Sudan Table of Contents
Although based almost exclusively in the three predominantly non-Arab southern states, the SPLM was the most important opposition force in Sudan (see Southern and Western Sudan , this ch.). Most of its early members were ethnic Dinka, and until the late 1980s most recruits into its SPLA were of Dinka origin. The SPLM was strongest where the largest number of Dinka resided, that is, in Aali an Nil and Bahr al Ghazal. Both Nimeiri and Sadiq al Mahdi had tried to exploit historical ethnic tensions between the Dinka and other groups, such as the Nuer and Azande, as part of the effort to contain the spread of the civil war. The RCC-NS, however, tended to view all non-Muslims in the south as the same, and indiscriminately bombed non-Dinka towns and armed the Arab militias that massacred civilians. The human rights group, Africa Watch, reported in 1990 that the kidnapping, hostage-taking, and other activities by militias in the south approached a reemergence of slavery. The effect of RCC-NS policies was to strengthen the appeal of the SPLM in non-Dinka areas, particularly the Azande territory of western Al Istiwai. By 1991 almost one-half of the SPLA forces were non-Dinka, although most of the higher-ranking officers remained Dinka.
Data as of June 1991