News / Africa

What’s Next for Sudan?

Women line up for food distribution in a makeshift camp for internally displaced people in the village of Mayen Abun, southern Sudan, May 26, 2011
Women line up for food distribution in a makeshift camp for internally displaced people in the village of Mayen Abun, southern Sudan, May 26, 2011
Joe DeCapua

With Sudan set to split into two countries on July 9, experts and advocates are asking what’s next for north and south Sudan.

In a briefing Thursday sponsored by Humanity United and Crisis Action, a group of them raised concerns about the volatile situations in Abyei and Southern Kordofan State and the ongoing conflict in Darfur in western Sudan.

Human rights violations

Jehanne Henry, chief researcher on Sudan for Human Rights Watch, expressed concern for civilians in Southern Kordofan State.

“One of the main calls that we’ve been making, and so has the…[U.N.] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,” she said, “is for an independent human rights investigation to take place immediately before UNMIS leaves on the 9th.”

UNMIS is the U.N. force in Sudan.

“It looks as though we’re facing a situation after the 9th [of July] where that investigation will be even harder to come by. Whether it’s conducted by the United Nations or the African Union or some other body, just to get basic information out and to try to open up more humanitarian access,” she said.

Human Rights Watch and other groups say the Khartoum government is refusing access to humanitarian agencies.

Abyei

Fighting in the oil-rich Abyei region erupted in May. Just how oil revenues will be divided remains unclear because an agreement on the matter between north and south has yet to be reached. But the two sides have agreed to try  to keep the peace there after northern Sudanese forces withdraw.

“The parties did broker an agreement, which does include an external force, which is the Ethiopian peacekeeping troops,” said Henry. “It remains to be seen how the Sudanese government will abide by this.”

Darfur

While the south is poised to gain independence, in western Sudan the Darfur conflict remains unresolved.

Displaced woman and her child in Darfur.
Displaced woman and her child in Darfur.

“Darfur is basically off the news now and it’s fast becoming forgotten. But we do see that on the ground the situation has deteriorated. It has not improved, mainly because the government and rebel forces have resumed fighting in the last six months,” said Henry.

Major clashes have been reported recently in the Jebal Marra area in North Darfur State.

“So that conflict continues to roil in the background, sometimes with very large numbers of casualties reported,” said Henry.

Only the beginning

While independence marks the end of a long struggle for southern Sudan, it is by no means an end to the many problems it faces. This includes internal fighting between the SPLA and southern armed groups and ethnic tensions.

“But I want to say that it is a solvable puzzle. The differences are actually small. They are bridgeable. War is not inevitable. So this is something that we feel the international community can play a pretty large role in the success of this new independent country,” said Gerald Martone, director of humanitarian affairs at the International Rescue Committee.

Issues with northern Sudan, however, are more daunting.

“Our biggest concerns, of course, are the north and the south, their continued unresolved issues between these countries. They are in fact mutually dependent on each other. Neither one can survive without the other. And that’s largely because of oil revenues,” he said.

A worst case scenario, he said, would be a return to war. The conflict that ended with the 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement lasted more than 20 years and claimed millions of lives.

Uniting against a common enemy is one thing, remaining united in peace quite another.

“The many factions within south Sudan were united against the universal rival to the north,” he said.“But now that rival is gone and we really fear that the country needs to come together, that rather than being united against something they must be united for something. The Government of South Sudan is no longer a liberation movement. It is a national government.”

The challenge, he said, for the southern government is not to become what it rebelled against – an “over centralized government…autocratic, authoritarian regime.”

Military response

Southern military response has been somewhat restrained in Abyei and Southern Kordofan State. But Jon Temin, director of the Sudan program at the U.S. Institute of Peace, questions whether that will change.

“The southern leadership has really done well in getting to July 9th and in sending the message that our top priority is to get to July 9th and to get to independence,” he said, “and that has meant that they’ve held off from getting engaged in some of the violence that we’ve seen around the border.”

A huge explosion is seen near a United Nations compound in South Kordofan state, June 14, 2011
A huge explosion is seen near a United Nations compound in South Kordofan state, June 14, 2011

But Temin added, “It is possible that one of their early acts as a fully sovereign country will be to get more militarily engaged in some of the violence around the border and so that’s something to watch.”

Non-military issues before the new government include writing a new constitution, reported high levels of corruption and problems with a national army.

“What’s particularly important here is that the international community send a clear message to the southern leadership really from day one that they’re going to be held to the same standards as just about anybody else in the world. And that there aren’t going to be any free passes. There aren’t going to be any blank checks,” he said.

The north

Temin said “hardliners” are in control of the Khartoum government as the south gains independence.

“What they are probably trying to do is to send a very clear message to the north that they are in control and that there is not the possibility of any other sort of follow-on secession efforts. But there is the question, and I don’t know the answer, about whether they are trying to push the border any further south. Whether they are trying to gain more control over some of the oil fields that are right along the border, but on the southern side.”

Northern Sudan may feel the loss of the south mostly in economic terms.

“The economic impact of southern secession in the north cannot be underestimated. And it’s a real point of weakness and concern for the Khartoum leadership. Just a couple of weeks ago the northern finance minister estimated that they’ll lose something like 37 percent of their revenue when the south secedes, because of the oil losses,” he said.

However, Temin said that estimate could be too low.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid