News / Africa

South Sudan’s First Year of Independence Mired in Conflict

Southern Sudanese celebrate their first independence day in Juba, July 9, 2011.
Southern Sudanese celebrate their first independence day in Juba, July 9, 2011.
Roopa Gogineni
NAIROBI — Next Monday, South Sudan will celebrate its first year of independence.  Many challenges face the young nation, including an ill-defined and violent border with Sudan, internal conflicts in the Greater Upper Nile region, and a looming economic crisis. 

A year ago today, hopes were high for Africa’s newest nation.  After more than two decades of war, South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan.

Giell Deng, a South Sudanese musician, is looking forward to Monday, the first anniversary of independence.

"It’s one year old, it’s a new nation, so guys they still have the spirit that they are more excited because we have been at war for decades," said Deng.

Though the 21-year war with Sudan officially ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, new battles face the fledgling government in Juba. 

These challenges include an economic crisis, clashes and cattle raids in Jonglei State, and a violently contested border with Sudan. 

In January, Juba shut down its oil production in protest of the taxes levied by Khartoum for use of Sudan’s pipeline.  Before this, South Sudan derived 98 percent of its revenue from oil exports.

Analysts believes that despite austerity measures taken by the government in Juba, the deficit is so great that it may be difficult to pay the salaries of the large and heavily armed military.  Much of the army is posted near the uneasy border with Sudan.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both found serious human rights violations in the new South Sudan.

"Basically we didn’t see a lot of progress in the first year on the human rights priorities.  There has been some work done by the government in the legislature drafting relevant laws, which are important and helpful, but not enough has been done," said Jihan Henry, a New York-based HRW analyst.

A HRW report released in June described a deeply flawed justice system, including large numbers of unlawful detentions and dire prison conditions.

"The very serious intercommunal violence that we saw in Jonglei state earlier this year really underscores the importance of improving accountability mechanisms throughout the country," said Henry. "Not only for mass crimes, and these intercommunal conflicts should be treated as crimes, not only for crimes but also for human rights violations that are carried out by the soldiers and police."

Juba has deployed South Sudan’s armed forces to fight at least seven armed opposition groups in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile states.  Civilian settlements have been destroyed in indiscriminate insurgency and counter-insurgency attacks.  The violence has also exacerbated a food crisis in the region.

Despite the realization of independence, the future of South Sudan is still inextricably linked to that of its northern neighbor. 

The government in Khartoum, now facing frequent protests over high prices, is fighting an insurgency in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states along the border.  The rebel group SPLM-North, which sided with the south during Sudan's civil war, has been fighting for more than a year and has made an alliance with rebels in Sudan's Darfur region.

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have fled to Unity and Upper Nile states in South Sudan, further destabilizing the border region.

"In terms of settling the conflict there, what is absolutely critical today is for the international community to apply diplomatic pressure to the government of Sudan to initiate negotiations with the SPLM-N and as well with the broader coalition, called the Sudan Revolutionary Front," said Jenn Christian, a Sudan Analyst with the D.C.-based Enough Project.

The government in Khartoum accuses the government in Juba of supporting the SPLM-North and its insurgency, frustrating any negotiations between the states. 

At a distance in Nairobi, Giell Deng remains optimistic.  On Monday he is performing in a concert to celebrate the anniversary.

"Though we still have these small crises about the borders, time-by-time we will be okay," said Deng.

The question remains, how much time will pass before the crises are resolved?

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs