Sudan after Separation: New Approaches to a New Region

Sudan after Separation: New Approaches to a New Region

Sudan after Separation: New Approaches to a New Region
Apr 04, 2013
Heinrich Böll Stiftung
Place of Publication: Berlin
Date of Publication: April 2013
Number of Pages: 120


The book opens with a panoramic view of the two Sudans one year after the split. Francis Deng, one of the most seasoned and compassionate observers of Sudan’s troubled history, shares his personal reflections on what he calls the «paradox of Southern independence.» Recalling the «bitter-sweet response» he felt during the independence celebrations in Juba, he pleads with the governments of both north and south not to take separation as an excuse for continued acrimony, but to accept the shared history of the two Sudans as the basis for peaceful coexistence. Eddie Thomas then goes on to develop a convincing analogy for Sudan’s post-separation predicament: that of a «strange duopoly» that has given way to two unstable monopolies. Outlining the various «modes of opposition» faced by the National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Juba, he traces the fault lines of the new polities and looks at the difficult times ahead.

The next two chapters look at the ways in which the south’s independence has transformed the north. Aly Verjee highlights both changes at the centre, where military hardliners face the dilemma of controlling a more urban population with substantially fewer means, and in the peripheries, where old and new military contenders are joining forces against the government in Khartoum. Magdi el-Gizouli then addresses the question of how the NCP managed not only to dodge the regional turmoil of the Arab Spring, but even to portray its own rise to power as a «Sudanese foretaste» of the latter. He points to the Islamic movement’s increasingly populist rhetoric, which has mobilised its constituency in the wake of the south’s separation, and to the disconnection between Khartoum’s «generation facebook» and impoverished populations in the peripheries.

The contributions by Jok Madut Jok and Paula Roque, on the other hand, focus on some of the challenges facing the new Government of South Sudan. Jok, an undersecretary in the Ministry of Culture, makes the case for an inclusive nation-building project that can unite South Sudan’s diverse population even in the absence of a common enemy. Roque, drawing on recent interviews with the South Sudanese leadership, traces the SPLM’s  transformation from rebel movement to ruling party. She argues that, while the SPLM has shown its ability to adapt to radically altered circumstances, it is reluctant to trade in its liberation credentials for a more democratic kind of legitimacy.

The book concludes with concrete advice on ways in which the international community, and the German government in particular, can play a positive role in this tense political climate. Wolfram Lacher presents an overview of the main points of contention among international actors: Which side is to blame in the post-separation conflicts; who among the foreign powers should get involved; and the question whether a confrontational stance makes sense or not. Contrasting Germany’s considerable financial investment in the Sudanese peace processes with its limited leverage on the ground, he stresses that the best approach would not be to inflate bilateral aid, but to push for greater co-ordination and commitment within the EU and the UN.

The convoluted nature of post-CPA politics in the two Sudans calls for clear security guarantees and unequivocal sanctions, not for an even greater cacophony of donors jostling for influence. No Easy Ways Ahead was the title chosen for the previous report on Sudan in 2010, and there is little in the above to suggest that the road ahead will be any smoother. Nevertheless, there is a world of difference between a messy divorce and a no-holds-barred return to the battlefield. The many injustices and contradictions the Sudanese state(s) and societies have incurred over the centuries cannot simply be erased by a new war.

Sudan’s political arena may often be marked by violence, but experience shows that difficult compromises and strategic détente are also a possibility. We hope that this book will point to such opportunities – and that it will convey the urgency to seize them now.

With contributions by Alex de Waal, Atta El-Battahani, John G. Nyuot Yoh, Pieter Wezeman, Marina Peter, Roland Marchal, Axel Harneit-Sievers, and Peter Schumann.