Articles and Analysies
The State and Self-determination: South Sudan Case Study By Beny Gideon Mabor-University of Juba, Sudan
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Jun 12, 2010 - 8:35:33 AM

The State and Self-determination: South Sudan Case Study

By Beny Gideon Mabor

University of Juba, Sudan


1. The background of Sudan Civil War and Call for South Sudan Self-determination


Beny Gideon Mabor
The Republic of the Sudan has been at war within itself generally for about four decades throughout her independent period just before the end of colonial administration on January 1, 1956. Four months later before complete departure of the last colonial masters the Anglo-Egyptians, a group of Southern Sudanese headed by Catholic priest turned rebel Rev.Fr.
Saturnino Lohure and others instigated a violent protest in the historical town of Torit, South Sudan on August 18, 1955 against Arabs-Muslim as a rejection of forceful annexation of South Sudan to the North in what they saw to be another domestic colonialism.


   The military uprising spark all over parts of South Sudan and this marks the beginning of first ever civil war in the Sudan with military organised insurgency in the Southern provinces called Anyanya Revolutionary Movement fighting the newly Khartoum administration with principle objectives of liberation against all forms of oppression and demanding their legitimate right for the people of Southern Sudan to self-determination.


   The predominately Christian rebel group in the South continues war of liberation struggle for 17 years with several lost of lives and massive displacement across the regions until a peaceful negotiation was initiated between the two warring parties under the auspices of the then Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and concluded the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement on February 27, 1972 with Nimeri regime and Anyanya freedom fighters that granted Southern Region autonomy with only two organs of government namely the Higher Executive Council and the People Regional Assembly with its capital in the present day Juba, South Sudan. The Judiciary was centralized in the national capital Khartoum with deliberate means to fail the regional government in the rule of law and administration of justice.


   However, the APA/1972 therein established the Law of Self-government for Southern Provinces 1972 as the supreme law of the land that constitutes Southern Provinces to be Bhar el Ghazal Region, Upper Nile and Equatoria respectively within Article 4 of the Act and further empowered with independent Executive and Legislative functions. Nevertheless, the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement offered a relative peace with cessation of hostilities and a breathing space to the long civil strife in the Sudan for 11 years despite the shrinking regional administration that has never initiated any developmental projects in South Sudan

   As time went on, the Khartoum National Reconciliation Conference 1977 which was closely similar to our previous All Sudan Political Parties APPC 2009 was organised by the Northern political forces which politically challenge the APA/1972 to nothing terming the agreement as sell out of the South. With these opposition parties influence and continues political delusion, immediately convinced the then Head of State and government late Col. Jafar Nimeri that the Addis Ababa peace accord is neither Quran nor Bible. The President authoritatively concluded the agreement as man made program that can be dishonour at any time and declared it null and void.


  This led to collapse of the APA/1972 and arbitral dissolution of the Higher Executive Council and the People Regional Assembly from 1981 throughout 1983 as well as unsuccessful attempt to redefine the geographical boundaries between the North and the South leaving rich oil areas around Bentiu, the fertile land of Renk in Upper Nile region together with nickel and uranium deposits all fall into Northern territory, hence consequently caused another serious war with one more armed rebel in the South. This shortly gave birth to Anyanya two movement under military leaders namely Gordon Kong Chol, Abdullah Chuol and Akuot Atem de Mayen respectively upon which they were subsequently taken over  by the populous Ayod mutiny ignited by   Major Kerbino Kuanyin Bol and others on May 16, 1983 as a mere military operations without political wings.


   As a coordinated rebellion with other senior officers in the Sudan Army Force SAF deployed at Southern Command and in Khartoum, the mutineers silently formed the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Movement under leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior with the over all vision of achieving New Sudan based on free will of its citizens with decentralised system of government regardless of color, sex, race, creed and political affiliations. The deadly war waged on for 21 years with death toll not exactly recorded but approximately more than 2.5 million people and double the same got displaced to the foreign countries and the homeless.


   As the war became a win-win game with Khartoum administration following many attempts to negotiate peace deal since 1990s  and also considering the negative impacts of rebel split within ranks and files of SPLA/M  a final round of peace talk was initiated in 2003 between the conflicting parties under auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD that brought the world famous Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA/2005 signed on January 9, 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya between the ruling National Congress Party  NCP on behalf of Sudan Government and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement on behalf of the Southern Sudanese people.

The inauguration ceremony was attended, appends their signatures and witnessed by the international bodies such as United Nations, African Union, Arabs League, the USA, UK, the Royal Kingdom of Norway and a number of African countries Head of State and Government that described the CPA/2005 as the lasting peace to end African longest civil war in the Sudan.


2. Self-determination in International Law


   After conclusion of the CPA/2005, the agreement therefore contain the call for the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan in an internationally monitored referendum on January 9, 2011 which is now six months and two days way for the people of Southern Sudan to determine their political destiny whether to remain in a united Sudan or create an independent state. Before I embark on this political issue, I am writing to seek legal conditions in international legal frameworks on the aspect of right to self determination in Southern Sudan. This would include the CPA/2005 upon which South Sudan independence claims are primarily based.


   In addition, the following international legal instruments and questions need to be discussed speaking on the right of self-determination where applicable to the situation in South Sudan such as the 1960 UN declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and people; whether the population of Southern Sudan should be able to a successful claim to self-determination if any, for defence of people and territory against any external aggression, control national economy, taxation and finally whether South Sudan formed a separate geographic units  with a shared history unlike rest of the Sudan and if the answer is in affirmative then there is genuine claim to self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan. And if it is negation then the unity of the Country is the option to avoid collapse of national integrity.


3. Conclusion


   After careful notice of the different findings surrounding claim to self-determination for the people of Southern as they have exhaustively explained series of marginalization by the Arabs dominant in the North from day one of our independence that they have not since creation hold a post of Head of State and Government and that they have never been adequately represented in all form of institutional obligations; the above international legal prerequisites must be fulfilled to achieve independence.



   Finally, the possible and remedial action to the conflict in South Sudan is to immediately call international community to step in the due processes of South Sudan referendum on time without let or hindrance, provided that it can be accomplished in a relatively safe and fair manner unlike the April 2010 gubernatorial election where electioneering malpractices occurred nation wide and went missing unquestionably. The people of Southern Sudan should be allow to freely determine their future destiny and if they vote for separation then the two sisterly state will still maintained their bilateral relations more then any other nations in the world.







Beny Gideon Mabor is an Independent Opinion Writer and can be reached at [email protected]

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