Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Turmoil in south Sudan’s wild lands

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South Sudan’s Jonglei State contains one of Africa’s largest remaining intact wildernesses. From the air the area’s sheer vastness, the green plains broken only by bending rivers and huge swamps, is intimidating.

Its human landscape is one of turmoil, of tribal violence, slavery and in the last half
century, two long north-south civil wars. The last one ended in 2005 with a deal between Khartoum and the main southern rebel group.

It should now be at peace. But hundreds of people — the United Nations says more than 1,000 — have died here this year in a resurgence of inter-ethnic violence of an intensity not seen since the end of the war.

There was plenty then: many of the 2 million deaths in the north-south war were south-on-south as Khartoum-backed tribal militias battled the main southern rebel group that itself spilt as a result of bloody ethnically coloured power struggles.

War child sings songs of peace

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“When you see a Sudanese walking on the street there is a story,” child soldier turned hip-hop star Emmanuel Jal says.

That’s certainly true for Jal. He was sent to fight for Sudan People’s Liberation Army when he was just six years old.

Will Bashir warrant worsen war?

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Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has seen off other challenges in almost 20 years in power and there is no sign that he is going to give in to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Some supporters of the court’s move hope it will eventually persuade Sudan’s politicians to hand over their leader in a palace coup, end the festering conflict in Darfur and do more to repair relations with the West.

Sudan struggles

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By reaching the gates of Khartoum, Darfur rebels have dealt one of the heaviest blows to Sudan’s traditionally Arab ruling elite since independence in 1956.

Early on Sunday, it looked as though government assertions that the army had beaten back the initial assault were true, but what is the attack going to mean for Africa’s biggest country and the way it is run?

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