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Rains cool off war in South Sudan (+video)

The six month rainy season gives time for Sudan and South Sudan to make progress in resolving differences. But the wet weather will strain the sanitation systems in refugee camps.

By Scott BaldaufStaff Writer / May 16, 2012

South Sudanese returning from Khartoum sail on a barge as they arrive at the port in South Sudan's capital Juba on Wednesday, May 16.

Adriane Ohanesian/Reuters


The onset of rains may accomplish what senior diplomats and elder statesmen have been unable to achieve: an end to fighting between Sudan and South Sudan.

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Will North and South Sudan resolve their differences?

When the six-month long rainy season comes to this part of the semi-arid Sahel region of Eastern Africa, hard meandering dirt roads become muddy and impassable. Troop trucks and tanks stay where they are, largely to prevent getting stuck up to the axles in mud. In a part of the world where asphalt roads exist only in the posh parts of larger towns, rainy season brings a natural halt to all traffic, warlike and otherwise.

Fighting doesn’t stop entirely, of course, and six months may not be enough time for these two sides to come up with compromises that they couldn’t come up with during the past seven years of relatively peaceful coexistence in the coalition government of a then-still-unified Sudan. But the respite is welcome.

As South Sudan Brig. Gen. Abraham Jongroon Deng told the Associated Press, “They relax and we relax. We wait until December. It will stop the war.” 

The troubles go back nearly 30 years to the outbreak of civil war between north and south Sudan, when rebel leader John Garang launched a rebellion against Khartoum for what he regarded as neglect and discrimination of the Christian and non-Arab tribes of the south by the Arab-dominated north. A 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement gave some breathing space for the two warring sides to share power in a unified government, but old animosities lived on through internal squabbles, and in January 2011, South Sudanese citizens voted overwhelmingly to secede from the north. When the countries did separate, in July 2011, South Sudan ended up with nearly three-quarters of the unified Sudan’s oil reserves.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the African Union's appointed mediator in the Sudan crisis, is due to arrive in Khartoum tomorrow to restart the peace process, but South Sudan's lead negotiator, Pagan Amum told Agence France Presse that Khartoum was stalling its return to the peace table. 


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