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Republic of the Sudan and Southern Sudan Overview

Sudan is an amalgamation of two distinct, though still vastly diverse, people groups: the Arabic Muslims in the North and the black Christians (or animists) in the South. No mere religious or racial differences divided these groups, however; the people of the North had for centuries kidnapped people from the South and sold them  into slavery.

Due to this Sudan has been struggled to build and maintain a unified, representative government. With the South attempting to secede and the militarily stronger North pushing an Islamic union, war raged nearly unceasingly throughout the country until the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January of 2005. This was signed by Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's President who has ruled the country since 1989, and the rebel leaders of the South. By this time, Sudan's war had become one of the longest and bloodiest in the world; the U.S. Department of State noted that more than 2 million were killed, while more than 4 million were displaced during only the second of the long wars (from 1983 to 2005). The number of people killed equal the entire population of  Houston, Texas (the United States' fourth-largest city) being slaughtered and more than the population of Los Angeles, California driven from their homes.

The start of the 2010’s saw significant political changes in Sudan. According to the 2005 peace agreement, democratic elections were held in April of 2010 and al-Bashir, despite having had a 2009 warrant by the International Criminal Court issued for his arrest due to war crimes, won the place of the presidency. (Al-Bashir has since been issued a second arrest warrant by the court on July 12, 2010, for ten items, including three counts of genocide.) Salva Kiir, a southern Sudanese leader was named vice president.  Additionally, demarcation between the North and South began with the Abyei region remaining a potential flashpoint. In early 2011 Sudan conducted a referendum which successfully granted the south its independence.  While  Omar al-Bashir has vowed not to stand for reelection in 2015.

Darfur, located on the western border of Sudan, remains the current nucleus of conflict between the central  government and Sudan’s rebel groups. As stated by Jeffrey Gettleman, the New York Times African correspondent and Bureau chief, "It is difficult to boil down the complicated tapestry of actors in the region, especially as rebel movements have splintered and increasingly well-armed criminals have flourished in the seven years the war has dragged on... The conflict was first set off by clashes between nomadic Arab tribes and more sedentary Africans over water supplies. With so many Africans displaced from their lands, the Arab tribes are now fighting among themselves for the spoils, and water resources are even scarcer."  

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the largest of these rebel groups, terminated peace talks in May of 2010, resorting to military action. The government denies any direct targeting of civilians, saying all government action is in response to fighting from the anti-government rebels. Regardless of the accusations of guilt by either side, here in Darfur, the war continues to rage.