|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|President||Omar Hassan al-Bashir|
|Area||967,495 sq mi|
|GDP||$84.755 billion (2007)|
|GDP per capita||$2,522 (2007)|
Sudan is the largest African country by area, and the 10th largest country in the world by area. The capital of Sudan is Khartoum, and the president is Omar al-Bashir. The country has a population of approximately 33 million (2006 estimate). Since 2003, Sudan has come under serious international scrutiny for the Darfur conflict, a government-sponsored ethnic cleansing campaign against black Africans by the Arabic Janjaweed militias.
Despite official denials, slavery continues to exist in Sudan.
- "Mende Nazer published a book about her life story as a slave in Sudan and how she finally escaped to freedom in London - which became an immediate best-seller."
Although the British outlawed slavery in Sudan, this did not quite have the effect of a complete abolition. Slavery continued in remote areas. In the 1980s, civil war between the Muslim north and non-Muslim south fueled the revival of slavery. Susan Rice told reporters in southern Sudan,
- "Part of why I am here is to show the world that, despite what the government in Khartoum says, despite what some of our partners in the European Union may want to pretend ... slavery exists, it has to be acknowledged, and it has to be addressed."
Sudan's population is one of the most diverse on the African continent. There are two distinct major cultures--"Arab" and black African--with hundreds of ethnic and tribal subdivisions and language groups, which make effective collaboration among them a major political challenge.
The northern states cover most of the Sudan and include most of the urban centers. Most of the 22 million Sudanese who live in this region are Arabic-speaking Muslims, though the majority also uses a non-Arabic mother tongue--e.g., Nubian, Beja, Fur, Nuban, Ingessana, etc. Among these are several distinct tribal groups: the Kababish of northern Kordofan, a camel-raising people; the Ja'alin and Shaigiyya groups of settled tribes along the rivers; the semi-nomadic Baggara of Kordofan and Darfur; the Hamitic Beja in the Red Sea area and Nubians of the northern Nile areas, some of whom have been resettled on the Atbara River; and the Nuba of southern Kordofan and Fur in the western reaches of the country.
The southern region has a population of around 6 million and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. Except for a ten-year hiatus, southern Sudan has been embroiled in conflict, resulting in major destruction and displacement since independence. More than 2 million people have died, and more than 4 million are internally displaced or have become refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. The southern Sudanese practice mainly indigenous traditional beliefs, although Christian missionaries have converted some. The south also contains many tribal groups and many more languages than are used in the north. The Dinka--whose population is estimated at more than 1 million--is the largest of the many black African tribes of the Sudan. Along with the Shilluk and the Nuer, they are among the Nilotic tribes. The Azande, Bor, and Jo Luo are "Sudanic" tribes in the west, and the Acholi and Lotuhu live in the extreme south, extending into Uganda.
In 2006, Sudan's population reached an estimated 41 million. A new census is planned for 2008. The population of metropolitan Khartoum (including Khartoum, Omdurman, and North Khartoum) is growing rapidly and ranges from 6-7 million, including around 2 million internally displaced persons from the former southern war zone as well as western and eastern regions affected by drought, conflict, and marginalization. In Darfur, there are an estimated 1.8 million internally displaced persons and another 220,000 refugees in neighboring Chad--200,000 in 12 camps and 20,000 in the border area.
- Population (2005 est.): 40.2 million; 30%-33% urban.
- Annual growth rate (2004 est.): 2.6%.
- Ethnic groups: Arab/Muslim north and black African/Christian and animist south.
- Religions: Islam (official), indigenous beliefs (southern Sudan), Christianity.
- Languages: Arabic (official), English, tribal languages.
- Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--35%-40%. Literacy--61%.
- Health: Infant mortality rate--64/1,000. Life expectancy--58.5 yrs.
- Work force: Agriculture--80%; industry and commerce--7%; government--13%.
See also: Christians in Sudan
An estimated 70% of the population is Muslim. Islam predominates in the north. Almost all Muslims are Sunni, although there are significant distinctions between followers of different Sunni traditions, particularly among Sufi brotherhoods.
An estimated 25% of the population holds traditional indigenous beliefs (animism), which are prevalent in rural areas throughout the country. Some animists have been baptized but do not identify themselves as Christians, or they combine Christian and animist practices.
Christians are the third largest religious group, traditionally concentrated in the south and the Nuba Mountains. Widespread displacement and migration during the long civil war increased the population of Christians living in the north. While many Christians have returned to the south, Khartoum still has a significant Christian population. The Roman Catholic Church of Sudan and the Episcopal Churches of Sudan estimate they have six million and five million baptized followers, respectively, although active churchgoers are far fewer.
