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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid