Article from ROAPE Volume 33 Number 110
Comprehensive Peace? Evolving Tension in Eastern Sudan
Eastern Sudan is the site of a little known armed struggle by popular forces against the government in Khartoum, which in turn has been engaged in counter-insurgency and repression there. A complex set of interrelated factors is driving the war: historical grievances, feelings of exclusion and marginali-sation, demands for fair sharing of power between different groups, inequitable distribution of economic resources and benefits, under- development, the absence of a genuine democratic process and other governance issues. &break;The article documents the particular patterns of marginalisation and underdevelopment among the predominant population of the Beja people, whose livelihoods are mainly based on pastoralism. It also shows the patterns of political alienation and the emergence of the Beja Congress as a movement that has given voice to those grievances. Excluded from normal political expression or dialogue with the government and then from the political dispensations that the South gained from its peace agreement with the North, the Congress has made common cause with the Rashaida Free Lions, formed among a smaller group of pastoralists of Bedouin origin and other small groups to form the Eastern Front. Operating from logistical bases on the Eritrean border, the Front has made armed incursions into Eastern Sudan and controls some territory. Pressures from inside and outside Sudan have finally led to both sides agreeing to talks, which have finally started in August 2006 under Eritrean mediation. The prospects of these talks leading to a sustainable agreement are explored.