Sudan: Too Many Tribes, Not Enough Cash


May 5, 2009: A month ago the national government touted the validity of the April 2008 census. But that has not convinced the Government of South Sudan (GOSS, which is really the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, SPLA). The new census will guide the national elections set for 2010. However, the crucial vote is the 2011 referendum on southern independence. The referendum was a key element of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Sudan last had a national census in 1993. The North-South civil war accelerated in the mid-1990s and refugees fled the battle zones, an estimated two million people being displaced during the process. Many have returned to the their homes, many have not. Whether in war or peace, one problem Sudan faces is counting its nomads. These nomads are primarily "Arabic" tribes who are pastoralists (usually cattle herders). Nomads are hard to count because, well, they move. They move from state to state and may be counted twice or not counted at all. The national government recruited many of these tribesmen into their "Islamist militias" during the North-South war and they crop up in the janjaweed militias operating out west in Darfur. As a result, the GOSS believes the "Arab" nomads will be over-counted because they are allies of the north (national government). The political battle over the census results has already begun, and the results have not been officially announced.

May 1, 2009: The GOSS reported a new spate of tribal violence in Lakes State, and Warrap State.

April 30, 2009: The UN  extended the United Nations (UNMIS) peacekeeping mission for another year. UNMIS is charged with policing the 2005 CPA. The Security Council urged north and south Sudan to implement the CPA.

April 28, 2009: Five US members of the House of Representatives were arrested while participating in a demonstration in front of the Sudan embassy in Washington, DC. The representatives were protesting the war in Darfur. The congressmen also demanded that the Sudan government let NGO food and medical relief groups return to Darfur.

The national government claimed that groups of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) fighters in west Darfur are actually operating in conjunction with the Chadian Army. The government claimed that several Chadian soldiers had been arrested in West Darfur state and were operating with JEM forces and that a large JEM convoy of 120 trucks was actually under the "supervision" of a Chadian brigadier general. Tit for tat is going on. The national government supports several groups of anti-Chad government rebels (eg, the Union of Forces of the Resistance (UFR), a Chad rebel group).

April 24, 2009: The GOSS continues to struggle with a cash shortage. The GOSS reported that it is running a deficit of one hundred million dollars a month. It blamed declining oil revenue as oil prices drop.

April 21, 2009: The UN estimates that the national government's decision to kick aid groups out of Sudan puts the lives of one million people at risk. The national government expelled 16 aid groups (13 international, three Sudanese).

April 20, 2009: A fire badly damaged the UNAMID peacekeeping headquarters in El Fasher (North Darfur state). No one was reported injured. UNAMID now has 15,500 troops and police deployed throughout the Darfur region.

The GOSS reported that tribal warfare erupted in Jonglei state. Warriors from the Lou Nuer tribe battled with members of the Murle tribe. At least 175 people died in the series of battles. The report said another round of cattle raiding was the likely cause of the battle





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