Sudan: Southern Discomforts


July 2, 2009:  The national government has again delayed the national elections, this time by two more months. The vote was originally supposed to be this month, but has now been set for April, 2010. This vote was a crucial part of the 2005 peace agreement with the rebels in south Sudan (which allows them to vote for secession.) GOSS and the national government still disagree over the results of the recent census.

June 29, 2009: Crime continues to be a major problem for aid groups in Darfur. In two separate incidents today, armed men stopped and stole vehicles from aid workers in west Darfur.

June 28, 2009: The national government and the Government of South Sudan are both investigating the June 12 violence when Jikany Nuer tribe attacked a river convoy bringing food to the Lou Nuer tribe in Upper Nile State. The convoy was carrying food provided by the World Food Program. The Jikany claimed several of the boats were carrying weapons and ammo to the Lou and that the convoy attack was a reprisal for a Lou attack on May 98 that killed around 70 people in the town of Torkech. At the moment the Jikany versus Lou conflict appears to have nothing to do with north-south politics and everything to do with Africa's oldest political affliction, inter-tribal (inter-ethnic) violence. That noted, the national government has for years armed "border tribes" (almost always Arabized and Moslem tribes) and used them to harass and attack the south. Right after the attack on the river convoy, a GOSS spokesman accused the national government of inciting the violence. Apparently that wasn't the case. Still, the GOSS claims that it has evidence that "outside forces" (ie, the national government) have armed some ethnic groups in the south. Obviously, the Jikany versus Nuer struggle has shaken the GOSS, which has seen a rise in ethnic fighting. One of the more successful programs that helped end the north-south civil war (or at least temporarily end it) was advanced by church groups operating in southern Sudan. The Anglican Church of Kenya, for example, sponsored a program designed to end inter-tribal conflicts in the south and form "islands of peace" that could eventually expand. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), which essentially became the GOSS, supported the program, though sometimes at a distance. SPLA leaders like John Garang knew the SPLA benefited because lowering and eliminating tribal strife in the areas they controlled helped solidify the SPLA's political position. The June 12 ambush and firefight was particularly vicious -- and the GOSS has reason to worry.

June 24, 2009: The national government convicted four men for the murder of USAID official John Granville. The four murderers have been sentenced to hang. Granville was slain in January 2008. After the sentencing a group identifying itself as "Al Qaeda In The Land Between the Two Niles" (ie, Al Qaeda in Sudan, which has the White and Blue Niles) threatened to murder more Americans in Sudan.

National government and GOSS leaders met to discuss ethnic (tribal) battles that have increased in number and ferocity since the beginning of 2009.

June 22, 2009: International observers in south Sudan are insisting that the national government and the GOSS continue to implement provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA ended a 22-year long civil war. However, ethnic violence (along the north-south border), disagreements over the national census, and conflict over oil revenues has slowed implementation of the CPA. The CPA stipulated that for an interim period Sudan would be governed by a coalition government which would implement the CPA. Unfortunately, the north and south aren't working together very well and the CPA is behind schedule. In 2011 the south is supposed to hold a referendum on independence, and the date for that referendum is rapidly approaching.

June 21, 2009: Several NGOs have asked the US government to provide a detailed "Darfur policy" and plan for achieving peace in the region.

June 19, 2009: Negotiations between several Darfur rebel groups (including the Justice and Equality Movement, JEM) and the national government have been "adjourned without agreement." The talks were part of the Qatar government's diplomatic initiative to resolve the war in Darfur. The UN and the United States had encouraged the talks.

June 16, 2009: A UN investigator reported that the Sudanese (national) military continues to launch ground and air attacks on civilians in Darfur. The report claimed that during the heavy fighting in South Darfur state which took place in January 2009 the government conducted "indiscriminate" aerial bomb raids on civilian areas.




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