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Sudan Second Civil War 1983-2004

On July 9, 2011 the Republic of South Sudan became an independent state--the 193rd country in the world and the 54th member of the African Union. A transitional constitution took effect the same day and provides for executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

In September 1983, as part of an Islamicization campaign, President Nimeiri announced his decision to incorporate traditional Islamic punishments drawn from Shari'a (Islamic Law) into the penal code. Southerners and other non-Muslims living in the north were also subjected to these punishments. These events, and other longstanding grievances, in part led to a resumption of the civil war that was held in abeyance since 1972, and the war continues until today.

After the 1985 coup, the new government rescinded President Nimeiri's 1983 decree and made other significant overtures aimed at reconciling north and south but did nor rescind the so-called September Laws of the Nimeiri regime instituting Shari'a Law. In May 1986, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government began peace negotiations with the SPLA, led by Col. John Garang de Mabior. In that year the SPLA and a number of Sudanese political parties met in Ethiopia and agreed to the "Koka Dam" declaration, which called for abolishing Islamic law and convening a constitutional conference. In 1988, the SPLA and the DUP agreed on a peace plan calling for the abolition of military pacts with Egypt and Libya, freezing of Islamic law, an end to the state of emergency, and a cease-fire. A constitutional conference would then be convened.

Following an ultimatum from the armed forces in February 1989, the Sadiq al-Mahdi government approved this peace plan and engaged in several rounds of talks with the SPLA. A constitutional conference was tentatively planned for September 1989. The military government, which took over on June 30, 1989, however, repudiated the DUP/SPLA agreement and state it wished to negotiate with the SPLA without preconditions. Negotiating sessions in August and December 1989 brought little progress.

The SPLA was in control of large areas of Equatoria, Bahr al Ghazal, and Upper Nile provinces and also operates in the southern portions of Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile provinces. The government controls a number of the major southern towns and cities, including Juba, Wau, and Malakal. An informal cease-fire in May broke down in October 1989, and fighting has continued since then.

The Sadiq al-Mahdi government in March 1989 agreed with the UN and donor nations (including the U.S.) on a plan called Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), under which some 100,000 tons of food was moved into both government and SPLA-held areas of the Sudan, and widespread starvation was averted. Phase II of OLS to cover 1990 was approved by both the government and the SPLA in March 1990. In 1991, Sudan faced a 2-year drought and food shortage across the entire country. The U.S., UN, and other donors attempted to mount a coordinated international relief effort in both north and south Sudan to prevent a catastrophe. However, due to Sudan's human rights abuses and its pro-Iraqi stance during the Gulf War, many donors cut much of their aid to the Sudan.

In August 1991, internal dissention among the rebels led opponents of Colonel Garang's leadership of the SPLA to form the so-called Nasir faction of the rebel army. In September 1992, William Nyuon Bany formed a second rebel faction, and in February 1993, Kerubino Kwanyin Bol formed a third rebel faction. On April 5, 1993, the three dissident rebel factions announced a coalition of their groups called SPLA United at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya. After 1991, the factions clashed occasionally and thus, the rebels lost much of their credibility with the West.

Meanwhile, the 1990s saw a growing sense of alienation in the western and eastern regions of Sudan from the Arab-dominated center. The rulers in Khartoum were seen as less and less responsive to the concerns and grievances of both Muslim and non-Muslim populations across the country. Alienation from the "Arab" center caused various groups to grow sympathetic to the southern rebels led by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and in some cases, prompted them to flight alongside it.

The policy of the ruling regime toward the south was to pursue the war against the rebels while trying to manipulate them by highlighting ethnic divisions. Ultimately, this policy resulted in many rebels uniting under the SPLM/A leadership of Colonel John Garang. During this period, the SPLM/A also enjoyed support from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. The Bashir government's "Pan-Islamic" foreign policy, which provided support for neighboring radical Islamist groups, was partly responsible for this support for the rebels.

The 1990s saw a succession of regional efforts to broker an end to the Sudanese north-south civil war. Beginning in 1993, the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya pursued a peace initiative for Sudan under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), but results were mixed. Despite that record, the IGAD initiative promulgated the 1994 Declaration of Principles (DOP) which aimed to identify the essential elements necessary to a just and comprehensive peace settlement; i.e., the relationship between religion and the state, power sharing, wealth sharing, and the right of self-determination for the south. The Sudanese Government did not sign the DOP until 1997, after major battlefield losses to the SPLA. That year, the Khartoum government signed a series of agreements with various rebel factions under the banner of "Peace from Within." These included the Khartoum, Nuba Mountains, and Fashoda Agreements that ended military conflict between the government and significant rebel factions. Many of those leaders then moved to Khartoum where they assumed marginal roles in the central government or collaborated with the government in military engagements against the SPLA. These three agreements paralleled the terms and conditions of the IGAD agreement, calling for a degree of autonomy for the south and the right of self-determination.

In July 2002, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A reached a historic agreement on the role of state and religion and the right of southern Sudan to self-determination. This agreement, known as the Machakos Protocol and named after the town in Kenya where the peace talks were held, concluded the first round of talks sponsored by the IGAD. The effort was mediated by retired Kenyan General Lazaro Sumbeiywo. Peace talks resumed and continued during 2003, with discussions focusing on wealth sharing and three contested areas.

On November 19, 2004, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A signed a declaration committing themselves to conclude a final Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by December 31, 2004, in the context of an extraordinary session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Nairobi, Kenya--only the fifth time the Council had met outside of New York since its founding. At this session, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 1574, which welcomed the commitment of the government and the SPLM/A to achieve agreement by the end of 2004, and underscored the international communitys intention to assist the Sudanese and South Sudanese people and support implementation of the CPA. In keeping with their commitment to the UNSC, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A initialed the final elements of the CPA on December 31, 2004. The two parties formally signed the CPA on January 9, 2005. The U.S. and the international community welcomed this decisive step forward for peace.




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