Sudan: Even Well Run Rebels Have Rebels


January 2, 2008: The strained relationship between the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and the national government continues, with oil-rich Abyei as the most obvious hotspot. National elections are scheduled for 2009 and they will be contentious. However, South Sudan, if it were to become a separate country, would be afflicted with the same troubles that afflict the rest of Sudan, whether it's called North Sudan or National Sudan. Tribal tensions and old animosities frustrate the GOSS. Several tribal groups see the GOSS as primarily a Dinka tribal operation. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) was in many respects a Dinka liberation front, but even the Dinkas critics acknowledge the Dinka took up the burden of the fight against the Northern Islamists' depredations in the south. The Dinka decided to fight. Still, a number of Nuer tribes certainly think the GOSS favors the Dinkas – and that is a bad sign for the future. There are more. A recent report out of South Sudan discussed trouble in the town of Nimule (on the Uganda border) between Dinkas and Equatorians. Some Equatorians have charged Dinka tribespeople with "land grabbing" in Equatoria. The trouble in Equatoria reflects another simmering issue – will tribespoeple in South Sudan be able to live anywhere in the country, based on their own free decision to settle and ability to purchase land (or pay rent), or will "tribal areas" be allowed to exclude people who are not members of the "local tribe"?

January 1, 2008: The UN (UNAMID) begins 2009 with 12,242 peacekeeping troops in Sudan. This is roughly 60 percent of the 20,000 soldiers and military staff authorized for the operation. UNAMID is supposed to ultimately have 26,000 peacekeepers (a figure which include military troops, military staff, and police).

December 31, 2008: The national government held a military weapons show in Khartoum that featured tanks and new aircraft as part of its Independence Day ceremonies. The aircraft included SU-25 "Frogfoot" attack planes. The Independence Day celebrations were a show case for national president Omar al-Bashir. He gave a big speech. International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors want to indict Bashir for war crimes. 

The US State Department announced that President George W. Bush will meet with members of the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) to discuss problems implementing the 2005 Comprehensive peace Agreement (CPA).

December 22, 2008: A report from religious NGOs operating in Darfur said that based on its own experience in Darfur that the situation faced by the 250,000 refugees they serve is worse than at any time in the last six years. The NGOs evaluated the situation based on access to clean water, food supplies, and meeting basic healthcare needs.

December 19, 2008: The national government said that it is still ready to conduct peace talks based on Qatar's "joint Arab League-African Union" mediation proposal.

The GOSS filed a legal brief regarding the boundary (ie, border) between north and south Sudan. The GOSS believes the boundary decision by the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) is correct. The north (national government) says the ABC's line is "too far north" (ie, it takes northern territory and gives it to the south). The GOSS filed the brief in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In The Hague, Netherlands. The Permanent Court of Arbitration was created in 1989 to try to resolve international disputes exactly like the one between South Sudan and the national government – and yes, it is interesting that the Abyei question is being treated as an international dispute. One of the issues the ABC faced was a "political transfer" of several Dinka Ngok chiefdoms from one administrative district to another in 1905.

December 18, 2008: The UN reported that the lead elements of an Ethiopian infantry battalion had arrived in West Darfur state to serve with UNAMID. The battalion will ultimately include 519 troops. Ethiopia already has 341 peacekeepers in West Darfur. Ethiopia will also send a reconnaissance troop and a logistical support element.





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