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Weekend Reading: New Dispatches from Sudan and Congo

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Weekend Reading: New Dispatches from Sudan and Congo

Posted by Enough Team on July 17, 2010

Enough researchers in eastern Congo and southern Sudan sent two new field dispatches that are up on our website now. With these two short reports, we welcome and introduce Enough Said readers to Fidel Bafilemba, our new researcher based in Goma in the eastern Congo. We also mark the departure of Maggie Fick from the Enough team. Her regular updates and insightful analysis from Juba have given us all a valuable glimpse into southern Sudan at a historic moment. We will miss her greatly.

From eastern Congo, Fidel explores the land controversies that are being exacerbated by or cropping up as a result of the ongoing return of refugees to North Kivu province. He writes:

"The return of Congolese refugees from neighboring Rwanda remains a particularly contentious issue here in North Kivu, eastern Congo. (…) I recently traveled to some of the areas where displaced people are settling, and spoke to people closely involved in refugee returns in the region. This dispatch presents a closer look at some of the patterns of returns and specific types of land disputes that have emerged during the past months, and their potential to further destabilize the region."

In particular, Fidel highlights the parallel administration run by the former rebel group CNDP, which is giving some displaced people the peace of mind to return home but creating tension among many others. Read the dispatch here.

From Juba, Maggie describes some of the challenges that the Government of Southern Sudan is facing with six months to go until the January referendum, which is widely expected to yield an independent South. The dispatch describes three distinct uprisings that have occurred in southern Sudan since the April elections that question the authority of the Juba government and state-level leadership. “Aside from the threat of violence these rebellions pose, what is perhaps most alarming is that the southern government, led by the ruling SPLM party, and the SPLA itself, have proved incapable of resolving them, either politically or militarily,” Maggie writes.

Increasingly repressive behavior by the SPLM and the army have also marked the post-election period. Maggie reports:

“A recent Enough research trip to Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, found that state government officials view political opposition, both during the elections and currently, as a crime against the state—an attitude that motivates the heavy-handed approach the SPLM/A has adopted against dissidents.”

The southern ruling party maintains broad support as southerners await the chance to vote for unity or independence in January. But regardless of the outcome of the referendum in relation to the South’s ties to the North, the fact is that these pressing internal tensions in the South aren’t going to suddenly disappear. Read Maggie’s dispatch here.