Mutiny in Sudan’s Military
As Sudan morphs into two countries, big problems emerge. One is how to divide the military. As part of the peace agreement of 2005, the army of the north (SAF) and the army of the south (SPLAM)—that had been killing each other for over 20 years—were forced into one, called the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs).
The idea—to keep the peace agreement alive—has failed miserably over the past five years. The armies were to train together as Sudan’s future military force in case the South voted for unity, instead of succession. But the two armies, stationed in Malakal in the border region of Upper Nile state, clashed in both 2006 and 2008, killing scores and causing hundreds of civilians to flee.
Now—after the overwhelming vote by the South to secede—the two armies must
begin the process of pulling apart. The situation is further complicated by the fact that in the JIU stationed in Malakal, many of the southern Sudanese fought with the north during the country’s civil war. Having taken up arms against their fellow southerners in exchange for pay and favors from the Arab-backed government in Khartoum, they are in the awkward position of wanting to return to the South, but as part of the JIU being commanded to redeploy with their weapons to the North. They refused and began firing last Thursday (February 1).
The violence continued through today with the northern and southern factions exchanging heavy artillery fire and tank rounds against each other. At least 50 were killed. The violence in Makalal spread to the towns of Melut and Paloich, the location of Sudan’s most productive oil fields.
By July 9, when southern Sudan is expected to declare its independence, the two armies will have to separate and divide their military hardware—just one of the complicated issues that must be addressed in separating the new entities.