Sudan. According to Countryaah official site, the year was completely dominated by Sudan’s split in July, when the southern part of the country declared itself independent. It was one of the most profound political changes in Africa’s post-colonial history. Although the South Sudanese referendum on independence in January could be carried out in orderly forms, it was not at all obvious that the division would take place peacefully.
For the border area Abyei, preliminarily located in the north, the affiliation remained unclear as the north and south could not agree on the border crossing. The period between the referendum and the outbreak of South Sudan was marked by increased violence in Abyei, first at the local level between the misseriya and ngoginka ethnic groups with ethnic and political ties north and south respectively. In March, increased troop contractions were reported in the area, mainly from the north side. In April, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened not to recognize the impending neighboring country if its government claimed Abyei. At the end of May, regular Sudanese forces entered the area and expelled soldiers from the south. Extensive destruction was reported and strong protests came from the outside world. According to data from South Sudan, 150,000 civilians were driven away.
Shortly before South Sudan’s independence in July, both sides dampened the tone. They agreed to resume negotiations on the entire border, Abyei’s future and the distribution of oil income and foreign debt after the country’s division. When South Sudan celebrated its independence, President al-Bashir was one of the guests of honor in the new capital of Juba.
During the year there were also fighting in the oil-rich state of South Kurdufan. Following local elections in May, when the regime-loyal governor was re-elected, the conflict between the government side and armed allies from the South Sudanese ruling party SPLM’s (Sudanese people’s liberation movement) northern branch intensified. The UN estimated that 60,000 civilians were forced to flee in June and the regime threatened to defeat resistance by all means. A UN report described the regime’s persecution of the area’s Nuba population as so systematic that it was likely to speak of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In September, fighting in the nearby Blue Nile broke out between army forces and troops loyal to the state governor, who was elected in 2010 and belongs to the SPLM-North. The governor was dismissed by the government, the state of emergency was announced and the state placed under military administration. After the SPLM-North declared armed struggle against the regime and appealed for international support, the party was declared illegal, its offices closed throughout the country and mass arrests of members reported. The fighting continued during the fall and the regime deployed bombers against the rebels. At a boom in southern Sudanese soil in November, at least twelve people were reported killed when a refugee camp was attacked. The US condemned the bombing as a provocation that risked waging war between Sudan and South Sudan.
As a result of the country’s division, all South Sudanese residents of the north were deprived of their Sudanese citizenship. It also introduced a new currency, the new Sudanese pound, and adopted a crisis budget to try to limit the consequences of government revenue expected to decline by at least 36% as a result of lost oil sources. The value of the old pound had fallen sharply during the year due to rising food prices and poorly managed government finances.
During the first months of the year, young people and oppositionists tried to organize demonstrations against the Khartoum regime on several occasions. Partially inspired by the riots in Tunisia and Egypt, protests were spread to protests via Facebook and Twitter, but every attempt to demonstrate to a greater extent was resolutely defeated by the regime’s security forces.
Peace agreement with Sudan’s revolutionary front
Sudan’s Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of resistance movements in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, signs a peace agreement with the transitional government. The agreement touches on everything from security issues and land rights to power sharing and refugee issues. The rebels will be integrated into the regular army. A formal ceremony will be held two days later in Juba in South Sudan, which has been mediated between the parties since the end of 2019. Two important rebel groups choose not to participate in the peace deal: a faction of the Sudan liberation movement and a breakaway group from the SPLM North.
No normalized relations with Israel
Sudan’s transitional government has no mandate to normalize relations with Israel. This is what Prime Minister Hamdok says to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is visiting Khartoum. The United States wants Sudan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as a condition for the United States to remove Sudan from the list of countries that support terrorism. Pompeo’s visit to Sudan is part of a tour of the Arab world to strengthen Israeli-Arab relations.
SPLM-Nord splits over peace agreement
The transitional government concludes a peace agreement with the rebel movement SPLM-North, which waged an armed struggle against the old al-Bashir regime in southern Kordofan, the Nuba mountains and the Blue Nile in southern Sudan (see Conflicts, Sudan-South Sudan). According to the agreement, the resistance movement must be integrated into the government army no later than November 2023. SPLM-Nord must be disarmed and the recruitment of child soldiers is prohibited. However, a group within SPLM-Nord refuses to accept the agreement and breaks out on the grounds that the so-called sovereign council’s second highest leader, General Hamdan Dagalo, has committed a serious violation of human rights. Dagalo leads the infamous paramilitary militia RSF, which is accused of committing serious abuses in the Darfur conflict.