The secession of the south of Sudan has not brought comprehensive peace, with Kordofan and Blue Nile pointing to further fragmentation to follow, writes Asmaa El-Husseini
It appears that contrary to what some thought and proclaimed, Sudan’s troubles did not end after the south separated and became an independent state on 9 July. After the original south seceded from the state of Sudan in the north, a new south — namely the two states of Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as the region of Darfur — became embroiled in problems. Officials in both states, north and south, are unsure about what to do after tensions flared up in South Kordofan before the independence of South Sudan. The situation is precarious in Blue Nile, and the unresolved problems in Darfur threaten to escalate as they enter their ninth year.
Officials in the north are perplexed because it may be difficult to deal with all these problems at once in the crescent-shaped region between south-eastern and south-western North Sudan. If conditions worsen there, they could mesh with other dire problems in the east, for example. Khartoum needs to accept the solutions suggested by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) wing in North Sudan, which was part of the original movement ruling South Sudan — regarding the two states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It must also consider the demands of other Darfur rebel movements that were left out of the recent Doha Accord signed by only one faction, namely Liberation and Justice.
If it were to do this, Khartoum believes it would be repeating the scenario that occurred in South Sudan and resulted in its secession. Recognising the SPLM’s north branch as a partner in government would also be a repeat of what happened during six years of power sharing during interim rule with the original SPLM. Perhaps this is why Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and many members of the regime and loyalists firmly rejected the Addis Ababa agreement signed between Nafie Ali Nafie, the president’s assistant, and described it as “Nifasha 2″. In the end, it was abandoned because it required security and political arrangements in the regions of the Nubia Mountains and Blue Nile that were granted the special status of “popular counsel”, according to the peace agreement.
Khartoum and relevant powers in the two states still do not see eye-to-eye, which has compounded the problem. The late SPLM leader John Garang had given these states this right after reaching a peace accord for the south, in recognition for the role of his soldiers who come from these two regions. But Khartoum believes this has complicated matters further for the north even after the departure of South Sudan, and incited many Nubia Mountain natives to demand self-determination as the south had done through massive marches in several Western countries.
The new country in the south is also in a dilemma about what to do; whether to help former allies and the fighters in Kordofan and Blue Nile who represented a main part of the SPLM or protect their nascent state and steer their ship to safe waters. In all cases, they are holding these three regions as pressure tools against North Sudan, which they do not trust and accuse of sponsoring, arming and funding rebel militias in the south.
In 2001, the Nubia Mountains was the first target region for peace by US envoy John Danforth, and a peace deal was signed in Switzerland that paved the way for a comprehensive peace accord for all of Sudan. This demonstrates the importance of this region and its key role in influencing North Sudan and South Sudan relations. Today, possible tensions in South Kordofan could result in catastrophe for North and South Sudan that have now become two states in an arms race. Despite overall mutual good sentiments between the people in each country, the two capitals view the other as an archenemy.
The recent battles in South Kordofan on the eve of South Sudan’s independence and violent escalations in the disputed border region of Abyei have resulted in hostile positions between North and South Sudan. This has also affected ongoing negotiations between the two sides regarding many pending issues, most importantly demarcation of borders, Abyei, citizen issues, and economic matters especially regarding oil — of which 80 per cent is produced in the south and imported through Port Sudan in North Sudan. Meanwhile, battles continue in South Kordofan after elections in the state ushered in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP)’s candidate Ahmed Haroun as governor, after defeating the SPLM’s Abdel-Aziz Adam Al-Helw.
The SPLM rejected the results, which triggered violence once the government army decided to bring the state under control where joint SPLM and government troops were deployed. Al-Helw and his army rebelled and later coordinated with movements in Darfur, which indicates that the conflict will spread over a wider area. They accused government forces and Khartoum of ethnic cleansing in the state, and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice supported their request for an investigation into the matter.
The leadership of the SPLM in the north met recently, although its party has not yet been recognised by Khartoum, including Malek Aqar, Yasser Orman, and Abdel-Aziz Al-Helw from South Kordofan. They said they would grant the government one month to change the centre of power, provide security arrangements for their army, and recognise their party in the north.
In Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement rejected the recent Doha Accord, as did the Movement for the Liberation of Sudan led by Abdel-Wahed Mohamed Nour and Mini Arco Minawi. These movements are seeking to coordinate their positions on the one hand, and synchronise with the SPLM in the north on the other. At the same time, they are trying to maintain previous alliances with the SPLM in the south and Uganda, which has become a key host for the leaders of these movements. Meanwhile, tensions continue to escalate in Darfur to prove the failings of the Doha agreement, which they say the government signed with a movement that has no military presence in Darfur, while ignoring the real movements in the region.
Conditions in Sudan remain precarious, and peace has not been achieved even after the south seceded. Sudan’s troubles require more comprehensive solutions than the partial resolutions being proposed for each individual problem, which only results in more complications and troubles that now threaten what remains of North Sudan with more dangers and divisions if it does not propose innovative new ideas.
Source Website: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/. Courtesy of AfricaFiles.