Who Is Ruling in South Sudan? The Role of NGOs in Rebuilding Socio-Political Order

By Volker Riehl | Go to book overview

Methodology

The study of contemporary scientific sources, archives and the World-Wide-Web is supplemented by conducting interviews with stakeholders such as representatives and officials of INGOs like OXFAM and MHD, regional and national leaders of SPLM-SRRA, and consultants and scholars on the humanitarian and political situation in the study area.

As a representative of the German Leprosy Relief Association (an INGO), I evaluated the Leprosy and TB projects in South Sudan between 1994 and 2000 biannually which took some ten months in all. During this time I was involved in re-establishing a Leprosy and TB control area with mobile control units (projects) ranging from South-Western Equatoria to NorthEastern Bahr-el-Ghazal. I had frequent contacts with INGO-representatives working in the area (especially UNICEF, MSF, WFP, WV), political leaders (Payam, county, regional) and members of the ‘shadow cabinet’ of the SPLM (the Secretaries for Finance and Health), and church representatives (bishops, priests, staff of the Dioceses of Western Equatoria and Bahr-el-Ghazal, and NSCC). I entered South Sudan either by road through the West-Nile Region of Uganda or using the OLS and ECHO flight facilities through Nairobi and Lokichoggio in Kenya.


Analysis

History of the conflict and INGO-involvement

The history of the Sudan even before independence was not entirely characterised by the conflict between the ‘Christian’ South and the ‘Islamic-Arab’ North. The politically significant role of ‘paganism’ as an authentic and equal religious and political force in South Sudan together with Christianity and Islam has been emphasised by Johnson (2000a). Systematic suppression of religious activities, especially when they gained political momentum which went beyond local practice was the scene of Muslim-Pagan confrontation (ibid., 82).

Keen (1994b, 20ff) has shown that a systematic plundering of agricultural crops, slaves, ivory, and mineral resources served vested interests in the North. As early as the beginning of the 19th century this ‘resource curse’ in conjuncture with a failed rural policy of introducing a diversified agricultural production led to significant pauperisation and sustained underdevelopment. The winners and beneficiaries of this exploitation scenario which covered all aspects of goods and services were clearly the economically rich and politically influential in the North. “When the Sudan gained independence… in 1956, economic and political power was concentrated in the central Nile Valley region. The regions in the East, West and South were largely underdeveloped” (Johnson 1998, 55).

Starting with the de-colonisation process and continuing until today, various planned and coincidental political and economic factors resulted in the marginalisation of South Sudan, which led to emergencies, acute famine, and war. … [T]he British withdrew from Sudan without ensuring that political protection for southern Sudanese was in place. (Keen 1994b, 38)

In the South the executive political vacuum left by the British colonial ‘indirect administration’ was refilled with the militarisation of ethnic groups in favour of the GOS's political and economic domination in South Sudan.

The only time of peace for Sudan after independence was between 1972 and 1983 when an agreement between the GOS and the former rebel movement led by Lagu had ensured a regional autonomy for Southern Sudan. One of the main reasons why the regional selfdetermination finally failed was the absence of a well-trained and skilled administration. “The British did not want to develop an educated elite of Southern administrators, since they feared a detribalised and discontented intelligentsia” (Tvedt 1994, 75).

A systematic involvement of INGOs in South Sudan established to tackle complex emergencies and assist development aid began as early as the 1970s (Tvedt 1998, 188). This together with the fact that the rebel movement was not able to build up strong administrative structures in the liberated territories itself (Tvedt 1994, 76) meant that the first and last attempt at self-determination in the history of Sudan failed.

In 1983 the GOS threatened to introduce sharia-law to the country together with drastic political reforms, which put the autonomy of the South achieved by the Addis-Ababa-Agreement at stake. This sparked off the foundation of the SPLM/A led by John Garang and the start of the present conflict.

Self-determination for South Sudan is not a new political claim, but a ‘late, overdue realisation’ which was left behind and unsolved when

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Who Is Ruling in South Sudan? The Role of NGOs in Rebuilding Socio-Political Order
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  • Title Page *
  • Contents 3
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms *
  • Acknowledgement 4
  • Introduction *
  • Analysis *
  • Discussion 15
  • Summary 17
  • Bibliography and Sources 18
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