Sudan: Drifting Apart

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May 2, 2010: The government has moved more troops to the border with southern Sudan, and refuses to explain why this is being done.

No surprise, Omar al-Bashir was reelected president in voting that took place from April 11 through April 15. Sudan's national election commission reported Bashir won 62 percent of the vote. Despite charges of fraud (in both north and south Sudan), despite many problems at polling places, despite the fact Bashir's two chief challengers withdrew from the election, despite the deaths of almost 60 people in election-related violence in south Sudan, Bashir was elected president in Sudan's first multi-party vote in 24 years (the last was held in 1986). These are significant despites, and several international observers and NGOs noted the election troubles and also noted Bashir remains under indictment for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Most international election monitors withdrew from the Darfur region, saying the area was too insecure for holding an election. Meanwhile, south Sudan looks increasingly like South Sudan, which it could become in 2011 if the people of South Sudan vote for independence. Salva Kirr's Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) kept political control in the south and will likely renew its coalition partnership deal with Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) to form a governing coalition in Khartoum. But the cry in the south is, “Wait 'til next year” and that is the worry in the north. While Kiir claims he is pro-national unity, a lot of southerners want to have nothing to do with the north. Several international analysts believe Kiir really supports southern independence (which the north calls secession). Kirr is a member of the Dinka tribe, and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), the guerrilla force that has evolved into the SPLM, is primarily a Dinka-led organization. Kiir is also a Catholic. The north is predominantly Moslem. Black Africans in south Sudan (again, South Sudan is more appropriate) tend to be Christians or animists.

April 30, 2010: Several senior members of Sudan's UMMA party said they will not recognize the validity of President Omar al-Bashir's re-election. The UMMA members have concluded there was simply too much fraud in the election. Several UMMA candidates decided the boycott the election.

The UN Security Council voted to extend the mandate for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) for another year. UNMIS is the peacekeeping force in southern Sudan. It deploys around 10,000 troops and is tasked with monitoring the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This is a good move on the UN's part. With the increasing likelihood of a southern vote for independence, UNMIS could quickly become a buffer peacekeeping force.

April 26, 2010: A Darfur rebel faction, the Peoples Democratic Struggle Movement (DPSM), reported that it had released four South African peacekeepers its fighters had taken captive. UNAMID (UN and African Union peacekeeping contingent in Darfur) had reported the South African policemen were kidnapped on April 11.

April 25, 2010: The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) reported soldiers in the SPLA killed 58 people and wounded 85 in a series of firefights along South Sudan's border with the southern part of the Darfur region (specifically, wesern Bahr al-Ghazal state). The SPLA soldiers fought with members of the Rezeigat tribe. One SPLA officer claimed the force was a tribal militia supported by northern (national) Sudanese forces.

April 23, 2010: Two members of a group supporting South Sudan opposition candidates were killed by police in Unity state. The group was protesting its candidates losses in the national election.

April 21, 2010: Members of the Beja Congress Party (BCP) of East Sudan protested the fairness of the national elections. The BCP is a splinter faction of the National Congress Party which has a power base in Red Sea state and in the Beja tribe of eastern Sudan. The Beja signed a peace deal with the national government in 2006.

April 20, 2010: Former SPLM presidential candidate Yasser Arman (who ultimately boycotted the national elections) accused the NCP of reinforcing Sudanese Army units. Arman also accused the national government and President Omar al-Bashir of rigging results in Blue Nile state and South Kordofan state. These states are key areas politically and economically, and could become battlegrounds if a new north-south war breaks out after the 2011 plebiscite. South Kordofan is an oil-producing region.

April 18, 2010: International election monitors (including monitors from the Carter Center in the US) reported that Sudan's national elections did not meet international standards. This is a political blow for Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir. An EU team said that the election suffered from poor implementation (ie, preparation for the elections).

April 12, 2010: UNAMID reported four South African peacekeepers serving with a police contingent were kidnapped in Darfur on April 11. The four peacekeepers were kidnapped near the town of Nyala (South Darfur state).

April 11, 2010: Voting began in Sudan's national election.

April 7, 2010: The SPLM said its candidates would boycott the elections in 13 of 15 northern Sudanese states. It would run candidates in Blue state and South Kordofan state.

April 4, 2010: The Sudanese National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced that the national vote (scheduled for April 11-13) will be held despite the SPLM's limited boycott. The national elections will be the first country-wide multi-party elections held since 1986. The European Union intends to deploy 130 election observers to Sudan as part of an international election observer mission.

 

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