Sudan: Free At Last

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February 10, 2011: Official election results are in and southern Sudanese voted overwhelmingly (97-98 percent) for independence. This was a Saddam Hussein type result, but according to election observers, quite legit. July 9 is the next big date, when Southern Sudan becomes independent. UN mediators confirmed that the north and south have reached an agreement on oil royalty sharing. That is important. However, stipulations regarding mutual security are still being negotiated. Both sides claim they are for an open border arrangement (there are a lot of nomads) and also a non-interference agreement (ie, no meddling in the other nation's internal affairs).

Now Southern Sudan faces a raft of challenges. Southern Sudan is populated by people who first and foremost identify with their tribes. Southerners have demonstrated they don't want to be part of a Sudan run by northerners (who tend to be Arabized and Muslims), but are they ready to get along with other southerners? During the long north-south civil war, numerous southern tribes squared off against one another. Dinka fought with Nuer. In fact, one of the most important steps in the peacemaking process that eventually produced the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)was an initiative led by Kenyan Christians to end the Dinka-Nuer violence in southern Sudan. South Sudanese government leaders contend that the long war, the interminable post-CPA wrangling, and the independence vote have already helped forge a common southern Sudanese identity. That is likely more a hope than a reality.

February 9, 2011: A member of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) and his bodyguard were murdered in his office in the southern capital of Juba. A government spokesman reported that the murderer's motive (he was a former employee) was personal, not political.

February 8, 2011: UN peacekeeping forces in southern Sudan occupied positions Upper Nile State, where southern and northern Sudanese security forces had battled earlier in the month. The UN troops arrived in armored personnel carriers (APCs). Several APCs were reportedly deployed in the airport at Malakal (Upper Nile's capital). About 54 soldiers (north and south) were killed in the fighting in Upper Nile, and 85 more were wounded.

February 7, 2011: Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir said the north would accept the results of the southern independence referendum – except Bashir still calls it secession. Bashir said the north desired good relations with the south. He said the north would provide aid to the south. Bashir remains under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

February 6, 2011: The clashes between southern and northern security personnel continued in Upper Nile state. The fighting began in Upper Nile's capital, Makalal, on February 3. It then spread to several towns and villages, including Paloich and Melut. The battle in Makalal got very heavy, as troops employed tanks. The cause was southerners who had refused to head north with northern units in which they were serving. Other commentators speculated that one of the fights began because southern soldiers wanted to retain their arms. Malakal is one of the places where the north and south deployed a joint security force (ie, a unit with both southern and northern soldiers). In a firefight at Malut on February 5, 19 people were reported killed and 19 wounded.

February 5, 2011: Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir said that the northerners will create an Islamic state after the south becomes a separate nation.

 

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