• September 23, 2010
  • News & Analysis
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South Sudan President Speaks on Referendum, LRA

On Monday, several of us here at Resolve attended a speech by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who is currently in the U.S. to discuss the upcoming South Sudanese referendum on independence and to attend meetings at this week’s U.N. General Assembly.

The referendum, which is slated to take place in January as a final step in implementing Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, is closely intertwined with the LRA. Levels of LRA violence against Sudanese communities will be one key determinant of whether or not the referendum proceeds smoothly. Additionally, most observers expect that the South will vote to break away from the North; if they are able to do so peacefully, the LRA could lose one of its bases of operations.

However, if there is renewed war between North and South Sudan, the northern government in Khartoum would have an incentive to resume its history of supplying the LRA and using them as a proxy militia in the South. Such a development would give Joseph Kony a new lease on life and likely lead to dramatic escalation of LRA atrocities. Already, there is increasing evidence of contact between the LRA and Khartoum government. Kiir himself expressed concern about the “hidden hand” supplying the LRA.

President Kiir also warned that, although he hopes the referendum next January goes smoothly, there is likely to be large-scale violence if the South’s rights to self-determination are infringed. A renewal of the broader war between the North and South would be disastrous for the region. The last full-scale war, which stretched from the 1980’s to 2005, led to the deaths of at least 2 million people.

The U.S. is stepping up diplomatic efforts as the referendum approaches, and we’ll be paying close attention to how they choose to address the LRA as one component of their broader Sudan strategy. In the meantime, you can check out the important advocacy work being done on this issue by our partners at Genocide Intervention Network, Save Darfur, and the Enough Project.

—Kaitlyn

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