The End of the Road for South Sudan?

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By Anonymous

After the traumatic experience of the Sudanese Civil War, including massacres and the kidnap of children to be sold into slavery, the declaration of South Sudanese independence on the 6th July 2011 was a day of rejoicing. Crowds lined the streets to celebrate what they hoped would be the beginning of a bright future. Yet today, just 6 years later, there are already growing calls for an international force to take control of the world’s youngest country.

The people of the new South Sudan have found their lives ripped apart by another civil war, this time between the nation’s two biggest ethnic groups: the Dinka and the Nuer. Although a peace deal was signed in August 2015 tensions have remained between the Dinka president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the Nuer vice-president Riek Machar. Clashes continue to spring up in new areas of the country with ethnic-based militias mobilising all over the bush.

The violence borne of the current conflict has been horrific, with the humanitarian situation in the country now at a critical point. Women sheltering in camps have been raped; food aid has been hijacked; growing numbers face starvation; and countless children have been killed. An African Union report in 2015 revealed the scale of atrocities committed during the 22-month civil war, including rape, gender-based violence, torture, mutilation and forced cannibalism. In August 2015 the UN’s top human rights official criticised troops loyal to the South Sudanese government for extrajudicial executions and sexual violence. An estimated 3.1 million people have been displaced by the conflict.

To make matters worse, the country is gripped by hyperinflation, which hit 800% in October. The South Sudanese Pound is very unstable and its value against the dollar continually changes; subsequently small businesses have closed nationwide and the population is struggling to earn any meaningful income.

Currently, a force of 13,500 UN peacekeepers is deployed in the country, but they face growing criticism for ineffectiveness. Just last November the commander of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was dismissed after a report on the responses to new outbreaks on violence said peacekeepers failed to protect civilians and offered a “chaotic and ineffective response”. Furthermore, funding cuts have forced the closure of 11 UN health facilities and left another 49 at risk of the same fate. Many see the UN as failing to fulfil its responsibilities to the Sudanese people.

Meanwhile there have also been efforts to deploy a 4000-strong UN protection force to the country. However, the South Sudanese are impeding these efforts through their refusal to accept the force despite previous agreement. There are many within the UN itself calling to expand this force even further; however, a recently leaked confidential report determined a number of obstacles slowing down its placement including delays over visas, the allocation of land for bases and a dispute over protecting Juba airport.

It is this apparent failure of the UN to intervene effectively that makes many, especially those with experience of living in and around South Sudan, question how any international force could be capable of running the country. John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an anti-genocide group currently working in South Sudan, has questioned what form international action could take without some form of multinational military force. Furthermore, he points to the disastrous effects of international state-building projects elsewhere, in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan where violence has dragged on for years. Others question the potential for success given that the dominant Dinka see international involvement as interference and an affront to their hard-won sovereignty. Loyalists claim the current government have made a conscious attempt to become more inclusive and as a result Juba, the capital city, has stabilised in recent months. They believe the government should be given a chance to resolve what they see as a domestic issue.

But a significant number of academics believe an international intervention like those previously launched in Kosovo or Bosnia could save the country and its people from years more bloodshed. Ugandan scholar Mahmood Mamdani argues that the African Union should set up a transitional government in South Sudan, with none of the current politicians who have been involved in the civil war. He suggests that a period of UN-supported trusteeship lasting around six years is necessary because “the response to the crisis will need to be as extraordinary as the crisis”. Much of the support for an international intervention stems from the misery of the situation within South Sudan. There are fears the atrocities committed during the civil war will be repeated and the corruption of the government seems to be worsening. Transparency International’s latest table named South Sudan the second most corrupt country in world. Smaller ethnic groups in South Sudan, not naturally aligned with either side of the largely Dinka-Nuer conflict, would welcome an international effort to relieve the suffering.

An intermediary perspective is beginning to emerge in the intervention debate that does not rule out future international action, but proposes it occur only as a last resort. Amir Idris, chairman of Fordham’s African and African-American studies department, is one such voice. He emphasizes that international trusteeship is one possibility to be considered but only after all other avenues have been exhausted. Many academics believe the key to improve the current situation is a complete change from the current leadership; an international intervention would succeed in doing this but would potentially initiate a host of other problems so many argue should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.  

The dire situation in South Sudan currently shows no signs of abating. As long as the Kiir and Machar continue to abuse their power to pursue ethnic conflict, matters only look set to get worse, as the deputy director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, Bronwyn Bruton has stressed, “Genocide is beginning to look inevitable”. No country appears willing to step in to change the situation, but it is not a surprise given the numerous examples of disastrous international interventions. As the world continues to debate, one certainty is that the situation shows no signs of improvement and the hope with which South Sudan was founded continues to be eroded as the humanitarian crisis deepens.

Features Editor

3 Comment

  1. “As long as the Kiir and Machar continue to abuse their power to pursue ethnic conflict, matters only look set to get worse” The preceding statement is major part of the problem. The world put out a narrative of duality engineered by the government of Obama, that “Both sides” are equally responsible for the the mayhem in our nation. But this is where the world bares responsibilities and journalists like you bares responsibilities for the false and misleading narratives that “Both Sides narratives”!

    1) In 2013 Machar et al ( >13 national leaders, founders of the liberation war) Pressed Kiir politically, kiir responded by declaring smashing tribal Militias subsequently these very Militia triggered a fight and Kiir took advantage of it and declared a false coup went on to clear Juba of Machars Kin, while Machar himself had to run for his life! Where is the duality of responsibilities here? Kiir got away with genocide in the nations capital of the our Nuer brothers.

    2) The peace treaty, Machar signed it timely and without reservations. kid refused to sign and cried foul and brought a long lists of reservations, and ran from Addis to Juba where he was followed to sign it. As soon as he did, he engineered derailment coming out with unconstitutional in direct violations of the peace deal, he decreed 28 states, where is duality of responsibilities here?

    3) kid refused to demilitarized Juba, even so, Machar brought all his eggs in one basket in the enemies den? If the man did not mean peace will he come to Juba, where he narrowly escaped in 2013, losing 18 of his body guards?

    4) While in Juba, His security officials as well Officials were being killed and JMEC and the world was quiet, where is the duality of responsibilties?

    5) The massacre in Wau, In western Equatoria, In Wandruba and in Magwi County eastern Equatoria while Machar was in Juba to implement the peace deal, these killing in Equatoria and Western Bahr el ghazal was going on, where is the duality of responsibilities.

    6) The July 2016 Crises, is by now known engineered by Kiir and Paul Malong and they pursued Machar 40 days and nights trying to kill him, Who is the trouble make here?

    7) Machar called for Intervention force in Juba, Kiir refused, the Security council members travelled to Juba, something not seen often, Kiir gave lip services and as soon as they left up to today there is no intervention forces.

    8) After serving death, Machar is sidelined by the Obama admisnitrations and the former peace negotiators the likes of Kenya became enemies to the opposition. So where is the Dualities and where is this power Machar is misusing?

    It is until the world call spade s spade and call out the killer of our people, then Juba will never feel the need to pay attention, because no one is putting the burden of the conflict on Kiir. Kir is the sole author of this conflict and he is the perpertrtator of the war for tribal benefits. The 2 millions refugees ran from Kiir not Machar. The IDP right few meters away from Kiirs palace are hiding from him not Machar. So it is time to tell the truth without which Kiir will never feel the heat.

    Dr. Kopling

  2. The beaver online feature editor:
    I was rather bemused and perplexed by your writings on South Sudan. Please try to widen your knowledge and understanding about South Sudan and its conflicts.
    Your writings are of mediocre type and totally lacks journalistic ethics which based on facts and unbiased sound judgement.
    Dr. Peter Koplings has adequately responded and I will not waste time on the same.
    Let me draw your attention to the following few points for clarity and for you to comprehend:

    1. The 1991 incidence where the Dinkas assumed that a lot of their kinsmen from Bor were massacred by Dr. Riek Machar was a prefabrication orchestrated by the Dinkas themselves to smear the reputation of Dr. Riek Machar and subsequently the whole Nuer community. Who should be held accountable for thousands of Nuers killing in that incident?
    You should understand that the killings were triggered by late Garang simply because Dr. Riek Machar and others were calling for democracy within the SPLM by then. Because Garang could not tolerate decent, the end result was that incident of 1991. President Kiir is just repeating the same scenarios.
    2. Dr. Riek Machar was the proponent of the self determination for Southern Sudan by then. Read the Khartoum peace agreement. Kiir and his Dinkas are claiming to have liberated South Sudan from the Arabs forgetting the referendum where South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for separation.
    3. Today the Dinkas have dominated every aspect of life in South Sudan and when they are challenged, they always resort to violence and unsubstantiated baseless accusations of coups. This is what happened in Dec. 2013 and July 2016 respectively. This falsehood of Kiir’s notion of coup d’ etat have been disproved by the Obasanjo and the Great lakes conference of the parliamentarian reports respectively.
    4. The region under IGAD have become partisan to the conflict. They are only mimicking the tone of President Kiir. This has been exemplified by the JMEC chairman, Festous Moggae. The countries of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are driven by lust for the abundance of South Sudan natural resources. They are there to loot these free resources because there is an incompetent and foolishness leader in power who does not have valuation for the country natural resouces. As long as these countries have a vested negatively detrimental interest in South Sudan, peace will never be realised.
    5. Lastly the solutions to these problems are complete regime change, redividion of South Sudan into confederal states and self determination for those states with options for independence or loose confederation. The people of Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal as well as upper Nile are encouraged to embrace this option of confederal system of government. Because Kiir’s community are unruly making the dissemination of law and order impossible, the rest of South Sudanese communities cannot be held hostage to the rule of this medieval primitive president.

  3. It kinda look like he was feeling that a lil bit at the end huh? That was nasty, but it was so damn awsome to watch! I mean it’s diffrent & way cooler than watching a dead body loaded up wimh;#8217&et. I’m just saying.

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