There are very small but long-established groups of Orthodox Christians in Khartoum and other northern cities, including Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. There are also Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox communities in Khartoum and the east, largely made up of refugees and migrants. Other Christian groups with smaller followings include the Africa Inland Church, Armenian (Apostolic) Church, Sudan Church of Christ, Sudan Interior Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Sudan Pentecostal Church, Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (in the north), Presbyterian Church of the Sudan (in the south), and the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Sudan.
Religion plays a prominent role in the complex system of political alliances. Northern Muslims have dominated the political and economic system since independence in 1956. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the GNU has appointed both Muslims and Christians to prominent executive positions.
The dominant political power in Sudan, the National Congress Party (NCP), draws its support from conservative Arab Muslims in the north. Its previous incarnation, the National Islamic Front, ruled from 1989 to 1998. Northern opposition parties draw their support from different Sufi brotherhoods: the Umma Party is closely connected with Arab followers of the Ansar sect, and the Democratic Unionist Party with the Khatmia sect. Opposition parties typically include non-Arab Muslims from the north, east, and Darfur.
Following the civil war, the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) became the dominant political power in the south, and is the main coalition partner with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the GNU. The SPLM draws its support from Southern Christians, but regularly engages with Muslim opposition parties and rebel groups in Darfur and the east.
The Government favored Muslims over Christians in the north in part by funding the construction of mosques but not churches. Many southern Christians living in the north are economic migrants, and due to many factors, they suffer from social, educational, and job discrimination.
The Government prevents foreigners from entering the country expressly for Christian missionary work, but it did permit foreign Christian religious leaders to enter in support of their local congregations. The Humanitarian Affairs Committee routinely expells foreign workers of international aid organizations, although several U.S.-based Christian aid organizations maintain large operations throughout the north.
In November 2007 a British national teaching at a Christian school in Khartoum was held briefly and threatened with imprisonment and corporal punishment for acceding to her students' suggestion to name a class teddy bear after the Prophet Muhammad. Some government officials organized a street protest against the Briton, but President Bashir pardoned her, and several days after the incident she was permitted to depart the country.
In July 2007 a Catholic priest was jailed and held without charges for 3 days in connection with an investigation regarding a Khartoum woman who had planned to convert to Christianity. The priest was questioned about the woman's disappearance until the woman reported she had run away from home.
The ongoing conflict in Darfur between the government-backed Arab Muslim militias (janjaweed) and non-Arab Muslim rebels does not center on religious differences but rather on political, economic, and ethnic issues. The United States declared the situation in Darfur a genocide in September 2004.
Although there was no evidence of forced conversions in 2007, there is considerable social pressure on non-Muslims in the North to convert to Islam. Muslims in the north who express an interest in Christianity or convert to Christianity faced severe social pressure to recant.
Some universities continue to encourage students to pressure women to wear heads carves to classes, although social pressure for women to wear headscarves in public in the north has decreased overall.
Government and Political Conditions
Principal Government Officials
- President, Prime Minister, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces--Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir
- First Vice President--Salva Kiir
- Vice President--Ali Osman Muhamad Taha
- Foreign Minister--Lam Akol
- Ambassador to the U.S.--vacant (John Ukec Lueth, Charge d'Affaires)
- Ambassador to the UN--vacant (Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed)
Solidarity with other Arab countries has been a feature of Sudan's foreign policy. When the Arab-Israeli war began in June 1967, Sudan declared war on Israel. However, in the early 1970s, Sudan gradually shifted its stance and was supportive of the Camp David Accords.
Relations between Sudan and Libya deteriorated in the early 1970s and reached a low in October 1981, when Libya began a policy of cross-border raids into western Sudan. After the 1985 coup in Sudan, the military government resumed diplomatic relations with Libya, as part of a policy of improving relations with neighboring and Arab states. In early 1990, Libya and the Sudan announced that they would seek "unity," but this unity was not implemented.
During the 1990s, as Sudan sought to steer a nonaligned course, courting Western aid and seeking rapprochement with Arab states, its relations with the U.S. grew increasingly strained. Sudan's ties with countries like North Korea and Libya and its support for regional insurgencies such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Eritrean Islamic Jihad, Ethiopian Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Lord's Resistance Army generated great concern about its contribution to regional instability. Allegations of the government's complicity in the assassination attempt against the Egyptian President in Ethiopia in 1995 led to UNSC sanctions against the Sudan. By the late 1990s, Sudan experienced strained or broken diplomatic relations with most of its nine neighboring countries. However, since 2000, Sudan has actively sought regional rapprochement that has rehabilitated most of these relations.
