Sudan’s Third Civil War


When the history of Sudan’s third civil war is written, most will judge that the precipitating event occurred on May 21, when the Khartoum regime seized the contested border area of Abyei. It is a terminus a quo in some ways similar to the Bor Mutiny of May 1983, which began twenty-two years of unfathomably destructive civil war and came to an end only with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Twenty-eight years ago, then-President Jaafer Nimeri sent Colonel John Garang to quell an uprising of 500 soldiers with grievances against the government in Khartoum, in a town in Jonglei State, South Sudan. Garang, however, had prepared the groundwork for the mutiny, which represented above all his broadly supported resistance to Khartoum’s Arabizing and Islamizing of the South’s African and primarily Christian populations. He emerged as the rebellion’s charismatic and visionary leader, and remained so for more than two decades. Eventually his military and diplomatic efforts were crowned with a peace agreement that, if upheld, offered as much as any negotiations could reasonably yield the South.

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