World’s Newest State Mired in Violence

South Sudan became the world’s newest state on July 9th when it officially seceded from Sudan. The secession was the outcome of a protracted peace process that put an end to a nearly 40 year civil war (in actuality two civil wars took place with a decade of peace in between (1972-1983) ) that claimed around 2 million lives. Already a very poor and landlocked state lacking basic infrastructure, South Sudan has been working to register voters ahead of next year’s elections that will bring in the first elected government of the new nation. The registration efforts, part of the larger effort to build a strong independent nation, have been severely hampered by outbreaks of violence. The latest instance of violence, an attempted cattle raid that killed at least 40 people, is the latest in a series of violent acts that have taken place within South Sudan and along the border regions, in particular around Abyei, the oil-rich region which both the North and South claim ownership over. Some say the latest violence is being caused by tribal hatreds which have their roots in the civil war, which saw the South internally divided. Others say the government in Khartoum (the Northern capital) have been inciting violence in the South to destabilize its efforts at peaceful independence. The government of independent South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the opposition to Khartoum during the civil war and now the incumbent government, have at least seven rebel movements openly attempting to overthrow it and is conducting counterinsurgency against some of those. The intricate and very violent politics of the civil war continue to rear their ugly head in independent Sudan. What is left to be seen is how the government will tackle building a new nation while at the same time attempting to stave off rebel groups intent on overthrowing the government. More importantly, if the government is able to strengthen the country and establish peace, how much concentration of power in the hands of the SPLM will it take to achieve these results? And what will this power do to the SPLM and to the political system of South Sudan?


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