Relations with the United States
The United States is a major donor of humanitarian aid to Sudan, and the U.S. has welcomed steps toward peace in the country. The U.S. also has been a leader in pressing for strong international action by the United Nations and its agencies in Darfur. The U.S. and the international community welcomed the January 9, 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the May 5, 2006 signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), while a series of UN Security Council resolutions in late March 2005 and 2006 underscored concerns about Sudan's continuing conflicts. On September 11, 2006 the U.S. linked improved relations to Sudanese acceptance of a UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur. Since that time, the U.S. has been successful in bringing new economic sanctions against Sudan, as well as ushering in the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007, which mandates the rapid deployment of a joint African Union/United Nations hybrid peacekeeping force to Darfur. (For more, see "End to the Civil War" and "Darfur," below.)
A Review of Relations
Sudan broke diplomatic relations with the U.S. in June 1967, following the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War. Relations improved after July 1971, when the Sudanese Communist Party attempted to overthrow President Nimeiri, and Nimeiri suspected Soviet involvement. U.S. assistance for resettlement of refugees following the 1972 peace settlement with the south added further improved relations.
On March 1, 1973, Palestinian terrorists of the "Black September" organization murdered U.S. Ambassador Cleo A. Noel and Deputy Chief of Mission Curtis G. Moore in Khartoum. Sudanese officials arrested the terrorists and tried them on murder charges. In June 1974, however, they were released to the custody of the Egyptian Government. The U.S. Ambassador to the Sudan was withdrawn in protest. Although the U.S. Ambassador returned to Khartoum in November, relations with the Sudan remained static until early 1976, when President Nimeiri mediated the release of 10 American hostages being held by Eritrean insurgents in rebel strongholds in northern Ethiopia. In 1976, the U.S. decided to resume economic assistance to the Sudan.
In late 1985, there was a reduction in staff at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum because of the presence in Khartoum of a large contingent of Libyan terrorists. In April 1986, relations with Sudan deteriorated when the U.S. bombed Tripoli, Libya. A U.S. Embassy employee was shot on April 16, 1986. Immediately following this incident, all non-essential personnel and all dependents left for six months. At this time, Sudan was the single largest recipient of U.S. development and military assistance in sub-Saharan Africa. However, official U.S. development assistance was suspended in 1989 in the wake of the military coup against the elected government, which brought to power the National Islamist Front led by General Bashir.
U.S. relations with Sudan were further strained in the 1990s. Sudan backed Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait and provided sanctuary and assistance to Islamic terrorist groups. In the early and mid-1990s, Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden, Abu Nidal, and other terrorist leaders resided in Khartoum. Sudan's role in the radical Pan-Arab Islamic Conference represented a matter of great concern to the security of American officials and dependents in Khartoum, resulting in several drawdowns and/or evacuations of U.S. personnel from Khartoum in the early-mid 1990s. Sudan's Islamist links with international terrorist organizations represented a special matter of concern for the U.S. Government, leading to Sudan's 1993 designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and a suspension of U.S. Embassy operations in Khartoum in 1996. In October 1997, the U.S. imposed comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against the Sudan. In August 1998, in the wake of the East Africa embassy bombings, the U.S. launched cruise missile strikes against Khartoum. The last U.S. Ambassador to the Sudan, Ambassador Tim Carney, departed post prior to this event and no new ambassador has been designated since. The U.S. Embassy is headed by a charge d'affaires.
The U.S. and Sudan entered into a bilateral dialog on counter-terrorism in May 2000. Sudan has provided concrete cooperation against international terrorism since the September 11, 2001, terrorism strikes on New York and Washington. However, although Sudan publicly supported the international coalition actions against the al Qaida network and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the government criticized the U.S. strikes in that country and opposed a widening of the effort against international terrorism to other countries. Sudan remains on the state sponsors of terrorism list.
In response to the Government of Sudan's continued complicity in unabated violence occurring in Darfur, President Bush imposed new economic sanctions on Sudan in May 2007. The sanctions blocked assets of Sudanese citizens implicated in Darfur violence, and also sanctioned additional companies owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan. Sanctions continue to underscore U.S. efforts to end the suffering of the millions of Sudanese affected by the crisis in Darfur.
Despite policy differences the U.S. has been a major donor of humanitarian aid to the Sudan throughout the last quarter century. The U.S. was a major donor in the March 1989 "Operation Lifeline Sudan," which delivered 100,000 metric tons of food into both government and SPLA-held areas of the Sudan, thus averting widespread starvation. In 1991, the U.S. made major donations to alleviate food shortages caused by a two-year drought. In a similar drought in 2000-01, the U.S. and the international community responded to avert mass starvation in the Sudan. In 2001 the Bush Administration named a Presidential Envoy for Peace in the Sudan to explore what role the U.S. could play in ending Sudan's civil war and enhancing the delivery of humanitarian aid. For fiscal years 2005-2006, the U.S. Government committed almost $2.6 billion to Sudan for humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping in Darfur as well as support for implementation of the peace accord and reconstruction and development in southern Sudan.
In 2004, the cessation of major north-south hostilities and expanding crude oil exports resulted in 6.4% GDP growth and a near doubling of GDP per capita since 2003. The aftereffects of the 21-year civil war and very limited infrastructure, however, present obstacles to stronger growth and a broader distribution of income. The country continued taking some steps toward transitioning from a socialist to a market-based economy, although the government and governing party supporters remained heavily involved in the economy.
Sudan's primary resources are agricultural, but oil production and export have taken on greater importance since October 2000. Although the country is trying to diversify its cash crops, cotton, and gum Arabic remain its major agricultural exports. Grain sorghum (dura) is the principal food crop, and millet and wheat are grown for domestic consumption. Sesame seeds and peanuts are cultivated for domestic consumption and increasingly for export. Livestock production has vast potential, and many animals, particularly camels and sheep, are exported to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries. However, Sudan remains a net importer of food. Problems of irrigation and transportation remain the greatest constraints to a more dynamic agricultural economy.
The country's transportation facilities consist of one 4,800-kilometer (2,748-miles), single-track railroad with a feeder line, supplemented by limited river steamers, Sudan Airways, and about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) of paved and gravel road--primarily in greater Khartoum, Port Sudan, and the north. Some north-south roads that serve the oil fields of central/south Sudan have been built; and a 1,400 kilometer. (840 miles) oil pipeline goes from the oil fields via the Nuba Mountains and Khartoum to the oil export terminal in Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
- GDP (2005): $22.75 billion.
- GDP annual growth rate (2005): 7%.
- Per capita income GDP (2005): $2,100.
- Avg. annual inflation rate (2005): 9.0%.
- Natural resources: Modest reserves of oil, natural gas, gold, iron ore, copper, and other industrial metals.
- Agriculture: Products--cotton, peanuts, sorghum, sesame seeds, gum Arabic, sugarcane, millet, livestock.
- Industry: Types--motor vehicle assembly, cement, cotton, edible oils and sugar refining.
- Trade (2005 est.): Exports--$6.989 billion: crude oil and petroleum products, cotton, gold, sorghum, peanuts, gum arabic, sugar, meat, hides, live animals, and sesame seeds. Major markets--Egypt, Persian Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, China, South Korea. Imports (2005 est.)--$5.028 billion: oil and petroleum products, oil pipeline, pumping and refining equipment, chemical products and equipment, wheat and wheat flour, transport equipment, foodstuffs, tea, agricultural inputs and machinery, industrial inputs and manufactured goods. Major suppliers--European Union, China, Malaysia, Canada, U.K., Italy, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Persian Gulf states, and surrounding East African nations.
- Fiscal year: January 1-December 31.
Sudan's limited industrial development consists of agricultural processing and various light industries located in Khartoum North. In recent years, the GIAD industrial complex introduced the assembly of small autos and trucks, and some heavy military equipment such as armored personnel carriers and the proposed "Bashir" main battle tank. Although Sudan is reputed to have great mineral resources, exploration has been quite limited, and the country's real potential is unknown. Small quantities of asbestos, chromium, and mica are exploited commercially.
Extensive petroleum exploration began in the mid-1970s and might cover all of Sudan's economic and energy needs. Significant finds were made in the Upper Nile region and commercial quantities of oil began to be exported in October 2000, reducing Sudan's outflow of foreign exchange for imported petroleum products. There are indications of significant potential reserves of oil and natural gas in southern Sudan, the Kordofan region and the Red Sea province.
Sudan is seeking to expand its installed capacity of electrical generation of around 300 megawatts--of which 180 megawatts is hydroelectric and the rest, thermal. Considering the continuing U.S. economic, trade, and financial sanctions regime, European investors are the most likely providers of technology for this purpose. More than 70% of Sudan's hydropower comes from the Roseires Dam on the Blue Nile grid. Various projects are proposed to expand hydropower, thermal generation, and other sources of energy, but so far the government has had difficulty arranging sufficient financing.
