In a recent report analyzing South Sudan’s changing political scene, the International Crisis Group described the region’s transition to statehood as a “window of opportunity,” particularly for those formerly excluded from positions of political power, “in which relationships between, and among, state and non-state actors may be redefined.” The assurance of South Sudan’s independence in July appears to have altered the calculations of many of the region’s armed actors in similar fashion. Since the announcement of South Sudan’s referendum results in early February, the region’s headlines have been dominated by the violent activities of existing militias, and the announcements of new ones emerging.
In the aftermath of recent flare-ups in Upper Nile between South Sudan’s army and southern militias, the southern government has quickly blamed its northern counterparts for the ongoing instability. And while northern complicity should be investigated, the strategy of the southern army vis à vis militias is also worth a look. The SPLA has decided to take on a more pre-emptive role rather than being on the defensive, as they were in recent months when they worked to entice splinter factions to come into the fold ahead of the referendum.
Upper Nile police and SPLA forces clashed with militia men led by Commander Olony in the state capital of Malakal over the weekend. As the conflict theater expands and becomes increasing inaccessible to the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, details about culpability and the impact on civilians are difficult to ascertain.
In a report released today, “South Sudan’s Militias”, Enough’s Sudan field researcher Mayank Bubna provides an in-depth analysis of the key southern militia leaders, their grievances, and how the Government of South Sudan should address the renewed violence and threats of internal security.
This report, based on extensive interviews conducted in Upper Nile state in January and February 2011, provides an overview of the state of play among South Sudan’s militias, which continue to be a critical challenge to securing a peaceful separation between North and South Sudan, and to the formation of a stable new state.
Intense fighting broke out in South Sudan on Wednesday and Thursday, killing over 100 people, according to various news reports .
As the frenetic excitement about southern Sudan's recent referendum wears off, the challenges of building up a new country from scratch loom. For some segments of southern Sudan’s society, the obstacles are even greater. “The women of southern Sudan are ‘the marginalized of the marginalized,’ as Dr. John Garang used to say,” said Anyieth D’Awol, founder of the ROOTS Project.
The successful launch of South Sudan’s referendum is cause for celebration, but a lot of work remains, emphasized Senator John Kerry, actor George Clooney, and Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast at a press conference in Juba.
“I have been waiting a long time for this day,” said a young man named Carter, standing in the intense, early morning sun. “Everyone here has, and we’re going for separation,” he said, gesturing toward the long lines of people around him who turned out to this polling station to vote in the South Sudan referendum on independence.
On January 5, four days before the referendum, we will be out in force in the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, carrying signs of villages destroyed in Darfur and in South Sudan, writes David Rosenberg in this guest post.
Sometimes journalists working in chaotic, hostile environments uncover amazing stories. Other times, they become the story.
This week marked an important milestone in the countdown to South Sudan's referendum – and not just among communities living in Sudan.
After months of delay, voter registration for South Sudan’s referendum belatedly began yesterday in Sudan and in the eight countries around the world that host the largest southern Sudanese populations.