Santschi (2010). Between Community and Government Traditional Authorities in Post Conflict South Sudan
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After more than two decades of violent confl ict in Southern Sudan between the Northern-based government of
Sudan1 and the Southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army / Movement (SPLA / M)2, the two parties in confl ict signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. The Southern Sudanese will decide on independence in a 2011 referendum. During the current transition period, Sudan follows a one-country, two-systems policy which grants Southern Sudan wide-reaching autonomy, this area being governed by the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS, dominated by the SPLM). During the war between the North and the South, some parts of Southern Sudan were under the control of the Sudanese government army, while other areas were controlled by Southern Sudanese rebel movements. The former rebel organisation SPLA is now the army of Southern Sudan and its political wing, the SPLM, is the most infl uential political party in the South. In a fragile political context, new executive, legislative and judiciary institutions are in the process of being set up in Southern Sudan.
In post-conflict settings, administrative structures are not installed in empty spaces. Rather, a variety of actors and strategic groups negotiate public authority, statehood and access to resources (Hagmann and Péclard 2010). This is the case in Southern Sudan: Different layers of former government institutions, traditional authorities, youth, women’s groups, political parties, NGOs, returnees and kinship networks are all engaged in current political dynamics. My research in Southern Sudan aims at studying the ways various actors are involved in the post-confl ict transformation process in «local political arenas», which Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan (1997: 441) define as «complex political confi gurations » where a variety of actors negotiate authority and statehood. In my dissertation project I look at the resources and repertoires (Hagmann and Péclard 2010) these actors apply in Aweil East county, Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state, a region mainly inhabited by Dinka, the major ethnic group in Southern Sudan.