The Merowe dam project has received a boost from various Arab funds. The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development donated $150 million, the Abu Dhabi Development Fund $100 million, the Kuwaiti Development Fund $150 million, and the Saudi Fund $150 million. The Sultanate of Oman may finance the dam power plant with $106 million. The Merowe dam, if built, would have a capacity of 1,250 megawatts. It would be built at the Nile's fourth cataract. Egypt has not voiced major objections on the issue of Nile water diversion, which Sudan's hydroelectric project would entail. The estimated total cost of the dam is $1.8 billion.
Historically, the U.S., the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have supplied most of Sudan's economic assistance. Sudan's role as an economic link between Arab and African countries is reflected by the presence in Khartoum of the Arab Bank for African Development. The World Bank had been the largest source of development loans.
Sudan will require extraordinary levels of program assistance and debt relief to manage a foreign debt exceeding $21 billion, more than the country's entire annual gross domestic product. During the late 1970s and 1980s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and key donors worked closely to promote reforms to counter the effect of inefficient economic policies and practices. By 1984, a combination of factors--including drought, inflation, and confused application of Islamic law--reduced donor disbursements, and capital flight led to a serious foreign-exchange crisis and increased shortages of imported inputs and commodities. More significantly, the 1989 revolution caused many donors in Europe, the U.S., and Canada to suspend official development assistance, but not humanitarian aid.
However, as Sudan became the world's largest debtor to the World Bank and IMF by 1993, its relationship with the international financial institutions soured in the mid-1990s and has yet to be fully rehabilitated. The government fell out of compliance with an IMF standby program and accumulated substantial arrear-ages on repurchase obligations. A 4-year economic reform plan was announced in 1988 but was not pursued. An economic reform plan was announced in 1989 and implementation began on a 3-year economic restructuring program designed to reduce the public sector deficit, end subsidies, privatize state enterprises, and encourage new foreign and domestic investment. In 1993, the IMF suspended Sudan's voting rights and the World Bank suspended Sudan's right to make withdrawals under effective and fully disbursed loans and credits. Lome Funds and European Union agricultural credits, totaling more than 1 billion euros, also were suspended.
Sudan produces about 401,000 barrels per day (b/d) (2005 est.) of oil, which brought in about $1.9 billion in 2005 and provides 70% of the country's total export earnings. Although final figures are not yet available, these earnings may have risen to an estimated $2 billion as of the end of 2004. The oil production was expected to reach 500,000 barrels by 2005. With a resolution of its 21-year civil war, Sudan and its people can now begin to reap the benefit from its natural resources, rebuild its infrastructure, increase oil production and exports, and be able to attain its export and development potential.
In 2000-2001, Sudan's current account entered surplus for the first time since independence. In 1993, currency controls were imposed, making it illegal to possess foreign exchange without approval. In 1999, liberalization of foreign exchange markets ameliorated this constraint somewhat. Exports other than oil are largely stagnant. The small industrial sector remains in the doldrums, and Sudan's inadequate and declining infrastructure inhibits economic growth.
Sudan was a collection of small, independent kingdoms and principalities from the beginning of the Christian era until 1820-21, when Egypt conquered and unified the northern portion of the country. However, neither the Egyptian nor the Mahdist state (1883-1898) had any effective control of the southern region outside of a few garrisons. Southern Sudan remained an area of fragmented tribes, subject to frequent attacks by slave raiders.
In 1881, a religious leader named Muhammad ibn Abdalla proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or the "expected one," and began a religious crusade to unify the tribes in western and central Sudan. His followers took on the name "Ansars" (the followers) which they continue to use today and are associated with the single largest political grouping, the Umma Party, led by a descendant of the Mahdi, Sadiq al Mahdi.
Taking advantage of dissatisfaction resulting from Ottoman-Egyptian exploitation and maladministration, the Mahdi led a nationalist revolt culminating in the fall of Khartoum in 1885. The Mahdi died shortly thereafter, but his state survived until overwhelmed by an invading Anglo-Egyptian force under Lord Kitchener in 1898. While nominally administered jointly by Egypt and Britain, Britain exercised control, formulated policies, and supplied most of the top administrators.
In February 1953, the United Kingdom and Egypt concluded an agreement providing for Sudanese self-government and self-determination. The transitional period toward independence began with the inauguration of the first parliament in 1954. With the consent of the British and Egyptian Governments, Sudan achieved independence on January 1, 1956, under a provisional constitution. This constitution was silent on two crucial issues for southern leaders--the secular or Islamic character of the state and its federal or unitary structure. However, the Arab-led Khartoum government reneged on promises to southerners to create a federal system, which led to a mutiny by southern army officers that launched 17 years of civil war (1955-72).
