News / Africa

South Sudan Struggles in Its Infancy

South Sudan Struggles in Its Infancy
South Sudan Struggles in Its Infancy
Nico Colombant

Six months after the exuberance of independence, South Sudan is struggling with major challenges, including recurring internal violence, large scale corruption, daunting security sector reform and growing disputes with Sudan to the north.

Deadly clashes between rival communities in Jonglei state in recent weeks have displaced tens of thousands of civilians and killed a yet to be determined number of people. The clashes followed similar violence in the same state in August, just weeks after South Sudan came into existence.

Eric Reeves, a Sudan researcher at Smith College, says it has been an extremely difficult beginning, in terms of security. “The situation is rather grim and for a number of reasons, some of them have to do with the ethnic rivalries we have seen on display in gruesome fashion in Jonglei and elsewhere in South Sudan.  The renegade rebel groups like the South Sudan Liberation Army supplied by Khartoum have also proven very destabilizing," he said.

For its part, Sudan’s government has accused South Sudan of funding and arming cross-border former Sudan People’s Liberation Army fighters.

Former leaders from the SPLA, which fought a two-decade civil war against Sudan, now head the South Sudanese government in Juba.

The two governments have been unable to make progress on several outstanding issues that peace deals and the official breakup failed to fully address. One is how to share oil revenue, which comes from South Sudan but transits through Sudan.

Analysts agree that issue will be very complicated to resolve. But they say there also are pressing issues over which officials from South Sudan could take more control.

Jonathan Temin, from the United States Institute of Peace, says he would like to see officials instill more national pride. “One of the greatest challenges South Sudan faces now is defining itself and creating a greater sense of what it means to be South Sudanese.  As in many parts of Africa, people in South Sudan tend to identify first with their ethnic group and only second or third with their country, and particularly when the country is as new as South Sudan is, it is a particular challenge," he said.

J. Peter Pham, the Africa director for the Atlantic Council, says creating development, infrastructure, economic growth and opportunity is also extremely crucial.

He would like to see more emphasis on agriculture. “We are talking about a country that is 80 percent arable, well watered, yet less than 10 percent of that space that could be dedicated to agriculture is actually even farmed," he said.

A Sudan and South Sudan expert at Fordham University, Amir Idris, is fearful for South Sudanese if economic and social issues are not addressed quickly. “This cycle of violence will continue and South Sudan will suffer from that, and the SPLA itself might fragment along ethnic lines and that is going to create a serious problem for both the government of South Sudan and the international community," he said.

The international community, including the U.S. government, pushed hard diplomatically for ending the civil war and bringing about the creation of South Sudan.
Idris says he believes too much emphasis is now being put on the capital, Juba, and the country’s government structure, rather than effective nation building.

South Sudan analysts say they also worry about reports of large scale corruption among government leaders and how outside aid may not be benefiting most South Sudanese. They say they fear this also could lead to more infighting.

You May Like

US Companies Pledge Action on Climate Change

Goals include reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent, reducing water usage by 80 percent, and buying 100 percent renewable energy

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

UNICEF: Hidden Epidemic of HIV Among Adolescents

Researchers warn that Asia Pacific nations facing sharp rise in incidence of HIV among adolescents

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs