Sudan: The Cost Of Freedom

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December 6, 2010: South Sudan accused the national government of withholding money needed to conduct the referendum vote in the south. Egypt, and most other neighbors of Sudan, believe that the south will vote for independence, and that a civil war will be fought as the south attempts to assert its independence.

December 4, 2010: Sudan has agreed to give voters in South Sudan an extra week to register. Voters may register for the January 9, 2011 national referendum up until December 8. Registration, like virtually everything else about the impending referendum, has been controversial. Meanwhile, the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) accused the Sudanese Army (Sudan Armed Forces, the northern army) of trying to foment a border war to disrupt the elections. Trouble continues, particularly around the border oil region of Abyei.

December 3, 2010: The national government and the Sudanese Army claimed that the Sudan Liberation Army- Minnawi faction (SLA-Minnawi, a Darfur rebel faction) was now regarded as an enemy. Specifically, the Sudanese Army said the SLA-Minnawi was now a military target. The SLA-Minnawi had signed a peace agreement with the national government. The army statement said that the SLA-Minnawi had rejoined the rebel resistance in Darfur.

December 2, 2010: The big Wikileaks U.S. State Department information scandal includes cable traffic about Sudan. It turns out Egypt is very worried that Sudan will indeed split into two countries, Sudan and South Sudan. In 2009 Egypt allegedly asked the U.S. to use its influence to postpone the January 2011 independence referendum. Egypt is concerned about the Nile River, as well it should be since the Nile is the heart of Egypt. South Sudan regards Egypt as an ally of the north.

December 1, 2010: Two demonstrators were slain by police in West Darfur. The incident occurred outside a school where a peace mediation team sponsored by the UN and the nation of Qatar were holding a meeting. A government spokesman said that the protestors were supporters of a Darfur rebel faction, likely Sudan Liberation Movement/Army-Abdelwahid Nur.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) urged the Central African Republic (CAR) to arrest Sudan President Omar al-Bashir if and when he visits the CAR. Bashir is under indictment by the ICC for war crimes. Bashir had announced that he would visit the CAR in early December.

November 25, 2010: What would a renewed north-south war cost in dollars? A think tank report sponsored by the UN and U.S. estimated $100 billion and hundreds of thousands of lives over a ten year period. The study used World Bank and International Monetary Fund modeling methods. That is a good ballpark guess in terms of money. The biggest losses would be in oil revenues and destroyed oil production facilities. The $100 billion figure includes losses suffered by Sudan's neighbors. As for a ten year long war, who knows. It could drag on for decades, as the last one did. The big unknown is how many nations will recognize South Sudan as a separate state. Likely its immediate neighbors Kenya and Uganda would. That would mean South Sudan could get a lot more military aid delivered to it directly (as a sovereign state) than the region received in the last war when it was a collection of rebel groups. Kenyan diplomats have been making the rounds in East Africa plugging for peaceful acceptance of the referendum's results whatever they may be. It is not clear how much of an effect the Kenyan diplomacy is having, but the Kenyan strategy includes getting the African Union to back the result.

November 24, 2010: The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA, the army of southern Sudan) said that a northern helicopter opened fire on one of its ground units and wounded four soldiers. Two civilians were also wounded in the incident. The incident occurred in the north-south border area. The north denied that the incident occurred.

The UN may ask the national government for permission to deploy an additional 2000 peacekeeping troops to south Sudan in order to improve security for the January 2011 elections. Currently the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS, the operation in southern Sudan) has 10,000 troops.  The discussion has been unofficial, meaning that the Security Council has not officially considered the proposal. The GOSS made the request several weeks ago, which is one reason the national government objects to the UN deploying the extra peacekeepers. As far as the northerners are concerned, agreeing to the troop increase would make it seem like the south is already a separate country.

November 21, 2010: The GOSS denied charges made by the National Congress Party (NCP, the party which controls the national government in Khartoum) that the GOSS has been telling southerners living in northern Sudan to not register. If this sounds convoluted, it is, but it exemplifies the accusation-denial-accusation routine the national government and the GOSS have been going through for the past five years. According to current reports, registration by southerners living in the north has been much less than expected. There have been media reports that southerners had confronted intimidation by northern police and political groups who do not want them to register. The NCP decided to accuse the GOSS of conspiring to limit the vote by southerners living in the north because they might vote against independence.

 

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