Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 22:00 p.m. DST, 18 February 2014
As the world’s youngest country, South Sudan is a country to watch in terms of stability, growth and development. The country has been entwined in conflict and hardship, especially with Sudan, for decades, and current events are proving to show little progress.
Unfortunately, there has been a reprisal of violence and political tension since mid-December, and the deep, complicated history of the country is making it increasingly difficult to resolve. In a pattern all too familiar to African countries, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, has been battling insurgencies and destabilizing movements, led by his former deputy, Riek Machar. In the past, the two were comrades bonded in the fight for secession from Sudan. Now, the two have become enemies, each battling to hold ultimate power over South Sudan.
Since the renewal of violence between the leaders, thousands have been killed and nearly a million have been displaced from their homes and are now seeking refuge. This situation is never acceptable, but it is especially disheartening considering South Sudan’s development potential. The young country is extremely resource-rich, with several oil fields and a seemingly-endless supply of minerals. Most of these reserves are still untapped, and are thus harboring immense economic and growth potential. However, if the conflict continues, South Sudan’s oil minister has said that oil production and its export to international markets may be hindered or even halted. Such a consequence would cause further setbacks for the country.
Currently, Kiir has been working to spread the word at events and meetings that revenge and renewed violence will not be tolerated and that citizens, especially the youth, should put national interests above personal vendettas. Kiir’s party, the SPLM, has even moved to promoting a new theme, “one nation, one people,” in order to emphasize the importance of national goals over ethnic divisions.
If the situation is going to improve and remain stable, there must be immense change in sentiment and action for all of the country’s citizens. Continued political strife and armed conflict will only bring the country further away from growth and success, and unfortunately, South Sudan is running out of time.
- Fresh fighting erupts in South Sudan (therebel.org)
- South Sudan rebels attack key oil town (therebel.org)
- Fighting erupts in key South Sudan oil town (sacbee.com)
- Fighting erupts again in South Sudan (upi.com)
- Fighting 'ends' S Sudan ceasefire (bbc.co.uk)
- Fighting erupts in key South Sudan oil town (latimes.com)