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Birth of a nation

"Birth of a nation" Continued...

Issue: "Orphaned no more," July 30, 2011

Some of those in most immediate danger are Sudanese who are loyal to South Sudan but now live north of its border. In the state of South Kordofan Sudan's military has heavily bombed the region, home to members of the Nuba ethnic group, mostly Christians who sided with South Sudan during civil war. Amar Amoun, a local military official loyal to the South, described the attacks to The Independent: "They are not bombing our military, they are bombing our civilians and terrorizing our people."

Both the South's forces (also known as SPLA) and the North's SAF have bases in South Kordofan, and observers say SAF incursions to disarm the SPLA have led to the conflict that has displaced 75,000 people, according to UN estimates. The SAF has cut off to aid workers and journalists most areas of fighting, leaving reports of dead and ongoing atrocities unverifiable.

On July 13, Ashworth reported, "I have just this minute talked to three Nuba, including one very old friend, who found their way separately to Juba with firsthand news of [the South Kordofan towns of] Kauda, Kadugli, and Dilling. All confirm that the targeting of Nuba and suspected SPLM sympathizers is continuing."

Ashworth's contacts report that it is government-supported Arab militias rather than SAF soldiers who are searching vehicles and removing suspected Southern sympathizers along the roads. "The Nuba report that they don't even feel safe in Khartoum," he said.

Like South Kordafan, Blue Nile state also faces uncertainty. It too joined South Sudan's SPLM in fighting the North during civil war, and both received special status under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. But negotiations to establish political and military protocols in the contested areas have never been finalized. That means the states include unreconciled fighting forces from North and South: "We have over 55,000 forces which were part and parcel of the SPLA and they are sons and daughters of the two areas," said Blue Nile Governor Malik Agar, who spoke to reporters in Juba the day after the independence celebrations. "There will be resistance [to disarmament] and then there is going to be war in the two areas and possibly in the whole of Sudan."

Agar is a veteran all the way back to the early days of the civil war, a Muslim and a Northerner who became a steady ally of the South and comrade in arms to Garang, a Christian. I once met Agar in his heavily guarded SPLA compound in Blue Nile, a rebel commander operating on the run. Now he is the duly elected governor of a contested state whose allegiances lie on both sides of the new border. Whether he can officiate as a civilian head of state or as a commander on the run will say much about the future of Sudan and its neighbor, the Republic of South Sudan.

-with reporting by Jamie Dean


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