Sudan has experienced many internal problems for a very long time. Since the country attained its independence in 1956, there has been no political stability in the entire country. The North and the South have been continuously fighting for various reasons. This problem resulted from an improperly executed transition from the colonial government to self- governance. Studies have also blamed this problem on several specific factors. These factors include traditional authority, poor governance, and marginalisation of some parts of the nation’s population.
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Other factors include religious differences and the scramble for natural resources. Each of these factors has contributed to the political problems Sudan has been experiencing since its independence. These factors led to disagreements between different groups of citizens and the eventual civil conflicts and war. In general terms, poor representation, deprivation of political powers and impunity among leaders were the biggest problems in the politics of Sudan. This paper describes these problems and how they led to the current ailing state of the Sudanese politics through analysing various literature materials about the history of Sudan.
The Question This Paper Answers
Describe the analytical factors, including traditional authority, which affected the politics of Sudan.
Relevance of the Term Paper
This research seeks to establish the origin of the problems that affect Sudan even today. Sudan experienced a serious civil war from 1983 to 2005. The war led to the declaration of Southern Sudan’s independence from North Sudan. Ironically, the citizens of Southern Sudan began fighting against each other only two years after their independence in 2011. A few years later, the International Criminal’s Court signed an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president. The court accused him of participating in the civil war. Hence, this paper is very relevant to the problems both Southern Sudan and Sudan experience today.
The research involved an analysis of information from several written materials. Precisely, written texts provided the information used in this research.
Interpretation of Literature
According to Curles and Rodt, the traditional authority has greatly affected the politics of Sudan (101). Immediately after independence, leaders of the independent Sudan decided to develop a strong government from the natives of Sudan. Hence, the national government had to integrate the traditional authority into its administrative structures (Curless and Rodt 102). The role of this authority was to help the government in managing both the citizens and resources at the local level. However, instead of strengthening the government as the leaders had purposed, the traditional authority radically weakened the government (Curless and Rodt 102).
It caused a big crisis about the sharing of power in the national government. Worse still, it divided the people of Sudan along tribal lines such that each of the tribes wanted to have representatives in the national government (Curless and Rodt 102). The government tried to have every ethnic group represented, but many groups still complained of underrepresentation. Some groups complained that they completely lacked representatives. In the long-run, the traditional authority could not implement the decisions of the national government at the local level (Curless and Rodt 102).
Idris argues that the marginalisation of some groups of Sudanese people was also a big contributor to the political problems that exist in Sudan even today (120). He observes that Sudanese states that lie on the outer side of the country experienced both political and economic marginalisation. The central government gave them very little support (Idris 121). As a result, they experienced many financial, social and security problems.
According to Idris, marginalisation was the main cause of the political tension between the South and the North, which eventually led to the independence of Southern Sudan. People who lived in the southern parts of Sudan staged political protests against their marginalisation before turning them into a civil war. The government hit back at them with violence that led to many deaths. The ICC blamed the president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, for these crimes and asked him to appear before the court (Idris 120).
Apart from marginalisation, religious differences were also among the biggest problems in Sudan (Medani 276). Sudan is a country made up of three different types of religious groups, Muslims, Christians and the traditional African religion (Medani 276). The inhabitants of the Northern part of Sudan are mostly Muslims of the Arab origin while those of the South are mostly Christians and traditionalists.
Due to the demographic supremacy of the Northerners, Islam was the most dominant religion in the entire country (Medani 277). Therefore, the Muslims wanted to impose Islam on all the citizens and make it the state religion. Eventually, the other two religious groups revolted against the Muslims and wanted more representation in government (Medani 277). Medani argues that the conflicts between these religious groups led to the civil war that lasted for more than two decades (278).
Furthermore, the scramble for natural resources in the country worsened the political problems that existed between the North and the South (Faria 1053). Leaders from both the North and the South wanted to control the Darfur region, where the most amount of oil originates. This region was very crucial to the growth of the country’s economy. Therefore, the leaders knew that controlling this region would help them get rich (Faria 1056).
The struggle for the control of this oil region combined with other factors in starting the civil war in Sudan (Faria 1056). The international community could not solve this problem because each of the two conflicting groups could not relent on their quest to have a bigger share of the Darfur region (Faria 1056). Even after the independence of Southern Sudan, the two countries have not fully agreed on how to share the oil from Darfur.
Finally, poor governance and misuse of power were also among the main instigators of the political turmoil in Sudan. This problem was evident in underrepresentation and the lack of equality in the distribution of power among the different groups of people in Sudan (Schomerus 165). The people of South Sudan were the main complainants due to underrepresentation.
