The Risk of Exaggeration
Facing Responsibility
Local Settlements

The Sudanese opposition to the National Islarnic Front has both northern and southern elements. The Umrna, Democratic Unionist and Communist parties in the north have settled their differences with Colonel Garang's SPLA for the purpose of overthrowing the NIF and restoring their power bases in the country. Together with the pre- dorninantly northern Sudanese Alliance Forces, the coalition has succeeded in opening a military front on Sudan's eastern border which threatens the regime more directly than before. The 1980s role of the Umma party in accelerating the use of militias and, indirectly, the slavery that resulted, is being overlooked for reasons of political expediency. In the long run, however, the implications of slavery cannot be ignored, whatever government is in power. Top

In the closed circles of Northern Sudan there is a series of unprintable slurs for Sudanese of non-Arab stock, all reflective of semi-concealed prejudice... Vestiges of the slave culture are still reflected in the prejudices that persist in modern Sudan with serious political and economic repercussions. What is abhorrent about slavery is, however, not the loss of liberty, loathsome as that may be, but the denial of worth. And as long as differentiations based on physical and cultural distinctions exist in the minds of people, particularly those who assume a role of national leadership, the potential for antagonism will always be there." 
(Dr Mansour Khalid: The Government they deserve - the role of the elite in Sudan's political evolution) Top


The Dinka and the Baggara will continue to be obliged, by force of geography and ecology, to co-exist and co-operate over land and natural resources in the future. Both groups are threatened by the expansion into their grazing and watering areas of large-scale agricultural projects, often owned by friends of the government. Movement of their herds, essential for their survival, is increasingly restricted by the sequestration of land for businessmen farmers whose bases are in the towns, not the rural areas. Top

The view of Dinka land as ripe for depopulation and takeover, and the implication that Dinka people are fit only to be enslaved, may temporarily distract their Baggara neighbours from noticing how little long-term benefit they gain from the conflict. At present, the imbalances of power between them, in political and military support, 
give the advantage to the Baggara. Religious differences continue to give the Baggara a sense of superiority and justification in their conflict with the "infidel" Dinka, and this is clearly manipulated by the central government for its own ends. Top

At the local level, however, there are signs that some Baggara pastoralists are realising that they, too, are marginalised by the central government, whatever its claims of religious or cultural solidarity. A handful have even joined the SPLA. Not all sections of the Rezeigat and Meseriya are as virulently militant as those who make up the Murahleen, and there is a growing frustration that central government assistance often goes no further than the provision of weapons and vehicles. When land is seized by the Murahleen, whether in Bahr al-Ghazal or Southern Kordofan, it does not go to the fighters, but to the government.Top