South Sudan not ready for split
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has warned that Southern Sudan will face instability if it votes to secede from the north in the upcoming referendum.
He told al-Jazeera TV the south did not have the ability to create a stable state or provide for its citizens.
Correspondents say the comments will infuriate the SPLM - former rebels who have ruled the south since the two-decades-long civil war ended in 2005.
Correspondents expect an overwhelming "yes" vote in the referendum, which would see the world's newest country come into being.
The poll, which begins today, was part of the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the civil war.
In an interview with the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera, Mr Bashir said he understood why many southerners wanted independence, but he expressed concern at how the new nation would cope.
"The south suffers from many problems," he said.
"It's been at war since 1959. The south does not have the ability to provide for its citizens or create a state or authority."
Mr Bashir said southerners living in the north would not be allowed dual citizenship, and floated the idea of the two nations joining in an EU-style bloc.
He also raised the issue of Abyei, an oil-rich region with disputed borders.
He warned that if southerners seized the region for themselves, it could lead to war.
Analysts say Mr Bashir is under intense pressure from northern politicians, who fear that secession of the south may lead to a further splintering of the country.