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Growing Discontent in Southern Kordofan State

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1. SUDAN: Growing discontent in Southern Kordofan

KADUGLI, 13 January 2009 (IRIN) – Squabbles between parties to Sudan’s
North-South peace agreement, rival community interests and the slow
pace of development could destabilise Southern Kordofan State,
analysts warned.

“Southern Kordofan is in a state of political turmoil,” Sara
Pantuliano, research fellow with the Humanitarian Policy Group, said.

“Signs of insecurity are widespread in the western area where
grievances about lack of access to services and employment and the
blockage of pastoralist movement towards the South have led a number
of Misseriya youth to resort to armed violence.”

The state lies between North and South Sudan and is mainly occupied
by the Nuba, various central highland communities and pastoralist
Baggara Arabs comprising the Misseriya and Hawazma.

“I don’t think all is well but the tensions and flares of violence
will not necessarily lead to a return to war,” said Nanne op ‘t Ende,
author of and Proud to be Nuba (2008).

“Dozens, hundreds may still get killed – that will probably continue
to be acceptable, as it has been for the past three years,” he told
IRIN. “Neither the Nuba nor Arab populations are united.

“You cannot understand Southern Kordofan when you equate NCP [the
ruling National Congress Party] with Baggara Arabs and SPLM [Sudan
People’s Liberation Movement] with Nuba Africans. The NCP and the SPLM
may be rivals [but] they both have vested interests in the CPA
[Comprehensive Peace Agreement].”

Signed in 2005 in Nairobi, the agreement ended years of war between
the NCP government and the SPLM. It provides for elections in July
2009 and a referendum on the status of the South in 2011.

“NCP and SPLM politicians [in Southern Kordofan] have for the last
three years had the chance to act as representatives without being
elected and thus have a lot of personal interests in remaining in
power,” op ‘t Ende said.

“Following the CPA towards the elections demands a certain level of
cooperation between NCP and SPLM and it seems the parties continue to
make some progress – enough to keep the CPA from derailing, too little
to be really convincing as a genuine effort to get the state back on
track,” he added.

Reconstruction plans

State Secretary-General Abdalla Eltom Elimam said development plans
existed. “It is a difficult state with poor roads, a hilly terrain,
seasonal rivers and rains making most of parts inaccessible,” he said.
“Dengue, haemorrhagic and yellow fevers are endemic.”

The five-year strategic development plan emphasises peace, security,
rehabilitation and reconstruction of basic sectors. “If we manage to
construct the main roads and provide water and healthcare, we will
help stabilise peace,” he added.

Local residents expressed mixed feelings. “During the war many people
were killed. Now we are moving freely but are not experiencing the
kind of peace and development that we were expecting,” Ayoub Osman, a
teacher in Kadugli told IRIN. “The CPA means an end to war, changes in
the status of living and reconciliation with former enemies, but some
people want the war to continue.”

Halima Kuku Adam, a tea-seller in Kolba area, said: “We need
education, healthcare and support in agriculture. Roads are still
lacking in the rural areas and water is a big cause of conflict. I do
not know what the CPA is about . but I feel there is no need to

Land issues

Conflict between farmers and nomads over pasture was another issue.
“The nomads bring their livestock to the farming areas for pasture and
water and this creates problems,” Osman said.

There were also too many firearms in circulation. “I feel insecure
when I see many people moving around with guns – this is definitely
not a sign of peace,” said Amanie Kunda, a resident.

Off-duty soldiers carried weapons even in crowded markets and there
were many frustrated, jobless ex-SPLM fighters.

“The young men are not eager to work the fields and are either
hanging around on a soldier’s fee, studying or looking for a job in
Khartoum,” said op ‘t Ende. “What does Southern Kordofan have to offer
young people?”

About 289,000 people have returned to Southern Kordofan since 2005;
the return of SPLA ex-combatants to the Nuba region from the Lake
al-Abyaed area will exacerbate the pressure on resources.

