On Saturday, thousands of Southern Sudanese gathered to celebrate their independence, after decades of incessant civil war. Yet the future may yet yield renewed conflict, as Sudanese president Omar Bashir has declared that the disputed Abyei region may provoke further violence between North and South.
With reports of renewed rebel activities in the North, it seems likely that President Bashir is now attempting to reassert his authority in North Sudan in an attempt to isolate his enemies in that region. Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the ICC, is hardly a trustworthy actor, as evidenced by reports of renewed, ‘Darfur-style’ violence in South Kordofan last month, on the northern side of the new border.
It is clear that going forward, the international community must stand against a renewal of the kind of state-sponsored violence against civilians which has characterized Bashir’s bloody reign, and work with the new government of South Sudan to ensure the responsibility to protect civilians is respected.