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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Assessment for Southerners in Sudan

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Sudan Facts
Area:    2,505,810 sq. km.
Capital:    Khartoum
Total Population:    28,900,000 (source: unknown, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

A final peace agreement was signed between the government of Sudan and the SPLM/A in 2005. As part of the agreement, John Garang was named a vice-president of Sudan, SPLM/A forces became part of Sudanís national forces with security responsibilities in Southern Sudan, revenues will be divided equally between the central government and Southern Sudan, and Southern Sudan is guaranteed widespread autonomy with the right to vote for secession after a six-year interim period. The peace agreement survived the death of Garang in a plane crash in 2005. If the peace accords continue to be implemented, the Southern Sudanese are unlikely to rebel, despite the continued presence of risk factors such as territorial concentration and group cohesion. However, the likelihood of rebellion given the failure of the government of Sudan to fully implement or respect the terms of the accord is quite high.


Analytic Summary

"Southern Sudanese" is an inclusive name given to the varied peoples who live in the southern area of Sudan (GROUPCON = 3), including Equatorians, Dinkas, Nuers, Anuaks, Shilluks, Latukas, Taposas, Turkans, Moru, Madi and Azande. Black Africans who are primarily animist or Christian, they have resisted attempts by various regimes in Khartoum to Arabize and Islamicize the South (LANG = 1; CUSTOM = 1; BELIEF = 2; RACE = 2). The countryís history has been marked primarily by protracted civil wars. The 1972 Addis Ababa accord, which guaranteed the South substantial regional autonomy and settled a 17-year separatist struggle begun in 1956, was annulled when the Muslim northern government instituted Shari`a, or Islamic law, throughout Sudan in September 1983. The Southerners in turn resumed their armed campaign against the government, leading the country into another cycle of deadly conflicts (REB85-REB03 = 7). Then in 2004, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed three protocols critical to ending the 21-year civil war. On January 9, 2005, Sudan's civil war, which has claimed the lives of more than 2 million people, was officially declared over as the Government of Sudan and Southern rebels agreed to a final peace settlement. Ali Osman Taha, Sudanese Vice President, and John Garang, chair of the SPLM/A signed a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that will divide Sudan's vast oil wealth equally between the North and South, and allow the South to vote on independence in 2011, which, given the current sentiment, it is likely to do.

Represented primarily by the Sudan Peopleís Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) (GOJPA06 = 4), headed by John Garang, Southerners had pressed the government of Sudan (GoS) for a reinstatement of autonomy with widespread powers and a loosely governed bi-regional federal government. Since the 2005 signing of the CPA,, Southern Sudan has received a significant degree of regional autonomy (AUTON2 = 1). Still, Southerners continue to voice preferences for outright independence, although such an outcome is not favored by the international community (POLGR06 = 4). Southern Sudan contains much of the natural resources of Sudan as a whole, one reason it is targeted by Khartoum. International observers fear that if Southern Sudan secedes, Northern Sudan will be hard-pressed economically and that violence will re-erupt.

Riek Machar, who headed a breakaway faction of the SPLM called the Sudan Peopleís Democratic Front/Defense Forces (SPDF), signed a peace agreement with the GoS in 1996 and became head of the United Democratic Salvation Front (USDF) and Southern Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF). The split between Garang and Machar was both a personal power struggle and an indication of ethnic tension between Southerners. Garang is Dinka, and Machar is Nuer. However, Machar reportedly defected from Khartoum in 1999 and resumed rebellion in the South with the remnants of his SPDF. The SPLM/A, under Garang, has made strategic alliances with other political opposition groups, including the Nuba, who like the Southern Sudanese are black Africans, and Northern, Arab political parties.

In 2002, a ceasefire was reached between the government of Sudan and the SPLA. A formal peace agreement was initiated in 2004 after prolonged negotiations sponsored by the African Unionís Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). As part of the final peace agreement (signed in 2005), John Garang was named a vice-president of Sudan, SPLM/A forces became part of Sudanís national forces with security responsibilities in Southern Sudan (POLDIS06 = 1), revenues will be divided equally between the central government and Southern Sudan (ECDIS06 = 1), and Southern Sudan is guaranteed widespread autonomy with the right to vote for secession after a six-year interim period.

Intracommunal warfare among Southern Sudanese has been as problematic as the North-South divide. Both intra-Nuer warfare (between SPLA and SPDF factions) and Nuer-Dinka clashes were common in 1998. However, in 1999, in the U.S.-sponsored Wunlit peace process, an agreement was signed between Dinka and Nuer to cease the fighting. In addition, a new political group, the South Sudan Liberation Movement, was founded early in 2000 with its primary goal the unification of the Dinka Bor, Nuer and Shilluk. No intracommunal (or intercommunal) violence was reported from 2001 to 2003 (INTRACON01-03 = 0; INTERCON01-03 = 0). However, from 2004 to 2006, intra-communal violence again became an issue in Southern Sudan. The SPLM/A was involved in violent conflicts with several ethnic militias and accused of numerous human rights abuses against Southern Sudanese civilians, including rape, killing and forced conscription of young boys (INTRACON04-06 = 1).

Although Southern Sudan is rich in natural resources, the people of Southern Sudan face periodic famine, mainly induced by the civil war. In some regions during 1998 and 1999, drought resulted in even lower agricultural output. By 2000, harvest forecasts had become more favorable, which marginally alleviated famine conditions. Oil companies became active in South Sudan in the late 1990s, with some Southerners accusing them of facilitating the depopulation of strategic oil fields. Control of the oil fields has also been the focus of some intercommunal fighting among Southern Sudanese factions.

Southern Sudanese groups have been supported by Uganda and Ethiopia, which have provided (willingly or not) bases for the SPLA. Uganda, in particular, was linked to Southern Sudan through a series of violent clashes between Southerners Ė both civilians and militias Ė and the Lordís Resistance Army (LRA) of Northern Uganda. The United States and the Government of Kenya have continued to provide political support for the goals of the SPLA. Most of the SPLAís financial support, however, comes from private groups, in particular some Christian groups in South Africa who have been accused of providing weapons to the SPLA.



Africa News. 5/27/2004. "Another Step Towards Lasting Peace"

BBC Monitoring Africa-Political. 7/21/2004. "Tens of Sudanese Reported Killed by Ugandan Rebel Lord's Army."

Burr, Millard. 1993. "Quantifying Genocide in the Southern Sudan 1983-1993." Washington, D.C.: U.S.Committee for Refugees.

Deng, Francis M. 1994. "The Sudan: Stop the Carnage." The Brookings Review Washington D.C.: Brookings Institute.

Human Rights Watch. Various reports. 1993-2006.

Lexis-Nexis. Various news reports. 1990-2006.

Meynell, Charles. 1984. The Sudan. Minority Right Group Report No. 66. London: Murray House.

Suliman, Mohamed. 1993. "Civil War in the Sudan: From Ethnic to Ecological Conflict." The Ecologist. 23:3.

Suliman, Mohamed Suliman. 1992. "Civil War in Sudan: The Impact of Ecological Degradation." Environment and Conflicts Project (ENCOP) Occasional Paper No. 4. Zurich: Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

The Times (London). 1/10/2005. "Sudan Ends War That Killed 2 Million."

Wells, Victor C. and Samuel P. Dilla. 1993. "Colonization, Arabization, Slavery, and War." Fourth World Bulletin. 3:1.


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Information current as of December 31, 2006