“Events in Southern Kordofan are likely to have a domino effect,”
said a humanitarian worker in the region. “People will look at events
there and the government’s handling of this will influence them.”

Growing instability

Discontent, analysts say, has grown. “Southern secession would leave
the Nuba within a Northern Sudan possibly dominated by the NCP, and
some former SPLA soldiers have reportedly set up armed groups
protesting the remarginalisation of the Nuba in the CPA,” the
think-tank Chatham House said in a 9 January report, Against the
Gathering Storm: Securing Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Pantuliano said differences over power-sharing between the NCP and
SPLM were aggravated in 2008 when an NCP governor dismissed finance
minister Ahmed Saeed, who was from the SPLM.

“In the central and eastern part, the rift between the SPLM and the
NCP [threatens] the delicate power-sharing arrangement between the two
parties,” she said. “If the SPLM demands to reinstate its finance
minister are not met, it is likely that it will withdraw from the
joint government, leading to further political instability and a
possible return to violence over the coming months.”

One observer said war was unlikely, however. “It is unlikely that the
state will return to war at least during the interim period,”
Abdalbasit Saeed noted in a blog article: Kordofan, Making Sense of

“The SPLA/Nuba earned the CPA protocol which ascertains an autonomous
identity for Southern Kordofan vis-à-vis Northern Kordofan,” Saeed
said. “Southern Kordofan won minimum gains that would make futile any
attempts of return to armed violence during the six-year interim

The protocol provides for public consultations on the CPA, but there
is still no commission to implement it. According to the International
Crisis Group, delays in setting up the commission have fed into Nuba
frustrations and reinforced perceptions that the protocol is unlikely
to produce positive outcomes.

A state land commission has also not been formed. “Land was a major
factor for people going to war, when it was taken from them and given
to big farms,” said a local leader. “The CPA did not clearly state
that land in the state is communally owned yet this is the feeling
among the people. If the land is taken away by force then there will
be problems.”


2. SPLM Accuses SAF of Re-arming Civilians in South Kordofan
6 January 2009 (SRS)

Members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement from South Kordofan state in the National Assembly say the Sudan Armed Forces are re-arming civilians in South Kordofan state.

Addressing journalists during a press conference in Khartoum on Monday, the chairman of the Environment and Tourism committee in the National Assembly,SPLM member Ramadam Ibrahim Shimela, said SAF troops are building up their forces in Kuk, South Kordofan, claiming that the anti-government Justice and Equality Movement is present in the area.

Shimela described the presence of SAF troops in South Kordofan as a
deliberate violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that forbids
SAF’s presence in the Nuba mountains after the 9th July 2007 relocation

[Ramadan Shimela]: “We think that re-arming civilians by giving them
weapons is a time-bomb which will never benefit the people of the state at
all. The presence of these weapons will never help promote the peace and
transformation we are talking about. These weapons will help transform
conflicts into wars and we think this situation is dangerous and we
strongly condemn it and we think that all of us must reveal this fact to
the public”.

Shimela urged the Government of National Unity to form a fact-finding
committee to investigate the issue and immediately disarm all the tribes
that he alleges have been re-armed recently by the SAF in South Kordofan


John Ashworth

+249 919 744 274 (Sudan)
+254 725 926 297 (Kenya)
+27 82 853 3556 (international roaming)
+88 216 4333 3401 (personal satphone – in the more remote parts of Sudan)
+88 216 6710 4316 (office satphone)

IKV Pax Christi
PO Box 53958 00200 Nairobi Kenya
+254 20 2340888

This is a personal e-mail address and the contents do not necessarily
reflect the views of IKV Pax Christi


Written by torit1955

January 15, 2009 at 8:43 am

One Response

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  1. This is very up-to-date info. I think I’ll share it on Delicious.

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    April 15, 2009 at 4:42 pm

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