Sudan has been at war with itself for more than three quarters of its existence. Since independence, protracted conflict rooted in deep cultural and religious differences retarded Sudan's economic and political development and forced massive internal displacement of its people. Northerners, who have traditionally controlled the country, have sought to unify it along the lines of Arabism and Islam despite the opposition of non-Muslims, southerners, and marginalized peoples in the west and east. The resultant civil strife affected Sudan's neighbors, as they alternately sheltered fleeing refugees or served as operating bases for rebel movements.
In 1958, General Ibrahim Abboud seized power and pursued a policy of Arabization and Islamicization in the south that strengthened southern opposition. General Abboud was overthrown in 1964 and a civilian caretaker government assumed control. Southern leaders eventually divided into two factions, those who advocated a federal solution and those who argued for self-determination, a euphemism for secession since it was assumed the south would vote for independence if given the choice.
Until 1969, there was a succession of governments that proved unable either to agree on a permanent constitution or to cope with problems of factionalism, economic stagnation, and ethnic dissidence. These regimes were dominated by "Arab" Muslims who asserted their Arab-Islamic agenda and refused any kind of self-determination for southern Sudan.
In May 1969, a group of communist and socialist officers led by Colonel Gaafar Muhammad Nimeiri, seized power. A month after coming to power, Nimeiri proclaimed socialism (instead of Islamism) for the country and outlined a policy of granting autonomy to the south. Nimeiri in turn was the target of a coup attempt by communist members of the government. It failed and Nimeiri ordered a massive purge of communists. This alienated the Soviet Union, which withdrew its support.
Already lacking support from the Muslim parties he had chased from power, Nimeiri could no longer count on the communist faction. Having alienated the right and the left, Nimeiri turned to the south as a way of expanding his limited powerbase. He pursued peace initiatives with Sudan's hostile neighbors, Ethiopia and Uganda, signing agreements that committed each signatory to withdraw support for the other's rebel movements. He then initiated negotiations with the southern rebels and signed an agreement in Addis Ababa in 1972 that granted a measure of autonomy to the south. Southern support helped him put down two coup attempts, one initiated by officers from the western regions of Darfur and Kordofan who wanted for their region the same privileges granted to the south.
However, the Addis Ababa Agreement had no support from either the secularist or Islamic northern parties. Nimeiri concluded that their lack of support was more threatening to his regime than lack of support from the south so he announced a policy of national reconciliation with all the religious opposition forces. These parties did not feel bound to observe an agreement they perceived as an obstacle to furthering an Islamist state. The scales against the peace agreement were tipped in 1979 when Chevron discovered oil in the south. Northern pressure built to abrogate those provisions of the peace treaty granting financial autonomy to the south. Ultimately in 1983, Nimeiri abolished the southern region, declared Arabic the official language of the south (instead of English) and transferred control of southern armed forces to the central government. This was effectively a unilateral abrogation of the 1972 peace treaty. The second Sudan civil war effectively began in January 1983 when southern soldiers mutinied rather than follow orders transferring them to the north.
In September 1983, as part of an Islamicization campaign, President Nimeiri announced that traditional Islamic punishments drawn from Shari'a (Islamic Law) would be incorporated into the penal code. This was controversial even among Muslim groups. Amputations for theft and public lashings for alcohol possession became common. Southerners and other non-Muslims living in the north were also subjected to these punishments.
In April 1985, while out of the country, Nimeiri was overthrown by a popular uprising in Khartoum provoked by a collapsing economy, the war in the south, and political repression. Gen. Suwar al-Dahab headed the transitional government. One of its first acts was to suspend the 1983 constitution and disband Nimeiri's Sudan Socialist Union.
Elections were held in April 1986, and a civilian government took over after the April 1986 elections. There were tentative moves towards negotiating peace with the south. However, any proposal to exempt the south from Islamic law was unacceptable to those who supported Arabic supremacy. In 1989, an Islamic army faction, led by General Umar al-Bashir mounted a coup and installed the National Islamic Front. The new government's commitment to the Islamic cause intensified the north-south conflict.
Meanwhile, the period of the 1990s saw a growing sense of alienation in the western and eastern regions of Sudan from the Arab 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 People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and in some cases, prompted them to flight alongside it.
The Bashir government combined internal political repression with international Islamist activism. It supported radical Islamist groups in Algeria and supported Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Khartoum was established as a base for militant Islamist groups: radical movements and terrorist organizations like Osama Bin Laden's al Qaida were provided a safe haven and logistical aid in return for financial support. In 1996, the U.N. imposed sanctions on Sudan for alleged connections to the assassination attempt on Egyptian President Mubarak.