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Though, it was logical to give fewer positions to the South due to their small population, this decision disadvantaged them because leaders of North Sudan were in charge of the most important resources in the country. Worse still, these leaders used their powers to favour their friends and undermine the South (Schomerus 165). In the long-run, the Southerners decided to revolt against their leadership. They declared war against the North. As a result, there was widespread insecurity in the country, which later developed into a serious civil war (Schomerus 167).
The research involved studying what different writers recorded about factors that led to the political problems in Sudan. It used five written sources in the analysis of the situation in Sudan. However, written work is not always objective because writers, especially writers of historical events, often write from different perspectives. Some of them may be supporters of a particular side and may not recount historical events as they happened. Such writers may include things that please them or statements that hurt their opponents. Hence, other research methods such as interviews, observation and questionnaires could have given better results. When using these methods, the researcher tries to select the respondents as objectively as possible.
Current research on this problem is about achieving political stability in Southern Sudan and solving the Darfur conflict. The two governments agreed to solve their conflicts by giving the largest share of the oil fields to South Sudan and requiring them to pay transit fees to North Sudan. Nevertheless, there is still some antagonism between the two countries, and researchers are trying to find long-term solutions. The other area where researchers are studying is the modality for ending the war in Southern Sudan. The Southern Sudanese began fighting each other only a few years after their independence from Northern Sudan. Many people attribute the war to power struggles among their leaders. However, researchers are now concerned with establishing the real causes of this war and how to end it completely.
In my opinion, personal interests are responsible for the conflicts, civil war and the eventual independence of South Sudan. Firstly, leaders from both regions wanted more powers than they had. The Non-Muslim leaders felt underrepresented. They shared this feeling with all the leaders of the southern states and other minority groups. Worse still, the traditional authority the government intended to use with the purpose of strengthening its administrative structures also wanted more powers.
Eventually, war broke up when each of these groups decided to fight for the powers. Secondly, the leaders wanted to amass wealth by taking charge of the oil in the country. They knew that controlling the oil-rich Darfur region could help them get rich. As a result, leaders from South Sudan wanted the central government to allow them control the entire Darfur region but the government was not ready to relinquish it. Eventually, conflicts ensued, leading to a civil war that lasted for more than twenty years.
In addition, I believe that dictatorship was among the main causes of the political problems in Sudan. Sudan claims to be a democratic nation, but it does not properly follow the rules of democracy. The president has too much power, which he uses wrongly. For example, he wanted to use his powers to take the entire Darfur region forcefully. Worse still, he has been in power since 1989, and he is planning to vie in the next general election. In total, Omar Al- Bashir has been in power for 24 years. Staying in power for such a period can only be possible when the president manipulates the constitution to favour him. It is imperative that the people of South Sudan protested against this authoritarian government.
Moreover, the South’s quest for independence was not genuine. Their recent inter-tribal war implies that their leaders only wanted to enjoy the political power they would get after the independence. They began fighting as soon as they attained their independence because the sitting president sacked the vice-president and the entire cabinet and replaced them with “his people”. If they genuinely wanted to secede from North Sudan because of poor governance, then they should have tried to avoid the mistakes the Northern Sudan government was committing.
The current political status of Sudan has a very long history. It is a result of very many factors, which are mostly expressions of selfishness. The most notable factors that have contributed to the political disorder in Sudan are the greed for natural resources, political marginalisation of some ethnic groups, religious conflicts and the underrepresentation of some parts of the country. The main resource that leaders wanted to control was oil. This resource is the main contributor to the development of the Sudanese economy. Therefore, leaders from each region wanted to be in charge of the oil producing area.
The other factor that contributed to the political strife was religion. Sudan has three major religious groups, the Muslims, Christians and the traditionalists. The Islamists wanted to dominate the other two religions in terms of representation in the national government. However, the other religions protested against this dominance. Apart from religion, marginalisation also played a role in the political discord and the civil war that began in 1983 and lasted for 22 years. Some ethnic groups felt marginalised by the government. These factors combined in the destruction of the political co-existence in Sudan. The different groups that felt neglected rose against the government, leading to a civil war that eventually brought about the independence of South Sudan.
Curless, Gareth and Annemarie Rodt. “Sudan and the Not So Comprehensive Peace.” Civil Wars 15.2(2013): 101-17.Print.
Faria, Caroline. “I Want My Children to Know Sudan: Narrating the Long-Distance Intimacies of Diasporic Politics.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104.5(2014): 1052-67. Print.
Idris, Amir. Conflict and Politics of Identity in Sudan. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.
Medani, Khalid. “The Horn of Africa in the shadow of the cold war: understanding the partition of Sudan from a regional perspective.” Journal of North African Studies 17.2(2012): 275-94. Print.
Schomerus, Mareike. “War and Politics in Sudan: Cultural Identities and the Challenges of the Peace Process.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 52.1(2014): 165-67. Print.