Sudan was unstable even before the south seceded. Now Khartoum has lost three-quarters of its oil, and inflation at 45 percent is causing pain for ordinary Sudanese. Activists encouraged by revolutions in neighboring Libya and Egypt have staged small but regular protests against the government, though Sudanese security forces have so far kept them down.
More crucially, the loss of the south has exacerbated political splits within the government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who came to power in a coup in 1989. The country's rulers, who ushered in a hardline religious state, are struggling to keep competing factions happy. Religious preachers feel Bashir, 68, has abandoned the soul of his coup, citing as evidence the secession of the Christian-dominated south. Mid-level and youth activists in Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) want a louder voice. And army officers feel the president is still making too many concessions to the south.