Is Khartoum orchestrating tribal conflicts in South Sudan?

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Published on Sunday, 03 May 2009 02:56
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Manyok Biar is a regular contributor to NSV
Tribal conflicts that have plagued Jonglei State, Lakes State, and Warrap State have now moved to Central Equatoria State. The Sudan Tribune reported on April 29, 2009 that fighting is now going on between the Bari Community and Mundari Community north of Juba around Jebel Ladu. The fighting between Bari Community and Mundari Community is reported to have involved heavy artillery.

South Sudanese are always suspicious that Khartoum’s hand would be in tribal conflicts in South Sudan. Some analysts, however, do not see evidence connecting Khartoum to tribal conflicts in Southern Sudan. Yet, one can agree with these analysts to some extent because there were no concrete evidences to support South Sudanese claims about Khartoum’s involvement in what is going on in South Sudan. But those who suspected Khartoum were saying that they occasionally see helicopters landing in the area of Murle. But nobody has filmed those helicopters to say with confidence that they are from Khartoum.

However, some of us who were not willing to join the bandwagon in blaming Khartoum for tribal conflicts in South Sudan have now joined. Khartoum appears to be behind tribal conflict in South Sudan. The evidence is what President Bashir said recently.

The Sudan Tribune reported President Bashir on April 29, 2009 as saying:

“We are not worried about the referendum results which we accepted to resort to and so far there are 40% of Southerners [who] want to stay as part of the united state. This percentage is increasing particularly in light of conflicts between Southern tribes some of which refuse to accept the SPLM. These conflicts did not stop in the last few years.”

President Bashir is clear in this statement that Southern Sudanese will vote for united Sudan if “conflicts between Southern tribes” increase, because that is going to lead to the rejection of SPLM by Southerners. Bashir does not seem to care about any change in his policies to make unity attractive in Sudan. What he is interested in is to increase chaos in the South so that people in Southern Sudan can turn to Khartoum for order and “good governance.” This means that Southern Sudanese who connect tribal conflicts in South Sudan to Khartoum’s plot to undermine the government of South Sudan are justified.

Nobody is new to Khartoum’s politics of divide and rule. We know that in the 1990s, Khartoum managed to divide the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to the point that Ali al-Haj would buy Southern politicians to destroy SPLM/A. It was then that Khartoum became very confident to declare that the problem between the North and the South would be solved through the barrel of the gun. This fantasy came to an end when Southerners realized that their unity was a key to their success against the oppressive regime in Khartoum. Khartoum then saw no solution through the barrel of the gun after the unity of different warring parties within the SPLM/A. Unity of Southerners would have been the reason why the same warmongers in Khartoum became peacemakers in 2005. The strategy, as it is now becoming clear, was for Khartoum to resort to the politics of divide and rule in different form, not through the buying of Southern politicians but through the sponsoring of tribal conflicts to let public see SPLM as incompetent in ruling South Sudan. Northern strategists know very well that the public in Southern Sudan will be the one to vote for unity or separation of Sudan in 2011.

This is a serious situation. South Sudan politicians must get involved in sensitizing tribes in Southern Sudan about Khartoum’s destructive policies that President Bashir has confessed to be part of their agenda for forcing Southerners to vote for unattractive unity of Sudan in 2011. Southern Sudan politicians must know that the failure of the government of Southern Sudan is the downfall of the politicians of South Sudan. None of South Sudan politicians is going to survive under Khartoum regime if Southern Sudanese vote for unattractive unity in 2011.

*Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He's a regular contributor to The New Sudan Vision. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.