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Beyond documents: The dynamics of the North-South divide

MiCT The Niles
The document-based war has intensified between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Northern Government from one side and the Sudan People\'s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Southern Sudan…
26.03.2011
يناير 2011 : ريك مشار (في الوسط)، نائب رئيس حكومة جنوب السودان، خلال حفل التوقيع على اتفاق وقف اطلاق النار مع قوات المتمردين من جورج العامة.
يناير 2011 : ريك مشار (في الوسط)، نائب رئيس حكومة جنوب السودان، خلال حفل التوقيع على اتفاق وقف اطلاق النار مع قوات المتمردين من جورج العامة.

This war has brought us back to an atmosphere of tension and nervousness. The SPLM tries to prove that the northern government supports rebel movements in the South, especially the militia of General George Athor Deng Dot. The northern government denies these allegations and retaliates with a similar war.


Faisal Mohamed Saleh
The value of these documents, in case of their legitimacy, lies in establishing a strong legal position, possibly followed by an official complaint to the sponsors of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), or to regional and international organisations.

The reading and analysis of political attitudes, to see whether one party supports those rebelling against the other side, does not need any official documentation as much as it requires deep knowledge of the political positions and attitudes of each side and their historical antecedents. This reading does not rule out the possibility of the northern government supporting rebel parties in the South, as it neither excludes the support of the government of the South to rebel parties in Darfur and other regions.

Any reading of the two parties' behaviours supports this claim, despite the political rhetoric in public meetings and conferences, and the soft talk here and there. Unfortunately, the dominant mentality is similar in both the North and the South, a mentality which takes advantage of dissension and strife, and believes that in the instability of the other lies one's interest.

Listen to Marvis Birungi's radio reportages "Sacrificing lives for political games" and "Failure to reintegrate causes instability"

But the most dangerous aspect of these dynamics is that the SPLM is now walking in the steps of its arch-rival, the NCP. Using external threats as a diversion from internal problems and their root causes is becoming the strategy followed by the South as well. The SPLM is now trying to overlook the fact that the South suffers from a number of issues that can be manipulated at any time.

Tribalism, the spread of arms, the threatening presence of militias, government corruption, a confused list of priorities, and the huge disparity between reality and the high expectations and ambitions of the Southern Sudanese people are all problems vividly present in Southern Sudan. In light of these problems, the political leadership needs to show wisdom, insight and true statesmanship to cross these mine fields, and to commit to daily hard work to face the root causes of these problems.

Read also "Instability rising with new clashes in Malakal" by Boboya Simon Wudu and "Fresh Fighting in Abyei and Jonglei"             by Pascal Ladu

One does not expect these problems to be resolved overnight nor that the fruits of their resolution to show soon, but one expects a political behaviour which recognises these problems and works on resolving them, instead of adhering to conspiracy theories and making external parties carry the whole burden.

The NCP used this strategy in Darfur, with an explanation summarising the causes the crises to an elaborate conspiracy of big international players. The result of this was the negligence of all possible peaceful resolution methods. Instead of recognising the reality of the Darfur crises with all the mistakes committed by all those involved, the NCP watched these crises worsen until the whole situation became impossible to grasp.


General Geroge Athor
General George Athor does not have any historical links with the North. He is a historical leader of the SPLM and the SPLA. His rebellion was the result of post-elections internal problems. It is possible to track back and attribute the reasons behind his rebellion and his continuous war against the southern government to the violations which occurred during the 2010 elections.

In addition, the composition of the SPLA and its tribal nature, the laxity and lack of discipline within the SPLA's ranks, and finally neglect the insurgency when it was in its first stages and retaliating though military means later can all be speculated as reasons for Athor's rebel movement.

It is within these dynamics that the crisis lies, and it is there as well where the solution can be found. As for the North's support to Athor, which in my opinion is most probable, it can be stopped by dealing with the root causes of the problem.

Comment written by Faisal Mohamed Saleh