>Africa File: Sudan’s genocidal Muslim dictator bows to referendum results, embattled oil-rich South to become independent state on July 9, 2011

>On Friday, 105 combatants and civilians were killed in a clash between rebels and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), South Sudan’s insurgent army turned military, shattering a brief ceasefire. “It was George Athor’s men who came with machine guns, AK 47s and started firing,” said South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer.

Athor took up arms last year, alleging fraud in state elections. However, he agreed to the ceasefire deal with the SPLM/A only days before January’s referendum on secession. The South’s regional government accused Athor of being an agent provocateur of the North, sent to stir up trouble and derail the referendum. Sudanese officials in Khartoum deny the charges.

Pictured above: Former South African President Thabo Mbeki (2nd from right) arrives with Southern Sudan Referendum Commission chairperson Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil (center) to announce the official referendum results in Khartoum, on February 7, 2011.

As it turned out, some 99 percent of southern Sudanese voted for independence in last month’s week-long vote, the results of which were announced on January 31. On July 9, the Republic of South Sudan will formally secede, becoming the world’s youngest independent state, and the older Republic of Sudan will no longer be Africa’s largest country.

Peter Martell, BBC’s correspondent in the South’s capital, Juba, predicts that Athor’s mini-insurgency is “another sign of the challenges the South faces in bringing its people together and improving security.” Last weekend, 50 people were killed in fighting in southern Sudan’s Upper Nile state.

The referendum marks the final phase of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which concluded 20 years of war between the government in Khartoum and the “ex”-Marxist SPLM/A in the South. This civil war reportedly claimed the lives of some two million people and left millions more displaced. SPLM/A battlefield commander Salva Kiir Mayardit, who is currently the Vice President of Sudan, will become the first president of the independent South Sudan.

Following the referendum, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir acknowledged his acceptance of the outcome. On Wednesday, Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations hinted that the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Bashir should be withdrawn as a “reward” for him accepting the South’s independence. Bashir is accused of war crimes and genocide in a separate conflict in the western region of Darfur, where a different group of rebels, with backing from Chad’s dictator, took up arms in 2003. The African Union wants the warrant to be dropped, insisting that the priority should be to “secure peace.”

Although President Bashir would no doubt like to improve his genocidal image abroad, the truncated desert state of Sudan will remain a bloody Islamic dictatorship. On Thursday, security forces arrested the opposition Umma Party’s spokeswoman Mariam al-Mahdi, the latest detention in a crackdown on anti-government protests. Mariam is the daughter of Sadeq al-Mahdi, Sudan’s last democratically elected president who was overthrown by the current National Congress Party government in a 1989 bloodless coup.

“Security forces took her away before she could get into her car,” related cousin Habab Mubarak. Mahdi’s sister Rabah confirmed that Mariam had been detained. “We do not know where she is being held,” she told Reuters.

Inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks, young Sudanese in the North have staged small demonstrations against food price hikes and chronic human rights abuses.

Upon secession, oil-rich South Sudan will lose access to both the Red Sea–much as Ethiopia lost its access in 1993, when Eritrea seceded from that ancient country–and the North’s petroleum infrastructure. Communist China has invested heavily in Sudan’s oil industry, which straddles the border region between the North and South. Anticipating secession, state-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which is responsible for producing about one half of Sudan’s 500,000 barrels per year, established a satellite office in Juba late last year.

Red China’s CNPC has a 40 per cent share in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). The other consortium partners are Malaysia’s Petronas Carigali Overseas with 30 percent, India’s ONGC Videsh with 25 percent, and Sudan’s Sudapet with the remaining five percent. Under the current agreement, Khartoum and Juba split the Sudanese share of revenues equally. Apart from its oil revenue, South Sudan has a largely subsistence-based economy.

“Carving up the GNPOC Consortium along the border may have dire consequences for all parties involved,” warned a report by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan. A senior CNPC official told the Financial Times the GNPOC companies are concerned that their contract with Sudan will be disturbed by the South’s secession. Thus, they have proposed that the drilling blocks be managed by a joint venture formed between the two new states.

“China has a substantial amount of oil interests in the south and one of the interesting parts is the very positive role that China has been playing behind the scenes,” commented David Abramowitz, policy director at Humanity United, a US human rights group.

Rather than rely on the North’s Port Sudan on the Red Sea, South Sudan’s ruling SPLM/A favors the construction of a pipeline, which Toyota Tsusho Corp. has proposed building from Juba to Kenya’s Lamu Island.

One response to “>Africa File: Sudan’s genocidal Muslim dictator bows to referendum results, embattled oil-rich South to become independent state on July 9, 2011

  1. mah29001 February 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    >There are still clashes in southern Sudan, which explains why the Sudanese government knows it's still in that region of Sudan.

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