Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

What future for southern Sudan?

May 18, 2009

It’s less than a year before Sudan’s first ever national election, so what are people thinking in the south of the country, in an area blighted by two decades of fighting?

In the village of Leer, reminders of civil war are everywhere, such as a large hole where most of the village would crouch, hiding from bomber planes and helicopter gunships.

 James Chuol, who is now 27 years old, fought in the war as one of thousands of children recruited to fight for the southern rebels. He is now a teacher.

“We went to the bush as child soldiers and we were really like children … We were trained by the big people how to fight the enemy, how to hide ourselves in the bush,” he told Reuters Africa Journal.

The war between north and south started in 1983. In 2005 the two sides signed a comprehensive peace agreement.

According to the agreement, southern Sudan will have a referendum in 2011 to decide whether it will be independent from the north. The country will hold joint elections next year.

In Leer, Chuol hopes the elections run smoothly. Because if they do, he’ll be able to cast another, more important vote — in the 2011 referendum.

“I want southern Sudan to be separated from the north. I need southern Sudan to be different from northern Sudan because we the people of southern Sudan have really suffered,” he said.

His views at least are clear and if they are shared by other southerners, a lot will have to be done to persuade them not to vote for secession.


I agree with Ben Makori regarding the elections in southern Sudan and the comments made by the Sudanese in the south. When visiting Khartoum in late 2006, I spoke with several high level ministerial staff. In discussions regarding the elections, they conceded that “incentives” would need to be provided to people in southern Sudan to “entice” them to vote against secession. To my knowledge, the northerners have since provided no such incentives or enticements.
Martina Nicolls is the author of The Sudan Curse.


Derrida in Khartoum – Is the Disintegration of the Sudan Imminent?

My latest contribution to Konkret (7/09) deals with the intensification of the many conflicts in Africa’s biggest country. Some analysts even go so far as to predict a Somalia scenario any time soon. The warrant of arrest of the ICC for President Omar al-Bashir was supposed to raise the pressure on the Islamists, but some observers doubt that this strategy in fact succeeded. Read some excerpts of that article here.


Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see