South Sundan has some serious economic problems. Much of this is the result of low literacy rates (and poor education in general), scanty infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, and sewage systems), and declining foreign investment. Although the South Sundan government officially welcomes and encourages foreign investment, the reality is that the rampant corruption and widespread lack of law and order not only scares off investors but is chasing away the few that are already in South Sundan. The corruption is particularly difficult because after decades of civil war many of the rebel fighters want to get paid and are not too concerned with how they go about that. This greed has also led to more crime against aid organizations, which is casuing many foreign aid workers to stay away.
October 14, 2013: The U.S. confirmed that it has not provided any financial support for the Abyei referendum being organized by the Dinka Ngok. The U.S. was responding to reports that a Dinka group had sought American help in conducting a referendum to resolve the Abyei region’s status. The referendum is now being referred to as the unilateral referendum. Originally the African Union suggested conducting an Abyei referendum in late October, in order to forward the peace process between Sudan and South Sudan. Abyei is the most dangerous border dispute between the two Sudans. Sudan refused to participate and argued that the vote registration process was unfair to the pro-Sudan Misseriya tribe. The pro-South Sudan Dinka Ngok, however, have decided to proceed anyway. The Abyei region is traditional Dinka Ngok territory. During the long civil war many Dinka Ngok fled south and the semi-nomadic Misseriya asserted control of the region. However, the Dinka Ngok have returned and are once again a majority of the population in the region. A Misseriya spokesman declared that the tribe would reject the result of any referendum held by the Dinka Ngok, and one Misseriya faction has threatened to go to war with the Dinka. As the old sayings go, “we stole it fair and square and possession is nine-tenths of the law.” The original Abyei referendum specified by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was to be held in 2011.
October 13, 2013: Gunmen ambushed a peacekeeper convoy, killing three Senegalese soldiers. It was unclear who the attackers were, as peacekeepers are subject to attack by pro-government militias, some rebel groups, and the growing number of bandits in the region.
October 12, 2013: Gunmen in Sudan’s Darfur region killed a Zambian soldier who was serving as a military observer with the UN-African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force. The Zambian soldier was killed in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.
October 11, 2013: At least two-thousand and five-hundred new refugees have fled Sudan’s South Kordofan state and entered South Sudan’s Upper Nile state recently. The refugees fled from fighting going on in the Warni and Kau-Nyaro areas in South Kordofanand, most had been walking for five to ten days.
October 9, 2013: While the Sudan government claims that only seventy people have been died in the government’s crackdown on anti-government demonstrators, other witnesses say over two-hundred and ten people have been killed in Khartoum alone and eight-hundred people have been arrested. Most of the dead were killed by gunfire.
October 8, 2013: Despite the savage tactics used by the police, another hundred or so protestors demonstrated in Sudan (Khartoum). The Sudanese government claims that only seventy people died since the government began cracking down on anti-government demonstrations in late September.
October 4, 2013: Several more demonstrations broke out in Khartoum. In the largest one about five-hundred people protested the government’s violent attack on Sudanese citizens who were demonstrating against the increasingly desperate economic conditions.
October 3, 2013: South Sudan said that the Abyei question needs to be resolved and urged that Sudan agree to conduct a referendum some time in October. South Sudan indicated that if the referendum gave South Sudan control of the region, South Sudan would support the Misseriya tribe’s rights to water and pasturage in Abyei. South Sudan also asked Sudan to help stop Misseriya tribespeople from taking control of land in areas the International Court of Arbitration has determined belong to Dinka Ngok chiefdoms.
October 2, 2013: The United People’s Front for Liberation and Justice (UPFLJ), a resistance group based in eastern Sudan, has joined the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF). The SRF is an umbrella group for opposition groups and anti-government insurgents in Sudan. The UPFLJ is a faction of the East Front rebel group. The East Front’s mainline organization signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in 2006.
Some two-hundred SSLM (South Sudan Liberation Movement) rebels have surrendered in Unity state, after losing their commander (rebel general Oyuok Ogot).
October 1, 2013: South Sudanese rebel commander David Yau Yau may be considering a new offer to negotiate with the government of South Sudan. South Sudan has offered amnesty to rebel groups who will agree to end their insurgencies. Yau Yau is reportedly interested in negotiating a ceasefire agreement.
September 30, 2013: Police in Omdurman fired tear gas at a demonstration by some two-hundred women at the Ahfad University for Women. The women were protesting the end of fuel subsidies.
Sudan reiterated that it is completely opposed to holding a referendum in Abyei. Meanwhile, Sudanese diplomats at the UN are claiming that the UN Security Council has failed to pass a resolution which would have supported conducting an Abyei referendum without the consent of Sudan.
The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N), the main rebel group in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, announced that it is ending its unilateral ceasefire with the government.
September 28, 2013: Sudan announced that around five-hundred-thousand families will receive a cash subsidy to offset the rise in fuel prices. Beginning September 29th it will subsidize cooking gas. The announcement came after members of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) asked Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to end the new austerity measures. Meanwhile, police used teargas to disperse a crowd of some 3,000 people. The crowd had gathered at the funeral of a demonstrator who was killed by security forces
September 27, 2013: Sudanese security forces continued to crackdown on demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan, including Port Sudan an Omdurman. The protestors claim that government police and internal security troops have killed several dozen people. The government denied the allegations and claimed that the security forces had not over-reacted. Government officials claimed the crowds incited violence, threw stones at the police, and provoked the security forces. Police sources claimed that demonstrators in the Khartoum’s Karari and Ombada districts plundered retail stores. The protests began September 23rd when the government ended fuel subsidies. Gasoline prices immediately spiked. Widespread protests on September 24th in Khartoum brought the city to a standstill. Police reported that several thousand protestors in Khartoum rioted and set fire to an estimated twenty gasoline stations. In an effort to keep the protests from spreading, the government shut down the internet (our at least tried to) on September 25th. The government said that the subsidy cuts were necessary because it no longer receives oil royal revenue from oil fields now controlled by South Sudan. The government faces a $2.5 billion deficit.