Its policy toward the south was to pursue the war against the rebels while trying to manipulate them by highlighting tribal divisions. Ultimately, this policy resulted in the rebels' uniting under the leadership of Colonel John Garang. During this period, the rebels 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 civil war. Beginning in 1993, the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya pursued a peace initiative for the 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) that 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 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.
However, by mid-2001, prospects for peace in Sudan appeared fairly remote. A few days before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the Bush Administration named former Senator John Danforth as its Presidential Envoy for Peace in the Sudan. His role was to explore the prospects that the U.S. could play a useful role in the search for a just end to the civil war, and enhance the delivery of humanitarian aid to reduce the suffering of the Sudanese people stemming from the effects of civil war. The terrorist attacks of September 11 dramatically impacted the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Khartoum government. (For "U.S.-Sudanese Relations," see below.)
End to the Civil War
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 regarding 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 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 has 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 community's intention to assist the Sudanese people and support implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement. It also demanded that the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) halt all violence in Darfur.
In keeping with their commitment to the UNSC, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A initialed the final elements of the comprehensive agreement on December 31, 2004. The two parties formally signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9, 2005. The U.S. and the international community have welcomed this decisive step forward for peace in Sudan.
Comprehensive Peace Agreement
The CPA established a new Government of National Unity and the interim Government of Southern Sudan and called for wealth-sharing, power-sharing, and security arrangements between the two parties. The historic agreement provides for a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops from southern Sudan, and the repatriation and resettlement of refugees. It also stipulates that by the end of the six-year interim period, during which the various provisions of the CPA are implemented, there will be elections at all levels, including for president, state governors, and national and state legislatures.
On July 9, 2005, the Presidency was inaugurated with al-Bashir sworn in as President and John Garang, SPLM leader, installed as First Vice President. Ratification of the Interim National Constitution followed. The Constitution declares Sudan to be a "democratic, decentralized, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual State."
On July 30, 2005, the charismatic and revered SPLM leader John Garang died in a helicopter crash. The SPLM immediately named Salva Kiir, Garang' s deputy, as First Vice President. As stipulated in the CPA, Kiir now holds the posts of President of the Government of Southern Sudan and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA.
Implemented provisions of the CPA include the formation of the National Legislature, appointment of Cabinet members, establishment of the Government of Southern Sudan and the signing of the Southern Sudan Constitution, and the appointment of state governors and adoption of state constitutions.
New CPA-mandated commissions have also been created. Thus far, those formed include the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, National Petroleum Commission, Fiscal and Financial Allocation and Monitoring Commission, and the North-South Border Commission. The Ceasefire Political Commission, Joint Defense Board, and Ceasefire Joint Military Committee were also established as part of the security arrangements of the CPA.
With the establishment of the National Population Census Council, plans are anticipated for a population census to be conducted in February 2008 in preparation for national elections in 2009. The CPA mandates that the government hold a referendum at the end of a six-year interim period in 2011, allowing southerners to secede if they so wish. On January 9, 2007, commemoration of the second anniversary of the CPA was held in Juba. During the ceremony, President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir exchanged forceful accusations concerning the delays in the implementation of the agreement. In his remarks, Salva Kiir described the achievement of the CPA as the most important achievement in modern Sudanese history and confirmed that there would be no retreat from the path of peace.
While some progress has been achieved during the last two years, meaningful implementation of key CPA requirements has faltered and relations between the National Congress Party (NCP) and SPLM are at an all-time low. As of October 2007, a lack of progress on issues such as north-south border demarcation, certain security provisions, and north-south sharing of oil revenues threatened to erode the CPA. International attention is refocusing on the CPA as the mainstay of peace in Sudan in response to calls for reinvigorated CPA implementation.
In 2003, while the historic north-south conflict was on its way to resolution, increasing reports of attacks on civilians, especially aimed at non-Arab tribes, began to surface. A rebellion broke out in Darfur, in the extremely marginalized western Sudan, led by two rebel groups--the SLM/A and the JEM. These groups represented agrarian farmers who are mostly non-Arabized black African Muslims. In seeking to defeat the rebel movements, the Government of Sudan increased arms and support to local tribal and other militias, which have come to be known as the "Janjaweed." Their members were composed mostly of Arabized black African Muslims who herded cattle, camels, and other livestock. Attacks on the civilian population by the Janjaweed, often with the direct support of Government of Sudan forces, have led to the death of tens of thousands of persons in Darfur, with an estimated 2.0 million internally displaced persons and another 234,000 refugees in neighboring Chad.
