August 02, 2005

On The Brink of Collapse

This certainly isn't good news.

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Violent mobs surged again into the streets of Sudan's capital Tuesday, a day after 36 people died in riots sparked by the death of Sudanese vice president and former southern rebel leader John Garang.

The initial violence Monday was blamed on Garang supporters from the Christian and animist south who blamed his death in a helicopter crash on Sudan's Muslim-dominated government, but both northerners and southerners reportedly staged attacks Tuesday after a quiet morning.

Arab gangs invaded some neighborhoods heavily populated by southerners on the outskirts of Khartoum and attacked people in the streets and raided homes, said William Ezekiel, managing editor of the Khartoum Monitor. He said some people had been shot to death.

"The Arabs are attacking them, entering their houses and looking for southerners," said Ezekiel, whose newspaper focuses largely on southern issues.

"It's a reaction to the reaction from yesterday: `Where is the government? Where are the police?'" he said.

A senior U.N. official in Khartoum said angry southerners from camps outside the capital for people displaced by the long war in southern Sudan attacked the Omdurman area. He said a Muslim imam had been slain.

"The situation is turning religious and that will be even more dangerous," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.

The reports of deaths Tuesday could not be independently confirmed. Officials said Monday's riots resulted in 36 people being killed and about 300 injured.

The government renewed the 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew first imposed Monday night, and by midafternoon downtown streets were nearly empty. An occasional siren could be heard.{...}

Oh man.

Sudan's twenty-three-year long civil war between the Northern---Muslim---government and Southern---Christian and Animist---opposition has finally been put to bed with a power sharing deal and it's threatened by this. And make no mistake about it, the peace deal is very much at risk of dissolving with Garang's death. His appointment as Vice President was a very big deal. While I still claim that this decades long civil war was fought more in the name of resources, which are scarce in the North but abundant in the South, religion does play some part in it. And it seems as if that's to be the dividing line once again with this recent violence. The new government has to quash the violence and they have to be equal about it. Any hint of favoritism will blow the peace accord right out of the water: these people are used to fighting; they may want peace, but they know initmately how that peace was obtained and if Bashir, the Northern President, doesn't follow the terms of the deal in relation to quashing the violence, it will be seen by the Southerners as proof that a. they actually did kill Garang and b. they never meant to follow through with the terms of the peace deal in the first place. Even though the SPLM is Garang's organization, and they have denied that the accident was anything other than an accident, it's been reported that they did as much killing of southerners as did the Northern army. If I were a Southern Sudanese, I'd be just as wary of them and anything they had to say as I would be of the Northerners.

Whether or not Bashir will actually do what is needed to salvage the deal is anyone's best guess. It will be interesting to see who rises to take Garang's VP slot. If Bashir appoints a northerner, someone loyal to him, it's a sure sign that's he's going to renege and that the Civil War will flare back up again.

Posted by Kathy at August 2, 2005 01:06 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?