Previous post here The Second Sudanese Civil War
According to Wikipedia, the northern and southern parts of Sudan are pretty close to being different countries. There are racial divides, religious divides, radical differences in geography, and when Great Britain was governing it, they were treated nearly as separate states.
But when organizing their independence from Egypt and Great Britain, the north was given preference. Northern citizens began to dominate southern politics.
On top of that, the south is just better land. They get more rain, and have more water, and most of Sudan's oil deposits are in the south.
In 1983, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was founded. That is an almost direct transcription of the phrasing from the Wikipedia page. At the time, though, they were campaigning for a unified Sudan which respected all its peoples. In 1985, there was a coup, and they suspended the existing (two-year old) constitution and declared an intent to become an Islamic state.
The military council that was formed after the coup turned over power to an elected official, the Umma Party candidate Sadiq al-Mahdi. The Umma Party is an Islamic party, and according to Wikipedia, are centrist. During this time, the SPLA were still fighting. There was a negotiation in 1988, but the Prime Minister refused the peace plan that the SPLA and the DUP (the Democratic Unionist Party) had reached.
At this point, Sudan was officially operating under Sharia law. In 1991, the government instituted a new penal code, the Criminal Act of 1991. It included punishments including amputation and stoning, and though the southern states were officially exempt from them because they were based in Sharia, the act provided for application of Sharia in the south. In 1993, the government replaced the southern non-Islamic judges with northern Islamic judges, and non-Muslims became subject to Sharia law.
And I realize that as a sheltered American this is depressingly weak-willed of me, but I can't go on reading about this right now. I was never very good at history, and this is all just deeply depressing. I'm going to pick back up on the Second Sudanese Civil War tomorrow, for now I'm going to switch over to a look at the current state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
...is currently still dealing with continued fighting in the eastern regions, associated with the Second Congo War, which officially ended in 2003. This is, apparently, the location of the worst war since World War II, and I have literally never heard of it.
Prior to its current name, the country was most recently known as Zaire, which was a one-party state led by President Mobutu Sese Seko, who had the support of the United States, and was guilty of "severe human rights violations." Among other things.
I think I'm going to need to look into some other way of organizing my learning about the history of Africa, because right now it's just shaping up to be a dense listing of paragraph summaries of horrible things. I'll brainstorm that tomorrow, along with finishing up the summary of the Second Sudanese Civil War.