By Alex Perry
Sudan enters 2010 poised between war and peace — in Darfur, in its decades old conflict between north and south, and in a host of smaller internal conflicts. The largest country in Africa and home to some of its largest oil reserves, the country faces a general election in April, an independence referendum in the south a year from now, and the indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of its president, Omar al-Bashir, on war crimes charges. Here's TIME's guide to (yet another) year of living dangerously in Sudan:
How likely is a new civil war?
Fairly likely, not least because this has always been a combustible part of the world. Sudan straddles the fault-line between the Muslim Arab world and black, largely Christian Africa and the two sides have a long history of enmity: The first Sudanese civil war lasted from 1955 to 1972 and the second from 1983 to 2005; combined, the conflicts cost more than 2 million lives. Ten aid groups warned this week that 2009 saw a "major upsurge in violence" along the north-south frontier, with 2,500 people killed and 350,000 displaced, and they expressed a widely shared view that such violence is likely to escalate this year to the point of a breakup of Sudan, and a major humanitarian crisis. Rob Crilly, author of the forthcoming Saving Darfur: Everyone's Favorite African War, cautions that aid agencies "have sometimes cried wolf in their attempts to raise funds." But with much of Sudan still controlled by militias, the boundaries of the oil-rich areas between north and south still unresolved, and convincing evidence of large-scale re-arming on both sides, he adds: "At best, the [general election and independence referendum] could ease Sudan along the path towards democracy. At worst, they could herald a new phase of repression, followed by a resumption of war." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>