A State of Contradiction: Sudan’s Unity Goes South

Schomerus, Mareike; Vries, Lotje de


South Sudan’s secession was either an unavoidable outcome of a post-colonial betrayal of political promises or a surprising result of muddled and contradictory developments during which, at crucial points, dynamics nonetheless aligned. It was, this chapter argues, because of these contradictions that South Sudan came into being: from its colonial past through a series of rebellions with competing ambitions, via the contradictory 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (that supported both Sudan’s unity and southern autonomy), to the internationally-supported independence referendum. Lack of clarity about whether or not the leaders of South Sudan pursued secession ultimately made its achievement possible. The most tragic contradiction is that in the process of creating South Sudan, its leaders replicated the political marginalization from which their country had sought to escape.