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Douglas H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars, Oxford, James
urre!" #loomington $ %ndianapolis, %ndiana &ni'ersit! Press" (ampala,
Fountain Pu)li*ations, +,,-. pp +-." )i)liographi*al essa!" appendix"
index" maps. %S#/ ,012+220-3+04 5James urre! Oxford6 %S#/ ,0+2-0
+721.08 5%ndiana &ni'ersit! Press6.
Douglas H. Johnson draws upon his extensive knowledge of the Sudan to seek a broad
explanation of the root causes of what is described on the cover as ‘one of Africa’s
longest and most intractable conflicts’ and one which for some thirt ears has
threatened to break!up this vast countr of man racial" ethnic" cultural" religious"
political and economic differences. He begins with the historical structure of #orth!
South relations which relationship he argues in $hapter % has been misunderstood
and its historical causes ‘ misrepresented’. States& trade ' (slam before %)*+& the
,gptian con-uest and the .ahadia ' internal colonialisms are used to re/ect the
claim that Sudan’s civil wars are the result of colonialism alone. $hapter * however
stresses the impact of 0ritish overrule from %)11!%1234 the pattern of the con-uest '
occupation" #orth ' South and Southern polic were based on the concept of one
countr two sstems" so that after the departure of the 0ritish in %156 it was
impossible to run the countr as one countr one sstem.
$hapter 7 covers the period deals with the period %12*!3*" the rise of #ationalism
leading to (ndependence& how" in the ees of Southerners" the #orthern rulers who
took over from the 0ritish at independence were regarded as new colonialists& and the
outbreak of the first civil war was a result of that Southern disappointment. $hapter 2
which deals with 8he Addis Ababa agreement ' the regional governments %13*!)7
underscores the significance of that agreement but the difficulties encountered in
implementation process. (ssues such as securit& integration& political interference b
9hartoum in the Southern region’s affairs& economic confrontation between
9hartoum and Juba& the borders problem with the #orth annexing parts of the South&
the oil found in the South but exploited b the #orth& the #orth and ,gpt dependent
on water from the South& Dinka domination in the South& political fights in the #orth&
and international pressures on #imeiri. #imeiri’s unwillingness to address Southern
grievances and his unilateral decision to abrogate the agreement in %1)7 resulted in
Southerners taking up arms to fight the government in the second civil war %1)7!5
dealt with in $hapter 5 while the #orthern parties’ political decision to turn Sudan
into an (slamic state increased the momentum of the fight for liberation in the South
between %1)6 to %11%" dealt with in $hapter 6" which shows how the S:;A position
improved as more Southerners /oin in to fight.
<rom $hapter 3 the author then traces the internal conflicts that led on the one hand to
factionalism in the S:;A and on the other the civil war within (slam and which have
meant that ‘=t>he current civil war has intensified in complexit the longer it has been
fought.’=p %*3> 8he internal power struggle within the S:;A leading to the %11% split
into two factions =8orit and #asir > of %11%. $hapter ) discusses the #uer civil war
following the split of the S:;A in %11%. 8he #asir faction" which became known as
S:;A!?nited" has had its own internal power struggle between @iek .achar and ;am
Akol. 8he #uer civil war also saw the traditional #uer!Dinka hatred intensified. 8he
fighting left man killed on both sides.
$hapter 1 deals with multiple civil wars %11%. During this period ‘a network of
internal wars’ were taking place in man parts of the countr& for example" the civil
war within (slam where (slamic factions in the #orth were fighting each other to
install their own brand of political (slam in Sudan. 8he (slamic civil war spread to the
#uba .ountains" Southern 0lue #ile" ,astern Sudan and Darfur. 8he S:;A became
involved in the (slamic civil war in order to defend the non!Arab population in these
areas. (t was successful in the #uba .ountains and Southern 0lue #ile. $hapter %+
deals with the war econom and the politics of relief.
8he author argues =see $hapter %+" 8he Aar ,conom ' the :olitics of @elief> that
‘the civil war has been fought on the ground as a resource war’ =p%5%> and that
civilians ‘have often been treated as a resource to control’. 0oth sides in the war
involve capturing labour and territor. 8he relief agencies were faced with a dilemma!
were the to satisf the demands of the Sudan government" the S:;A or the donor
8hese ten" detailed chapters lead to the conclusion that ‘no single factor can account
for the profound divide now separating the main regions of the Sudan" nor for the
ferocit of the multiple civil wars which pit different parts of Sudanese societ against
each other’ =p.%63>.
(n the final $hapter %% the author therefore turns to the -uestion of Sudanese ideas of
peace and war and the attempts the Sudanese themselves have made to resolve the
conflict& internall as well as through international intervention. 8he author points out
that the internal peace attempts include Aunlit Dinka!#uer conference of %111 which
paved the wa for resolving not onl the Dinka!#uer conflict but other people to
people conflicts in the South. 8his became a model for a grass roots ‘peace
movement’ in the South based on the notion of a ‘moral communit’. Ahile in the
#orth" the (slamic ‘moral communit’ is based on the principle of exclusion. :eace
can onl come with the exclusion of other (slamic and non!(slamic groups. 8he other
internal peace attempt was the so called ‘peace from within’ %116B13 in which @iek
.achar signed an agreement with 9hartoum which promised the South more powers
to run its own affairs. However that proved to be a false promise and @iek .achar
re/oined the S:;A to fight 9hartoum. 8he international interventions to tr to bring
peace to Sudan include the <rankfurt Declaration of Januar %11*" Abu/a % and * and
(CAD =(nter!governmental Agenc for Draught and Desertification> consisting of
,ritrea" ,thiopia" 9ena" ?ganda" D/ibouti" Somalia and Sudan. ?nder (CAD these
countries agreed to mediate a peaceful end to Sudan’s civil war. 8he other peace
initiative was the so!called ;iban!,gptian peace plan of %111. However" (CAD
remains the onl credible agenc charged with the task of ending Sudan’s war and
bring peace to that countr. (t has done well so far in bringing the parties together and
commits them to sign a memorandum of understanding =.D?> in which the agreed
to negotiate until an agreement on all contentious issues is reached.
8he author notes the pressure from the international communit for the parties to
reach an agreement b the end of *++7 but warns against a repeat of the ‘shambles of
independence" when international intervention circumvented the self!determination
process’ in which the people of the South were denied a vote through referendum to
decide for their future. It is to be hoped that those who have been engaged in the on-
going peace talks in Kenya that currently (late 2003) bring hopes for success have
born this in mind. (t was the deferment of the decision to allow Southerners to
exercise their right of self!determination that resulted in the current civil war. #o
peace agreement should be imposed on the people of the South because of interest of
foreign governments seeking access to and exploit its oil. A peace agreement that fail
to address ‘the root causes of Sudan’s civil wars’ will lead to a third wave of civil
wars throughout the countr the end of which will mean man Sudans.
(n conclusion" ( recommend this book to scholars of Sudanese Studies" Africanists"
Diplomats" @elief and Human @ights workers and an one seeking to understand the
root causes of Sudan’s conflict.
haplain Kara !oko"u
#chool of $olitics and International #tudies
%urdoch &niversity' $erth ()*