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Published 7th March 2014

Vol 55 No 5


South Sudan

Shooting in Juba, talking in Addis

Salva Kiir Mayardit
Salva Kiir Mayardit

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Regional governments plan to send in troops as pressure grows for a political settlement

As the African Union discusses sending a stabilisation force to South Sudan, there is a glimmer of hope in Addis Ababa, where a new committee from all sides is due to meet on 7 March to tackle the political differences within the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. This is the first time that President Salva Kiir Mayardit has accepted that the roots of the crisis lie within the SPLM, rather than in the claims of a coup attempt by his former Vice-President, Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon. The new initiative, with Ethiopia and South Africa as mediators, came on 5 March, the day after the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) talks stalled, though participants had agreed to resume on 20 March.

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BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Ukraine’s crisis has plenty of resonance in Africa, in terms of how opposition movements can drive unpopular, corrupt regimes from power, even when they are backed by powerful neighbours. Ukraine’s earlier rebellion inspired the name and colours of Raila Odinga’s opposition Orange Democratic Movement in Kenya but now there are other parallels: the use of ethnic alleg...

Ukraine’s crisis has plenty of resonance in Africa, in terms of how opposition movements can drive unpopular, corrupt regimes from power, even when they are backed by powerful neighbours. Ukraine’s earlier rebellion inspired the name and colours of Raila Odinga’s opposition Orange Democratic Movement in Kenya but now there are other parallels: the use of ethnic allegiance to redraw borders.

Some MPs in southern Ukraine are asking Moscow if Crimea can join the Russian Federation, given the shared history and numbers of ethnic Russians there. In the likely event that Moscow agrees, the MPs want a referendum in the region. The new government in Kiev ruled this out as unconstitutional, so a new row looms. Such claims are common in Africa, where despots and terrorist groups have played the ethnic card to threaten the territory of neighbouring states. Think Al Shabaab and its campaign for a Greater Somalia.

This is why the founders of the Organisation of African Unity agreed to recognise the inherited colonial boundaries but to work for continental cooperation. There have been three exceptions. Eritrea, South Sudan and Western Sahara have seen devastating conflicts. South Sudan is trying to hammer out a political deal but Eritrea seems locked in hostility towards Ethiopia, of which it was part until 1995. And despite almost 40 years of UN mediation, Western Sahara is still in a cold war with Morocco and represented as an independent state by the AU but not the UN.

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