Tensions Rise as Voting Looms in Sudan

Tensions Rise as Voting Looms in Sudan

On Jan. 9, North and South Sudan marked the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought an end to Africa's longest civil war, but the mood has been anything but celebratory as the two sides proceed toward a referendum over Southern secession.

Long-simmering ethnic tensions in the South are boiling into unrest -- stoked, according to many in the Southern capital of Juba, by a Khartoum government unwilling to contemplate the oil-rich South's seemingly inevitable secession.

A massacre in Warrap state on Jan. 7, that left at least 139 dead and nearly 100 injured, was the latest clash between the two dominant tribes in the South -- the Nuer and the Dinka. While ostensibly due to a dispute over cattle, Sudan watchers say that the clashes have taken on an ominously political bent. Women and children are figuring prominently among the deaths reported in villages around South Sudan, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, which suggests that settling political scores, not stealing cattle, is the primary objective of the raids.

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