The elephants in the palace
As the world trade system went through a structural crisis in the 1970’s, like many developing countries, Sudan experienced unfair terms of trade at the international level. Exporting more and buying less. Rural peasants and pastoralists who could not afford the price of food at local markets carried the brunt of the economic suffering. To avert the political ramifications of the economic downturn, the government of Sudan embarked to exploit resources in autonomous Southern Sudan including the exploitation of oil, water and land, but with the profits going mainly to the Northern Sudanese elites.
At the same time, Southern Sudanese advocates of regionalism in the autonomous region on the one hand and northern Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood demanding an Islamic state on the other inadvertently provided the context for the Sudanese Dictator Ga’afar Nimeri to repeal the 1972 Addis Ababa accord. An agreement he crafted and signed in recognition of the aspirations of the Anya-Nya movement and granting autonomy to the people of Southern Sudan.
When the SPLM/A rebellion begun in the Town of Bor of ALL PLACES, the message it sent was a Dinka frustration with the regionalism and re-division policy decreed by Dictator Ga’afar Nimeri. It obviously contradicted the articles of the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement, but it had widespread support well across the Equatoria Region and in some parts of both Upper Nile and Bahr Al Ghazal regions.
As Dr Justin Ramba recalls, then something significant happened. Ga’afar Nimeri miscalculated the whole lot. He chose to create a new alliance with the Islamist groups of late Dr Hassan Abdalla Al Turabi and the Sufi Sunni Al Mahdi dynasty of the UMMA Party as represented by Imam Sadiq Al Mahdi. Intentionally or not, he had isolated the real base of the Anya Nya Movement and the aspirations that led to the historical mutiny of Torit on 18th August 1955, no choice but to either come up with a rebellion of its own or tactically join hands with the Dinka Dominated SPLA/M. The latter option prevailed, and the rest is now history .
During the renewed 1983 – 2005 civil war, Northern Sudanese elite and a small but significant number of Southerners cashed in on the resource base of the South while the social structures that supported the majority of Southerners unravelled and broke down. Social protection in fragile states is significant because it can achieve the dual objectives of tackling economic fragility and social vulnerability (AfDB 2013).
In 2003, the civil war and the international isolation of Sudan once more impeded the economic growth of the country, especially in the non-agricultural sectors. Sudan became the world’s largest debtor to the IMF in 2003, with arrears of over $1 billion. Total foreign debt exceeded $24 billion, and high inflation put consumer goods beyond the reach of most people. It was decision time once again.