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The path of South Sudan's political future remains a nightmare

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Added 20th July 2016 06:03 PM

The two leaders have continuously undermined each other despite regional interventions.

The path of South Sudan's political future remains a nightmare

Rev Titus Shem Makuma

The two leaders have continuously undermined each other despite regional interventions.

By Rev Titus Shem Makuma

The political crisis in the South Sudanese capital Juba calls for deliberate and more conscious intervention of both the regional and the international community. It is unfortunate that the two South Sudanese leaders; President Salva Kiir and his First Vice President Dr Riek Machar appear to have lost track of their political and economic roadmap which defines their independence from the north on July 9, 2011.

The two leaders have continuously undermined each other despite regional interventions. They appear to be so self-centered that they do not consider the future of their staggering government and the plight of their people who have been on the run for most of the years. The recurring ethnic conflict cannot allow the people of South Sudan to settle down and engage in viable economic projects.

There is visibly so little socio-economic progress in terms of community and family settlements, farming, trade, education and health sectors and industrialisation. The newly created government of South Sudan has instead tested the bitter pill, resulting from massive destruction of infrastructure and loss of hundreds and thousands of lives. This is a chronological political predicament which calls for God's intervention to restore peace in the region.

Early civil wars
It is noted that the first civil war, from 1955 to 1972, was between the Sudanese government and the southern rebels who demanded greater autonomy for Southern Sudan. The war ended with the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, which granted significant regional autonomy to southern Sudan on internal issues. The second civil war erupted in 1983 due to long standing issues heightened by then President Jaafar Nimeiri's decision to introduce Sharia law. Negotiations between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) of Southern Sudan took place in 1988 and 1989, but were abandoned when General Omar al-Bashir took power in the 1989 military coup d'état. Bashir remains President of Sudan to date.

South Sudan Independence
In January 2005 the National Congress Party (NCP), and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM/A), signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which established a six-year Interim Period to test the viability of a unified Sudan and ensure that peace endured in the country. Notably, at the conclusion of the Interim Period, the people of southern Sudan voted in a referendum determining whether southern Sudan would secede from Sudan.

In April 2010, Sudan held elections meant to pave the way toward democratic transformation. However, instead of encouraging power sharing between the NCP and the SPLM/A, the elections further divided them and there was evidence of fraud on both sides. In accordance with the provisions of the CPA, the people of southern Sudan voted for their independence in the Southern Sudan Referendum on January 9, 2011. Six months later, on July 9, 2011, the six-year Interim Period came to an end and South Sudan became the world's newest country.

Despite South Sudan's successful secession, security in this country remains a challenge for its government and army, with the proliferation of militias, inter-communal violence, and the army itself continuing to threaten the civilian population. The recent fighting has raised fears of a return to the civil war that erupted in late 2013 and broadly ran along ethnic lines, pitting Kiir an ethnic Dinka, against Machar, a Nuer. The conflict killed thousands of people, forced more than 2.5 million people from their homes and left almost half the population of 11million people struggling to find food, water and decent shelter in their own country of origin. It is also unfortunate that the oil production, by far the biggest source of government revenue, has taken a nose dive due to sharp political and ethnic divide. The country's GDP is measured at $9.015 billion (2015); GDP growth rate being -6.3% (2015).

Dr John Garanga liberation struggle
John Garang de Mabior was a Sudanese politician and leader. From 1983 to 2005, he led the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) during the second Sudanese Civil War, and following a peace agreement he briefly served as First Vice President of Sudan from July 9, 2005 until his death in a helicopter crash on July 30, 2005 after it hit a mountain range in southern Sudan. A developmental economist by profession, Dr Garang is widely considered the single most influential person in the history of South Sudan. He fought for the right cause, to liberate his people from hostility in the north. The people of South Sudan and the international community will remember him for his strong principled liberation struggle, despite his autocratic leadership style which created uncertainty about the ideological profile of SPLA. He varied from Marxism to drawing support from Christian fundamentalists in the US.
 
Early civil wars

It is noted that the first civil war, from 1955 to 1972, was between the Sudanese government and the southern rebels who demanded greater autonomy for Southern Sudan. The war ended with the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, which granted significant regional autonomy to southern Sudan on internal issues. The second civil war erupted in 1983 due to long standing issues heightened by then President Jaafar Nimeiri's decision to introduce Sharia law. Negotiations between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) of Southern Sudan took place in 1988 and 1989, but were abandoned when General Omar al-Bashir took power in the 1989 military coup d'état. Bashir remains President of Sudan to date.
 
United Nations intervention

This great security challenge was highlighted by UN mission in 2014, "It's 11million people (12.34 million in 2015) across a country the size of France. How could we promise that we could protect everyone all of the time against everybody?" "We cannot protect those people from being overrun while at the same time doing patrolling in an area the size of France," said Kieran Dwyer, chief of public affairs at the U.N.'s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). The UN chief also stated that it was not their job to stand in the way of the anti-government forces fighting the pro-government forces.  My appeal is that the two South Sudan giants should seriously instruct their field commanders to stop turning their guns on the soft targets.

           
Rev Titus Shem Makuma (PhD candidate)

Organizational Leadership,

Pan Africa Christian University, Nairobi.

Phone: +256 772 652 077

Email: mtitusshem@yahoo.com; tmakuma@gmail.com

Twitter: @tmakuma

Skype: titus.makuma

 

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