Historians usually trace the start of the first civil war in the Southern Sudan to the Torit mutiny of 1955. However, organized political violence did not reach the level of civil war until 1963. This article argues that 1955–62 was a period of increasing political tension, local low-intensity violence, and social and economic stagnation. It shows how these conditions influenced the attitudes of government officials, informed the policies that they pursued, and made a Southern insurgency likely. This historical analysis helps explain why a full-scale civil war began in late 1963 and why it was not avoided.
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