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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
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.

VOA Blogs