On September 9, 2004, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility--and that genocide may still be occurring." President Bush echoed this in July 2005, when he stated that the situation in Darfur was "clearly genocide."
A cease-fire between the parties was signed in N'Djamena, Chad, on April 8, 2004. However, despite the deployment of an African Union Military Mission to monitor implementation of the cease-fire and investigate violations, violence has continued. The SLM/A and JEM negotiated with the Government of Sudan under African Union auspices, resulting in additional protocols addressing the humanitarian and security aspects of the conflict on November 9, 2004. Like previous agreements, however, these were violated by both sides. Talks resumed in Abuja on June 10, 2005, resulting in a July 6 signing of a Declaration of Principles. Further talks were held in the fall and early winter of 2005 and covered power sharing, wealth sharing, and security arrangements. These negotiations were complicated by a split in SLM/A leadership.
The African Union, with the support of the UNSC, the U.S., and the rest of the international community, began deploying a larger monitoring and observer force in October 2004. The UNSC had passed three resolutions (1556, 1564, and 1574), all intended to move the Government of Sudan to rein in the Janjaweed, protect the civilian population and humanitarian participants, seek avenues toward a political settlement to the humanitarian and political crisis, and recognize the need for the rapid deployment of an expanded African Union mission in Darfur. The U.S. has been a leader in pressing for strong international action by the United Nations and its agencies.
A series of UNSC resolutions in late March 2005 underscored the concerns of the international community regarding Sudan's continuing conflicts. Resolution 1590 established the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) for an initial period of six months and decided that UNMIS would consist of up to 10,000 military personnel and up to 715 civilian police personnel. It requested UNMIS to coordinate with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to foster peace in Darfur, support implementation of the CPA, facilitate the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons, provide humanitarian demining assistance, and protect human rights. The resolution also called on the Government of Sudan and rebel groups to resume the Abuja talks and support a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Darfur, including ensuring safe access for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
Resolution 1591 criticized the Government of Sudan and rebels in Darfur for having failed to comply with several previous UNSC resolutions, for ceasefire violations, and for human rights abuses. The resolution also called on all parties to resume the Abuja talks and to support a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Darfur; it also forms a monitoring committee charged with enforcing a travel ban and asset freeze of those determined to impede the peace process, or violate human rights. Additionally, the resolution demanded that the Government of Sudan cease conducting offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region. Finally, Resolution 1593 referred the situation in Darfur to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and called on the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur to cooperate with the ICC.
On May 5, 2006, under strong pressure from the African Union (AU) and the international community, the government and an SLM/A faction led by Minni Minawi signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in Abuja. Unfortunately, the conflict in Darfur intensified shortly thereafter, led by rebel groups who refused to sign. In late August government forces began a major offensive on rebel areas in Northern Darfur. On August 30, the Security Council adopted UNSCR 1706, authorizing the transition of AMIS to a larger more robust UN peacekeeping operation. To further facilitate an end to the conflict in Darfur, President Bush announced the appointment of Andrew S. Natsios as the Special Envoy for Sudan on September 19, 2006.
In an effort to resolve Sudan's opposition to a UN force, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and African Union Commission Chair Alpha Oumar Konare convened a meeting of key international officials and representatives of several African and Arab states in Addis Ababa on November 16, 2006. The agreement reached with the Government of Sudan provided for UN support to AMIS in three phases--light, heavy, and a joint AU/UN hybrid support operation. On November 30, the African Union Peace and Security Council also endorsed the Addis Ababa conclusions.
International efforts in 2007 focused on rallying support for DPA signatory and non-signatory rebel movements for renewed peace talks, and on finalizing plans for the joint AU/UN hybrid operation. UN Security Council Resolution 1769 was adopted on 31 July, providing the mandate for a joint AU/UN hybrid force to deploy to Darfur with troop contributions from African countries. The UN African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is to assume authority from AMIS in the field no later than December 31, 2007.
Following the passage of UNSCR 1769, a conference was held August 3-5, 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania between key UN and AU officials and delegates from Darfur rebel groups. Many movements' political and military leaderships were brought into the discussion in preparation for earnest peace talks. Peace talks between the Government of Sudan and rebel factions are scheduled to take place in Tripoli, Libya on October 27, 2007.
Relations with the West were improved somewhat in late 2007, when a British teacher convicted of "insulting Mohammad" was pardoned after two days in jail.
- Sudan, CIA World Factbook
- Darfur News Centre, The UN
- National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns
- Slavery in Sudan is real
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