Sunday -- was part of the peace deal that ended the war.

Clooney also told Anderson that people around Sudan remained optimistic at the prospect of peace, but that the international community needed to remain vigilant at what happens in the coming months.

"We're all optimistic, I don't think there's many people who thought that the government of South Sudan would be able to put together a coalition of many of their past enemies and to put this together to make it work," Clooney said.

"We need to remember there's about a six month to a year process where this will continue to go on and we're hoping that everyone will keep the cameras on and keep covering it because that's when bad things happen."

At the end of December, Clooney also launched a satellite surveillance project in the country to help monitor violence during the January vote.

The program will use satellite images to assess the situation on the ground for any signs of conflict, monitor hotspots in real time and post the findings online.

"The idea we had is to be one of many tools to monitor specifically troop movements and humanitarian issues along the border where it's really disputed and where the real danger lies," Clooney said.

"We're just starting to get the first images tonight and that's when we'll try and get actual footage of tanks, or planes or helicopters or troop movements so we can continue to keep people honest about what's going on over there."

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Q&A: What's behind Sudan split vote?
Southern Sudan has been wracked by decades of conflict -- but what pushed it toward this historic vote?
The trek home to vote
Christian Aid highlights the Southern Sudanese returning to Juba and elsewhere ahead of the historic vote.
The road to independence?
Several million people will decide in the next few days whether to give birth to the world's newest nation.
Oil money and culture clash
What the new Sudan will look like and where the oil fields are.
Clooney: Excited for lasting peace
Hollywood superstar and activist George Clooney is excited at the possibility of lasting peace for Sudan, he tells CNN.
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CNN's Nima Elbagir reports on the internally displaced Sudanese returning home to vote.
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Chris Taylor and Gen. Anthony Zinni say the U.S. needs to craft a strong plan to head off potential ethnic violence
 
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