Already however, a number of signs suggest that the government's bold attempt at political and military inclusivity won't last long. Many of the now reconciled enemies of the Southern government happen to have significant military forces under their command, leaving a huge margin for troublemaking should alliances falter. And it's not hard to lure many of these leaders away for a price: Since April, there have been three post-election insurrections of note.
Take Tanginye's case, for example. Despite spending most of his life as a bush fighter, Tanginye holds powerful cards in the Southern Sudanese political arena -- and he knows it. When I met him in one of Southern Sudan's provinces, Unity state, he was relaxing riverside near the regional governor's mansion. He boasted of his force strength, emphasizing that his tens of thousands of men are under the control of no army, and loyal to him alone. "I own these guys, and they will do what I tell them to do," said Tanginye. Stories are swirling around Bentiu, capital of Unity state, that Tanginye will leave town with suitcases of cash and swaths of land to enrich himself and his people -- simply for claiming that his men will fight for the south if it comes to that. After the referendum, Tanginye may well find a higher bidder for his loyalty and that of his militia. And there are many men in south Sudan in the same position.
There are other reasons to think that an independent Southern Sudan will struggle to achieve sustainable peace as well. Tribal loyalty bodes against long-term reconciliation, and its role in politics should not be underestimated. If the southern government is not carefully put together after the referendum, including representatives of all Southern Sudan's more than 40 tribes, it risks the wrath of an armed insurgency in one remote corner or another. The marginal populations that wouldn't be represented have in the past found other ways to make their voice heard -- taking up arms in militias like Tanginye's.
Indeed, tribal discontent is already rearing its ugly head. The past year has seen an uptick in armed cattle raiding and deadly intercommunal violence, perhaps in anticipation of how unequally the benefits of peace may be shared among ethnic groups. The southern army's attempts at disarming the civilian population in the run-up to and aftermath of the April elections illustrated how tribal tensions can be exacerbated by the composition of the army itself; various minority groups suspect that they are targeted for disarmament because of their tribe's relation with the majority groups within the army.
Every possible destabilizing factor here is also magnified ten-fold simply by the copious quantities of small arms swirling around. In Unity state, a tank sits ominously outside the Unity state governor's mansion; the governor himself is guarded by boyish looking soldiers who man anti-aircraft assault weapons mounted on pickup trucks. Every sign indicates that the military apparatus may be gearing up for an even bigger, internal fight.
To outside observers of Sudan, it is tempting to believe that an autonomous south would mean an end to the country's long civil strife. But the war on the horizon might not be the one that everyone is expecting.