Africa Matters is a blog that follows the news and offers analysis of African affairs. Our aim is to delve deeper into the issues of African politics and development. We don’t presume to be experts, and we don’t presume to have all the answers—we are just trying to ask the right questions.

Tuesday, June 26

Sudan roundup

Danna Harman's piece in today's Christian Science Monitor has two parts. The part referred to in the headline is an interesting story - though one that's been told a lot recently - of China's role in propping up the Sudan regime and its modest but growing diplomatic efforts on Darfur. The article opens, however, with a perhaps more fascinating story, but one that hasn't gotten anything like the attention it merits: that while things are fairly calm right now, the North and South appear to be headed on a collision course towards renewing the civil war that ended in 2005. Unless something dramatic happens, the South seems almost certain to choose to secede in a 2011 referendum, and the North seems unlikely to let the South, with the oil it controls, go. Plenty of people are aware that this scenario is more than a distinct possibility, but few have actually been discussing what to do about it. The piece also describes how despite profit-sharing provisions for Sudan's oil, much of which lies in the South, there is little transparency, and the South's share seems to have dropped over the past few months. Unfortunately Harman focuses less on this story than the China angle, but credit to her for highlighting it.

In other news:

  • In the L.A. Times, David Rieff examines the division over what to do in Darfur that has emerged between the human rights advocates and the Save Darfur Coalition on one hand, and humanitarian organizations on the ground on the other. As Rieff points out, this case of" good vs. good" is a division that has emerged in previous debates over humanitarian intervention as well - including in Bosnia and Afghanistan.
  • The Economist looks at Sudan's oil boom, but cautions that the outlook may not be as rosy as official pronouncements suggest.
  • France hosted an international conference on Darfur over the weekend. While the event managed to make friends of Paris and Washington, the conference didn't produce much progress on the crisis. Condi Rice also repeated her assertion that Khartoum's "history" of backsliding on deals means the international community should keep up the pressure.
  • A new report from the United Nations Environment Program warns that Sudan must address environmental challenges in order to achieve peace.
  • The AU has extended the mandate for its peacekeeping mission through the end of the year. China said it will send over 200 engineering troops, as part of "Phase II" of the agreement for a UN-AU joint mission.
  • The leader of an SLM rebel faction was killed. The leader of another SLM faction, Ahmed Abelshafi, is in London meeting with the leader of another rebel faction, the SFDA.
  • South Africa disapproves of imposing sanctions on Khartoum.
  • Progress on a peace deal signed between Khartoum and rebels in Sudan's East has stalled.
  • The cellphone company Celtel plans to expand its operations into Sudan.