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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs