The conflict in Sudan has many faces, the best known are a ‘North-South’ conflict, ‘that problem in Darfur’ or an ‘Arab-African’ conflict. The reality is that Sudan is deeply complex with many isolated but often overlapping conflicts that blur common perceptions.
The fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was reached in 2005, in one way or another, affects almost every state in the North and South of Sudan. Beneath that numerous tribal differences that continue to be politicised, and bitter oil related conflicts, exacerbate problems further. Such complexities make it almost impossible for outsiders to fully understand, once again highlighting just how indispensable local peacebuilders are. There are fears that the conflicts in Sudan have the potential to trigger a regional war, drawing in neighbouring countries.
Since the referendum
As the question of South Sudan’s (in)dependence is one of the major disputes dividing North and South, a Referendum, conducted in response to the 2005 Naivasha Agreement (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) between the NCP and SPLM, was held on the 9th January 2011 to decide whether South Sudan should remain part of Sudan or become autonomous. A similar referendum was to be held in Abyei to decide whether it joined the North or South, but was postponed due to complications.
Significant problems predicted before the Referendum have since surfaced. Darfur has reemerged as conflict region, with a sharp rise in violent clashes being reported. New splinter rebel groups have taken shape and are contesting fresh demands in the South and East. The fate of the oil rich border states are still undecided, with the possibility of renewed violence. Thousands of refugees have fled conflict areas. And logistics over citizenship and the splitting of the national debt have yet to be worked out. These problems threaten to derail the entire process.
Yet steps are being taken towards resolving these issues facing the creation of the world’s newest nation. Peace talks over a planned referendum in Darfur are under way, ex-combatant reintegration is taking a foothold and South Sudan’s draft constitution has successfully been completed. It has yet to be seen in how long and with how much difficulty the secession is to be instated.