Sunday, January 12, 2014

South Sudan – A nation in crossroads

South Sudan may be the youngest nation in the world. However, recent actions by her political and military leadership shows that, the entity which we call ‘South Sudan’ is far from anything called a nation. 

It’s not unprecedented that a Vice President want to become a President. I think almost all VPs would like to become president one day. What came next in South Sudan - even though not unprecedented – was not expected from the leaders of this young nation.

For the record, following the problems between the President Salva Kiir and his VP Riek Machar, continuous violence become (I can confidently say once again) part of South Sudan’s daily life. 

There are multiple factors acting in this situation,

1. Riek Machar – Vice President – is from Nuer tribe. Forces under his command control parts of Jonglei and oil rich Unity state. 
2. Salva Kiir – President – is from Dinka tribe (different form that of Vice President). He is backed by neighbors, well supplied and controls other seven states. 
3. Uganda – Sided with Kiir and sent troops to South Sudan. They already control Juba airport and bombed rebel positions. According to some reports, Uganda is looking for oil pipeline contracts - where oil from South Sudan will reach Indian Ocean ports through their country instead of the proposed route passing through Kenya. 
4. Sudan – Not part of this conflict as of now. This country is in a perilous position. Their economy is dependent on royalties earned from South Sudan’s oil passing through their land. 
5. Ethiopia – An influential neighbor but still recovering from the loss of her powerful leader Meles Zenawi. Not in a position of powerful bargains.

Violence already displaced more than 1,80,000 people. Some 80,000 are already in five UN bases.

Many parts of Africa still think in terms of tribes and religion. South Sudan is not different. So any personal rivalry will not take much time to metamorphose to a full-fledged tribal warfare. This is what we are seeing now. Personal rivalry between President and VP become a tribal issue and they started fighting each other. 
It is better for South Sudanese leaders to reach a power sharing formula and start afresh. 

South Sudanese people went through all those troublesome years, not to get this type of leadership who are more interested in setting their personal scores than doing something for the development. They owe a lot to international community for supporting South Sudanese independence movement. Now it’s the time to fulfil those promises.


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