Between the cancellation of a Darfur civil society conference and what I’m about to report, recent events in Sudan are a further illustration of mounting tension around the question of how to bring comprehensive peace in the country.
Sudan’s state news agency announced, according to Reuters, that Khartoum would appoint Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, head of South Kordofan province, located on the volatile border between northern and southern Sudan. It was bad enough that a man wanted for his role in the death and displacement of millions of Sudanese would head up the government’s humanitarian ministry; now Haroun will oversee a province that contains key oil fields and the contested town of Abeyi — where clashes between northern and southern armies last year displaced an estimated 50,000 people — at a time when the peace deal that helped to end the conflict over that very region looks close to collapsing.
Haroun is infamous for his role in training and directing the Janjaweed militias that are responsible for much of the death and destruction in Darfur, and is perhaps one of the most contentious people Khartoum could have sent to man this frontline between North and South, Sudan’s Kashmir. While the leadership in the South acknowledged that the post was Khartoum’s to appoint, the tension along the North-South border and Haroun’s sordid past makes this move akin to sending the coyote to guard the chicken coop.